Comedy and music go together like nails and wood. You hammer one into the other. Pound a little too hard and you can hurt yourself. Don’t go “all in” and everything falls apart. Since 2004, kindie improv group The Story Pirates have donned their tool belts and entertained kids with skits and songs based on audience suggestions.
Over time, the Pirates have branched out from live performing into podcasts (all ideas still derived from submissions) and then into CDs—the second of which, Backstroke Raptor, has been unleashed on an audience seeking new avenues of yuks and aw shucks.
The first single, “The Wizard Who Could Just Go Poof,” was originally written by a five-year-old. There’s a rap by Nimene Sierra Wureh (with Lin-Manuel Miranda guest-starring as the dragon), and the song breezes by with the moral being “confidence and persistence pay off.” And the backbeat is provided from Johann Pachelbel’s Canon. Other tunes include “A Girl With Superpowers,” about a lass who needs to defeat an enemy (another dragon) to graduate to superhero status, and the frenetic and totally fictional “A Hamster’s Workday.”
The title track, “Backstroke Raptor” is a complete B-52s throwback, with dual female harmonies and a Fred Schneider-esque dinosaur interjecting his lines. “The Great Wallaby Adventure” is a calypso-themed geography homework lesson. Album closer “Dreaming Sheep” asks an age-old question, with a Lumineers call-out of “Bah hey”:
What do dreaming sheep dream about
When the sun is gone and the stars come out
Sheep can dream about being in school
Writing with pencils like the children do
The power of good storytelling is in the retelling. Kids are notorious for wanting to hear and re-hear the same stories again and again, for reassurance and bonding. The Story Pirates have crafted a collection of 11 kid-inspired story-songs that sound as good the next time you hear them. And that’s straight from the mouth of an eight-year-old.
Here is the YouTube song video of the group’s tune, “A Girl With Superpowers”: