Does Humor Belong In Music?

January 15, 1985
Picture Music International
57 min.

Produced and directed by Frank Zappa

Includes footage from:
The players:

FZ—lead guitar, vocals
Ray White—guitar, vocals
Ike Willis—guitar, vocals
Bobby Martin—keyboards, French horn, sax, vocals
Allan Zavod—keyboards
Scott Thunes—bass, vocals
Chad Wackerman—drums

The music heard:

The Pier Whippin' Post


flambay, November 15, 2014

Obviously all live concert footage is either from August 25 or August 26, 1984 at The Pier in New York City.

All individual time indexes in my notes are referring to the start of the DVD [...].

1. Intro is from August 25 ("No, we're not going to play Greggary Peccary ..." etc.)

2. Zoot Allures is from August 25, and switches to August 26 at about 0:03:00 into start of the Video. (FZ solo is from August 26)

3. Tinseltown Rebellion is from August 26, but that little City Of Tiny Lites fragment (behind "You seem to really perform well live" etc at ~0:12:24) is from August 25.

4. More Trouble Every Day (& Penguin fragment, behind "Does humor belong in music?" at ~0:16:02) is from August 26.

5. Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel: All fragments (between interview bits) are from August 26 (not 25).

6. The Dangerous Kitchen
7. He's So Gay
8. Bobby Brown
9. Keep It Greasey
all from August 26.

10. Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me? is from both shows:
Start of song is from August 26.
Somewhere during these lines (I couldn't exactly find out where)
"... singles bar, a Tuesday night
The moon was dim, the band was tight
They did the Bump together.
What a ..."
the recording switches from August 26 to August 25
From "... splendid sight" onwards we are definitely in the August 25 show, for the rest of the song. Especially clear when they sing:
Audience: "HELEN REDDY!"

The short Carol You Fool portion at the end of the track, behind "A young lady has ah, felt that ah ..." (at ~0:34:03) is also from August 25.

11. Dinah-Moe Humm is from August 26.

12. Cosmik Debris:
First part of song including FZ solo is from August 26.
Switch to August 25 at about 0:41:38 ("The price of meat has just gone up"...) until end of song.

13. Be In My Video:
NYC Audience portion [42:40-43:28] including
"FZ: Oh yah! Abbondanza . . . Thank you! Let's get serious! No, let's not! Let's mine the harbor!"
is from the 2nd encore break August 26 (between Cosmik Debris and Camarillo Brillo);
Be In My Video is also from August 26, main show.

14. Dancin' Fool &
15. Whippin' Post are also from August 26, final encore tracks.
Note: the FZ solo in Whippin' Post is edited, the Audience version is longer.


General Notes & Comments

Richard Fox

A one-hour video of a concert from 8-26-84. There is also a CD of this name but the songs and performances differ on the CD. This is an excellent video and shows off the vocal talents of the 84 band.

Joe Franks

This definitely takes a while to get used to, being from the mid 80's, with that great cheesy synth sound. And only 60 minutes in length, but you will hear very few complaints about this with me. Well-filmed for the times.

Zoot Allures is great, but then for the guitar solo (as usual for the 80's) it goes into a Reggae vamp. Same with Whippin Post, and probably the same for Hot Plate Heaven and More Trouble Every Day, even though those solos aren't captured on the too-short tape. Also FZ looks like he's really concentrating on his solos, unlike Baby Snakes where he walks all around the Palladium Stage. FZ looks as if he is trying desperately hard here. All in all—It's definitely worth owning for the common and uncommon Zappafreak......

Robert Martin

Having just discovered this series of web pages, I'm waxing quite nostalgic about my tenure with Frank from '81 'till the end. I particularly remember the New York Pier 11 show as being an incredibly fun show. The dependence on cheezy early digital synths was unfortunate but it was more than made up for by the best vocal band in my experience with Frank. It was the only time that I got to sing with both Ray and Ike at the same time, which cut down on my leads a bit, but we had killer range, power and blend.


The interview sequence was from a show near Cleveland at the Blossom Music Center. I saw the whole thing, even the girl flashing them. Dead serious. I had seats under the pavilion but moved out to the lawn. The sound was much better in the open air. Was the first time I heard the band play "Whipping Post". As Chris Farley used to say, It was Awesome! The interview was conducted in a small building away from the stage area.



Original Videotape Release

Hi-Fi Stereo, 57 min.

The different known releases:

Picture Music International/MPI Home Video #MP 1304

Picture Music International/MPI Home Video #MP 1304

Castle Communication CVM 1095

Picture Music International/EMI #MVP 99 1100 2

Picture Music International/EMI #MXP 99 1100 4

(Japanese release)

Drew Wheeler, "We Are What We Watch," Billboard, May 1990

Zappa's first commercially available videocassette was "Does Humor Belong In Music?," primarily a movie of a 1984 New York concert. The company designated to release the tape, Sony Video Software, decided that the video's content warranted a warning sticker. Needless to say, trying to interest Frank Zappa in a warning sticker is rather like giving a temperance lecture to Charles Bukowski. Into the breach stepped Chicago-based MPI Home Video.

"I felt the same way he did about video programs," says MPI chief Waleed Ali, "For obvious political reasons, the whole idea of stickering original home video product was something that rubbed me the wrong way. We just happened to agree on that and the result was that the license was purchased by us and we put it out." Ali urged Zappa to enter the home video market with MPI as a distributor.

Tape Cover

Laser Disc

VAP VPLR-70275 (Japanese release, with Japanese subtitles)

Here is the Japanese laserdisc, with obi:

Japanese Laserdisc

From: Richard Kolke

I would like to add that the Japanese laserdisc version of this show features a substantially different mix than the VHS video version. The keyboard parts seem to come out a little cleaner and the mix has a more 'spatial' feel to it. Also, subtitles for all spoken (including interviews) and sung parts appear in Japanese at the bottom of the screen.



October 20, 2003
EMI 490 8929
PAL, All Regions
Made in EU

EMI 490 9029
NTSC, All Regions

January 13, 2004
Region 1

From: Corné van Hooijdonk (October 18, 2003)

yep, it arrived in the Free Record Shop in the Netherlands (Breda) today. Additional DVD credits:

'DVD Authoring & Design by Abbey Road Interactive
Produced by Bryony Cranstoun
Mastered at Abbey Road Studios
Product Managed for EMI by Paula Flack
Artwork reworked for DVD by The Red Room @ EMI'

P Digital Remaster 2003 The copyright in this audio visual compilation is owned Pumpko Indistries Ltd under exclusive licence to EMI Records Ltd. C 2003 Pumpko Industries Ltd/EMI Records Ltd.

Front cover:


The Brazilian version, sent by Sergio Martorelli:

Brazilian DVD Cover



Bootleg Videotape:

Here is a bootleg version of this video which has been seen on Ebay:

Bootleg Cover

Bootleg DVD:

Bootleg DVD

From: Beat Morello

As I recall, these are the main distinctive features of this bootleg release:
1. Different cover and overall design from that of the official release.
2. Published by "Room 101 Entertainment"; no official endorsement in sight.
3. Extra track: "Register to vote."
4. Poor video quality (although, what can you expect from an '84 release?) but flawless soundtrack.
5. Japanese subtitles all over the place (even on extra track).

This last one, and the fact of the picture used for the menu screen being that of the japanese Laserdisc wrapping, suggest that this might have been somewhat edited off that old japan-only release.


From: ebay seller "bean4green"

This is the rarest Frank Zappa Video of all time. This one-hour video is of Zappa's New York appearance at Pier 11 on August 26, 1984. This video was given to me personally by FZ in 1984 and was lost until now. It was Frank's final edit version and has the time code running in a window at the bottom of picture. This is a multi-camera, superbly edited, commercial quality, final pre-release version. The digital sound quality and mixing is as good as any Zappa recording you'll ever hear. Sounds like a CD. Originally produced for Intercontinental Absurdities (FZ's production company), this tape was never released. No one has it anywhere, except here. It is interlaced with brief interview scenes with FZ, and backstage moments as well. This video was copied from the actual 3/4 inch cassette Frank gave me. The video quality is good and the music is phenomenal. The musicians are Chad Wackerman, Scott Thunes, Ike Willis, Ray White, Alan Zabaz, Bobby Martin & FZ . . . . . . .SONGS: Zoot Allures, Tinseltown Rebellion, Trouble Every Day, Hot Plate Heaven, The Dangerous Kitchen, He's So Gay, Bobby Brown, Keep It Greasy, Don't You Want A Man Like Me, Dynamo Hum, Cosmic Debris & The ENCORE: Be In My Video, Dancin' Fool, and an incredible Whippin' Post. I have used scanned and reduced labels from the original FZ cassettes and pictured them below.

The Tape

From: ebay seller "bean4green"

... I found them in Japan many years ago. This one-hour video is of a Zappa New York concert appearance in the summer of 1984 entitled "Does Humor Belong in Music". It is NOT A COPY, IT IS AN ORIGINAL, first generation, digital gem. The actual concert is essentially the same as the American release, and no special content is present or implied. Every tape is in its original, never opened, clear case, just as it was in Japan when I discovered them, with Japanese labels and all, as shown. They are clearly a Japanese exclusive release. They even have Japanese subtitles.

Japanese Tape

Additional informants: Kristian Kier, Antal Adriaanse

Maintained by Román García Albertos
This section formerly maintained by Reverend Neve
This dog last modified: 2015-11-18