The San Francisco Bay Guardian's strange assertion that Joshua Raoul Brody's "presence virtually guarantees pop-culture irony" is somewhat offset by the more prosaic San Francisco Examiner calling him an "unsung hero," adding that he "seemed to back up every comic show worth catching." He was born in the Bronx, where he learned the basics of piano and theory, then studied at New York University, Berklee College of Music, UC Santa Barbara, the NEA Composer-Librettist Opera Workshop, and New College of California..
In 1974 Brody moved to San Francisco and soon hooked up with the Rick & Ruby Show, with whom he went on national tours (opening for and accompanying Robin Williams and appearing on his first album) and network television (including Mork & Mindy, Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas), and was musical director for their theatrical productions, backing up such artists as Boz Scaggs and Pee-Wee Herman. On his own, he has provided musical services for Lily Tomlin, Penn & Teller, Florence Henderson, avant-garde recording artists The Residents, and even Tom Waits, no mean pianist himself; he has played in a wide variety of settings: the Universal Amphitheater, El Teatro Campesino, the Guthrie Theater, New York's Copacabana, a locked ward at Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institue, and a greasy pizzeria in Vienna; and he has recorded in such studios as the cavernous Skywalker Studios, the legendary Glen Glenn, and his petite yet effective computerized home set-up.
Brody's theater work runs the gamut from fully composed scores (such as Goddess of the Hunt, a mini-opera with libretto by Merle Kessler that was part of Overtone Theatre's String of Pearls, for which Brody also served as musical director) to instantly improvised accompaniment with groups such as True Fiction Magazine (which he co-founded). Between these extremes, he has worked on projects as diverse as the Blake Street Hawkeyes' production of David Schein's Reverence for the Dead, a musical comedy about Lee Harvey Oswald, earning a best score nomination from the Bay Area Critics' Circle; conducting the San Jose Rep production of the turn-of-the-century musical Tintypes; accompanying Tony Pellegrino's ground-breaking Deer Rose; and designing music and effects for Marga Gomez's A Line Around The Block and Josh Kornbluth's Ben Franklin Unplugged. Brody's relationship with Kessler and his former group, Duck's Breath Mystery Theater (of NPR fame) dates almost to their 1976 arrival in San Francisco; they have collaborated on literally several projects, including Ian Shoales in 'Table For One' (produced at New York's Dance Theatre Workshop), Ubu's in America (featuring Fratelli Bologna), and KQED-TV's Emmy award-winning Deadpan Alley.
In his home studio, Brody created scores for a Charles M. Schwab commercial (with SoundTracks), the minor motion picture Vegas In Space (with producer Bob Davis), and Winter Steele (part of MTV's Liquid TV), as well as songs for Paul Bartel's feature film, Shelf Life. As Audible Difference, Brody and Davis adapted traditional folk songs and composed original music in the styles of various world cultures for multimedia projects including Purple Moon's Secret Paths in the Forest, and designed the start-up logo and audio for the introductory tour on Apple's new Performa. Brody played piano on Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun soundtrack and accordion on CBS's recent Felix the Cat series.
Some of the many other hats Brody has worn include: house pianist for Comedy Celebration Day in Golden Gate Park every year; musical director for BATS Improv; founding member of Those Darn Accordions!, the Ethel Merman Memorial Choir, and the tango chamber ensemble Tango No. 9; and sit-in guest with virtually every comedy act that has a musical bone in its collective body. He is the leader of his own comical musedy troupe, The STUPEDS, who made their screen début in the 1989 monomillion-dollar sci-fi spoof, Martians Go Home, earning them mentions in three different Joe Bob Briggs columns. In his spare time, Brody does a solo sit-down comedy act composed of rude song parodies, obscure references, jokes without punchlines, and an adaptation of Little Roger & The Goosebumps' notorious rendition of the "Gilligan's Island" lyrics set to the music of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", rearranged for solo accordion and Alvin the Chipmunk.
When asked to describe himself in one word, Brody replies "Unable to follow instructions."