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October 30th, 2009


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11:06 am - yeah yeah yeah
The Guardian has an article on funny songs - often so, so funny, and yet the genre has a bad reputation.
How did musical comedy pick up its bad reputation? (Bill) Bailey fingers the "folk singers who did wacky songs" in the 70s – people like Billy Connolly, whose Welly Boot Song was a staple of that decade's entertainment. The era's novelty singles – the Barron Knights' oeuvre; the Goodies' Funky Gibbon; Benny Hill's Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) – likewise cast a long shadow.
I noticed when I was watching I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue this week that I laughed most at the musical bits: One Song to the Tune of Another, that one where they fade the tune in and out, Audience Humming, and of course the immortal Swanee Kazoo. Bill Bailey's musical act is frickin hilarious. It's just tummy-achingly funny from start to finish.

The Guardian also has a little list of 'top five comic songs ever'. I was going to link, but I can't find it online (ETA now added thanks to brisingamen). From memory they chose 'Modern Major General', 'Cheese and Onions' by the Rutles, 'It Would Never Work' by Victoria Wood, something by Flight of the Conchords (ETA 'The Humans are Dead'), and I forget the last one (ETA - If I Didn't Have You, by Tim Minchin).

Here are my top five funny musical numbers.

Let's Do It by Victoria Wood ('I'm on Fire, with Desire/ I could handle half the tenors in a Male Voice Choir')
The Intro and the Outro by the Bonzo Dog Doodah band ('Looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on Vibes')
Exactly Like You by Morecombe and Wise (with Tom Jones)
Lydia the Tattooed Lady By Groucho Marx
I'm Fucking Ben Affleck by Jimmy Kimmel and various - I could only find a beeped version

Just the first five that came to mind - can you suggest some?

ETA I am also a big fan of the Benny Hill/Eminem/Doctor Who mashup that I linked to in an earlier post - always makes me laugh

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


(Deleted comment)
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From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 11:25 am (UTC)

Re: Top comic songs

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Oh, thank you. Don't know why I couldn't find it.
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From:watervole
Date:October 30th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)
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the Gasman Cometh, but Flanders and Swann. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOA_SUKEZRE
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From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
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Aha - I thought you or hafren might mention them. I quite like Armstrong and Miller's rude parodies of F&S.
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From:glitterboy1
Date:October 30th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
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My first thought was of them, too, though I think I'd have a hard time picking a favourite.
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From:trixieleitz
Date:October 30th, 2009 08:45 pm (UTC)
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Madeira, M'Dear? and Design For Living would be well up my list.

I see some dislike down-thread for Tom Lehrer, but I must respectfully disagree. Perhaps I like him because he's a fellow-cynic :)
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From:glitterboy1
Date:October 30th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I saw that, too, and was disappointed that others don't like him. However awful the taste, I can't help loving something like 'Poisoning pigeons in the park'.

And now I've had to dig out my Flanders and Swann, too. Hee!
(Deleted comment)
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From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
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I really used to like Tom Lehrer when I was a teenager. He was a lot better than the Baron Knights - you won't know them but they were a dire British comic singing band of the seventies. I mean dire. Lehrer was quite brilliant in comparison.
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From:the_wild_iris
Date:October 30th, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC)
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Dr Hook, 'On the Cover of the Rolling Stone'

Meat Loaf, 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' (tragicomic, I suppose)

Several by The Beautiful South
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From:katlinel
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Which ones by the Beautiful South? I'd definitely have 'Song for Whoever'.
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From:the_wild_iris
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
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I had trouble thinking of specific song titles. 'Song for Whoever', though, and probably 'You Keep it All In'.
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From:azdak
Date:October 30th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
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I am very fond of Joyce Grenfell's Stately as a Galleon, about ladies having to dance together at dance class because of a shortage of gentlemen, but alas, I have no link :-(
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
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Joyce Grenfell used to be on the radio all the time when I was a kid.
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From:katlinel
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
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'Let's Do It' would be my number one too.

It's one of the very few funny songs that actually makes me laugh. I had a friend staying with me for a fortnight who brought her own music (none of ours was good enough) and she insisted on playing some stuff by Len someone-or-other that she thought hilarious. It wasn't and even less so after a fortnight of it.

I'd also have this version of Natalie Imnbruglia's 'Torn' from the Secret Policeman's Ball 2006.

And 'The Philosopher's Drinking Song'

And S's version of Robbie Williams 'Angels' as sung by fifitrix also makes my top five.

And I'd add several from Smack the Pony. There's a collection and I like their version of 'Torn' at around the 4:20 mark, and 'It's Cold Outside' at 6:30. And from 3:50 onwards on this one these ones but especially the one at the end taking the piss out of B'witched.

I think this boils down to me preferring comedians who do funny songs as part of a sketch show to singers whose entire schtick is funny songs. The hit rate of the humour is higher for me.
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From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for all those links, I have been dipping out of writign corporate stuff to laugh at these
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From:katlinel
Date:October 30th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
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I think I messed up the links for the Smack The Pony vids. The second one, which is a compilation of the songs from their first series, should be this, in which I think the songs are at their best from 3:50 ones. They're just rather good at taking the piss out of nineties pop.

Glad you've been having fun with the links and thanks for yours too. Fucking Ben Affleck was great, despite the beeping, and that led to a link to fucking Matt Damon.
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From:katlinel
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
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I've read the article now and I'm bit bemused that they seem to think that comedians doing music stopped for a bit and now it's being resurrected. I've already mentioned Smack the Pony, but there were also the Doug Anthony All Stars and the Kids in Hall whose shows always involved music and who hit British TV at least long before Flight of the Conchords. They seem to think that Mitch Benn is the first person to rap Shakespeare but certainly the Reduced Shakespeare Company have been doing an Othello rap as part of the Complete Works of W. S. for years, and the one of them also did the Bombitty of Errors at the Fringe several years ago. So is this yet another case where the journalists are only just catching up with something that never went away but presenting it like its some stunning new discovery?
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From:communicator
Date:October 30th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, and I think art and culture journalists are the laziest
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From:archbishopm
Date:October 30th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
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I'm amusing myself trying to decide which funny songs I enjoy really count as "musical comedy".
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From:communicator
Date:October 31st, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
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Yes, something can be musical and comedy without really being 'Musical Comedy' which I associate more with Gilbert and Sullivan or some film from 1948
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From:archbishopm
Date:October 31st, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
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In any case our household here has after some heated debate chosen "The Bad Touch" by Bloodhound Gang as Funniest Song Of All Time.
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:October 30th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
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They lost me the moment they sneered at music-hall innuendo (wonderful stuff} and Ronnie Barker's lyrics - I'm only surprised they didn't have a go at Rambling Syd Rumpo but the writer is probably too ignorant to have heard of him. Oh, and Flanders & Swann were "too genteel" for him/her? Too intelligent, more bloody like.
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From:communicator
Date:October 31st, 2009 08:02 am (UTC)
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Never mind, they are probably about 18 years old
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From:despotliz
Date:October 30th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
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Adam and Joe had some funny songs in their TV show (the Robert de Niro calypso is great) and now they do song wars on the radio which has some gems. Their fake Bond themes for Quantum of Solace are great, as is the modern update to the Antiques Roadshow theme. No YouTube here, but I'll look up some links later.
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From:communicator
Date:October 31st, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
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I didn't know that. I will look out for those. I used to like Adam and Joe, and they have sort of disappeared now.
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From:despotliz
Date:October 31st, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
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I return with links:
Quantum of Solace: Joe, Adam.

Joe's Antiques Roadshow, Adam's Nutty Room, the Bobby de Niro song.

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