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Humorous songs: Frequency?

Mr Happy 23 Nov 12 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,john 23 Nov 12 - 07:03 AM
Mr Red 23 Nov 12 - 07:25 AM
gnomad 23 Nov 12 - 08:33 AM
John P 23 Nov 12 - 08:57 AM
Nigel Parsons 23 Nov 12 - 09:02 AM
Jeri 23 Nov 12 - 09:55 AM
Charley Noble 23 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM
Gurney 23 Nov 12 - 01:55 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Nov 12 - 02:21 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Nov 12 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Fantum 23 Nov 12 - 05:47 PM
Artful Codger 23 Nov 12 - 05:53 PM
Bill D 23 Nov 12 - 06:52 PM
pdq 23 Nov 12 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken) 23 Nov 12 - 08:47 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Nov 12 - 11:00 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Nov 12 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Jane, Orlando, 24 Nov 12 - 04:11 PM
GUEST, CS 24 Nov 12 - 04:29 PM
Joe_F 24 Nov 12 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Desi C 25 Nov 12 - 05:34 AM
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Subject: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 06:10 AM

How many times can you hear something like 'The Sick Note/Paddy & the rope' or 'I want to go to Morrow' & still find it amusing?


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST,john
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 07:03 AM

It all depends on how it is put across by the performer.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Mr Red
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 07:25 AM

Well - no matter how many times I have heard "Debate at the Oxford Union" by Gerrard Hoffnung I still find it amusing - delivery is everything. Paddy's Sick Note is derivative and sadly it does remove one or two of the carefully crafted intermediate humourous details. But I still enjoy it, not the least because it is so compact and almost complete. As a writer of humourous songs - I can tell you it is verry rare to get a subject that one can pack so many jokes into a single concept and still be proud of the result. My Knittershanty is as close as I got and that took three of us brainstorming over coffee. But on the plus side it was done in 2 hours. Which often is the case. You can sweat over things too much. And the phrase "polishing a turd" is the warning.

FWIW Hoffnung did not originate the concept of the "Sick Note" but he did squeeze just about every possible scenario from the single idea without adding additional concepts. And because he called it the "Pile of Bricks" it didn't telegraph the punchlne - as the song does.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: gnomad
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 08:33 AM

I find that any song can become stale if repeated too often, the less talented the performer and the writer, the more quickly an audience will tire. Humorous works are particularly susceptible because a large element of humour tends to rely upon an element of surprise, which is clearly lacking in a well-known piece. Serious pieces generally last longer, but are still capable of being over-performed, and we have plenty of threads here discussing just that phenomenon.

Some performers can wring further laughs out of a very tired song (or joke) simply because it is so stale, but it takes a good deal of talent, and nerve to try. A surprising number of performers don't realise that humour is seldom the easy option that it may appear to be.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: John P
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 08:57 AM

I think it also depends on the listener. For myself, most jokes are funny once and increasingly less so after that. Apparently, that's not true for everyone. I used to sing funny songs and had the same people showing up every week to hear us sing the same funny songs we sang the previous week and the week before that. As gnomad said, doing humor isn't easy; at least for me, it required lots of serious thought and practice beforehand. I must have been doing something right, though, since I regularly heard about what a great singer I was, and I'm really not -- I can't carry a tune in a bucket. It seems that funny songs can be successful even in the absence of actual musical skill. Presentation is everything when telling jokes, musical or otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 09:02 AM

Some enjoyment continues in the performance.
I can still laugh at Gilbert & Sullivan songs even if I know the punchlines in advance (or am singing along with every word)

Most Morecambe & Wise shows have been repeated often enough that you know almost every line.

Does that stop you laughing?
Probably "No"

This is just my view.
"What do you think of it so far?"

...


And that probably raised a few smiles even without a punchline!


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 09:55 AM

I don't see the point of singing some songs when everybody knows where they're going.

This probably has room for expansion:

Sing, oh sing, that old song once more
Some people aren't sick of it yet
It's like hearing the same joke again and again
From some people I have met
I remember it as clearly as yesterday's lunch
But I'd like the chance to forget

Chorus:
It might have been funny the first time
Whether I laughed, I don't know
It might have been funny the first time
But I heard it so long ago

Poor Mary Ellen was sunk
Then she rose once again
And she's been dragged around, and up follows down
Like a glass of rot-gut gin
The first parody was amusing, perhaps
But it's been a long time since then

And there's holiday cheer, and poor Santa
They only come once a year
But how long can your grandma stay funny
Long after she's squashed by reindeer
The songs might have sleighed a decade ago,
But don't sing that one again here

There's dead dogs in cider, dead people in poop
Dead skunks in the road, and what's more
Can't swing a dead cat without a good song,
And we've got dead cat songs galore
One truth about people - the living - it seems
Is there's nothing as funny as gore.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM

Jeri-

Excellent work but don't sing it too often!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Gurney
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 01:55 PM

Any song eventually becomes irritating when you hear it too often. In my opinion. Fortunately, after a song has been done-to-death, a few years break will make it good again, provided that it is a good song.

In the music-hall/vaudeville days, some performers went their whole career with a very limited repertoire, but they were good, and they toured, and audio recordings weren't available to most people.
That made a real difference.

To answer Mr. Happy's question, three times when I was young, five times nowadays.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 02:21 PM

Humour is all a matter of taste anyhow, of which, notoriously, non est disputandum. I, for instance, have never contrived to raise the most fleeting of smiles at the imo inenarrably tedious lucubrations of one Hoffnung -- even hearing him live 60 years ago at the Cambridge Union, when he told a tale just as long as the Oxford Union one about the bloody barrel, featuring a hedgehog and a lavatory brush.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 03:27 PM

Frequency is definitely a factor, and then there's dementia, oh and senility, and did I mention frequency? ..........Oh and dementia comes in there somewhere.....

But having a good chorus helps, like in 'On 'is 'orse with 'is 'awk in 'is 'and.

Seriously if a piece is genuinely funny or irreverent in some way, and you don't hear it every day, there are many people myself included, who love to hear it over and over and join in the punchlines. Some of the monologues, like Marriott Edgar's, I never tire of, and those related by John Cocking.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST,Fantum
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 05:47 PM

Mr Happy I hope you get an answer to your question but I fear its like asking how long is a piece of string. Frequency has to be the major factor because funny songs are not funny done to often.
I do humorous songs all the time and I try to keep at least a year 18 months between repeating a song in the same club and even then I worry about the audience response.
Gnomad is correct that humor is a tough option for folkies the demand for material is incessant. If you sing your funny song and it bombs you have just died out there. You will get a clap just the same as the serious singers but in your case you have failed and everyone knows it including you.
Your repertoire needs to be enormous and that means constant practice and constant work to increase it and even then you need to practice before every performance because you actually use that repertoire. Even with all that delivery is a real issue its a skill and its born of a lot of pain. Theres no going along and having an easy night you need to put your heart into it and work at it to get results.
Enough thread creeping dont use songs to often dont do well known songs work at getting em right.

Good luck to all budding or journeymen comic singers youre going to need it.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 05:53 PM

If a comic song is cleverly written, doesn't rely on a single joke, and has a good tune or chorus, it can be performed just as often as a serious one. Comic songs benefit from good delivery and offer an opportunity for a singer to mug a bit, though lots of mugging turns a comic song into a groaner. There are a number of comic songs I love to sing—and don't mind hearing many times—because they're just so wonderful as songs. For example:

The Baby's Name
Over the Garden Wall
The Wee Little Window
Some Little Bug Is Going to Find You Someday
Dark Girl Dressed in Blue
Going Out a-Shooting
Buckskin Bag of Gold
The Bible's True (well, it's a comic song to me)
Kelligrew's Soiree
Mrs Fogarty's Christmas Cake
The Vicar and I Will Be There
You'd Be Surprised
Rough on Rats
Old Simon the King

And (setting aside modesty) here's a few I've set to music:
Bachin'
A South Sea Absurdity
Click Clack
Unhappy Bella
Old Buck's Ghost
The Hardware Line

Even if you know the "punch line", there's so much else to these songs that you still enjoy the journey.

Artful Codger


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 06:52 PM

I have several 'quaint' songs I learned that people keep ASKING for.... and if it's been close to a year, I might relent............or if there's a generally mostly new, un-baptized audience.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: pdq
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 07:24 PM

"...humor is a tough option for folkies the demand for material is incessant. If you sing your funny song and it bombs you have just died out there..."

Steve Goodman was a master at carrying off humorous songs, most of them originals.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken)
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 08:47 PM

In my non-ceilidh persona, I have become somewhat notorious for singing Flanders and Swann songs, and I keep getting asked for them. No reflection on my own limited talent, more an endorsement for beautifully written lyrics and music, and that is probably the answer to the question. If it's good, you just don't tire of it.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 11:00 PM

Apart from those who request repetition of your 'speciality' comic songs [in my mother's restaurant all those years ago ~ nearly 60, wow! ~ the regular clientele insisted on Caviar the Roe of the Virgin Sturgeon every time], there are always bound to be some newbies hearing them for the first time.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 09:35 AM

Basically, if they're good songs it doesn't matter if you already know the punchlines. Same with a good story/storyteller, if the story is a good one you never tire of it. Little children often ask to be told the same story over and over because they like to hear the story. Familarity doesn't always breed contempt.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST,Jane, Orlando,
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 04:11 PM

I have heard the Sick Note, usually called Dear Boss in the USA many times, in my local pub I heard it last night on the radio in my local bar and everything went quiet as people enjoyed it. For an Irish song to get such a reception in a country bar says something for it's quality, everyone was asking where they could hear it again. I don't think anyone will tire of this one.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST, CS
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 04:29 PM

No parodies please! I hear the parodies twenty times more frequently than the song they are supposed to parody. At least the originals don't drain you with 'jokes' that have been doing the circuit for forty years.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 05:02 PM

I still enjoy the Tom Lehrer record my mother gave me as a highschool graduation present in 1954.


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Subject: RE: Humorous songs: Frequency?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 05:34 AM

I think ANY song if it's done too often loses it's attraction, even becomes disliked/hated, two which I've come to dead hearing again I'd put into that bracket would be Hotel California which has been done to death and similarily Streets Of London. Thankfully Humerous songs like The Sick Note etc seem to be done less frequently, and as someone before me said, depend very much on how well they're done. I like to do a humerous song at the rate of approx 1 in 7 and regularly look for new ones. A couple I'd suggest The Drovers Dream (from Ian Campbell Folk Group) . The Tortoise (The Corries) go down very well with the audience


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