What makes music funny?

WARNING: Tricks are for kids, but these videos are for grown-ups who aren’t easily offended. If you don’t like to work blue, you might want to hold out for my next, clean post! πŸ™‚

File this under Things I Wish I’d Thought of First… composer Igor Keller has spun Bill O’Reilly’s infamous Falafel Phone Call into operatic gold!

More info about the opera here.

Click Mr. Readmore for a brief comment (as this left me almost speechless! πŸ˜‰ )

I don’t think most people would be predisposed to believing that classical music in general, and especially opera in particular, can be funny. Even the category that is officially called Comic Opera is more light-hearted, smile-wryly-while-you-sip-your-tea-with-your-pinky-cocked than guffaw-snort-dry-your-eyes funny. But I’ve heard plenty of funny classical music — much of it written my music grad students, who have to laugh to keep from crying (someday I’ll be able to talk about it… πŸ˜‰ )

While watching the video above, I got to thinking about just what it is about funny music that makes it funny. In the case of a parody, I think the key is that it has to be done “straight” — this operatic parody wouldn’t work if the musicians clowned around. The singer here smiles and does some mocking hand gestures, but he does it while singing 100% correctly and professionally. If he weren’t a real opera singer, it would just be dumb. And notice that the instrumentalists are playing just as seriously as they would for a “real” baroque opera.

Oh, and like real opera, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the words. Fortunately, also like most real opera these days, there are subtitles. πŸ˜‰

I did compose something in this vein a few years ago — I give you my Mozartian opera quintet parody, “When Words Aren’t Enough,” with lyrics by the playwright Elizabeth Wong. I must admit, it is fun getting an operatic soprano to sing the f-word! πŸ˜‰

Please note: this performance is a reading — the singers had about 10 minutes to learn the music, and did an amazing job… just imagine what they could have done given real rehearsal time!

Click to listen:


Singers: Susan Asbjornson, Melissa Lyons, Brian McDonald, Sandy Mulvihill, Sean Smith
Pianist (and spoken voice): Jan Powell

Oh, one last thing… while watching the O’Reilly opera video, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this destined-to-become-a-classic work from last year:

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