Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Great Jewish Comedians: Tom Lehrer, Master of Song Parodies


Tom Lehrer, now 88 years old, is a retired American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. He is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and '60s.

His work often parodies popular song forms, though he usually creates original melodies when doing so. A notable exception is "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the Major-General's song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance

Lehrer's early work typically dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor in songs such as Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the television show That Was the Week That Was

In the early 1970s, he mostly retired from public performances to devote his time to teaching mathematics and music theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In 1934, the National Conference for Christians and Jews came up with the idea of celebrating National Brotherhood Week during the third week of February. But it only lasted through the 1980s. One of Lehrer's most popular, clever, and biting satire pieces was National Brotherhood Week, written in 1965, when the annual week of putting aside hatred and distrust of the other was celebrated.

Enjoy!

A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.

7 comments:

  1. Very appropriate in this year of "diversity".

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember seeing this when I was kid, sometime probably in the '60's. It made an impression.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Never saw him before--very appropriate this week!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I too am 88 and picked up on Tom Lehrer early in life. Still can't get enough of him. Good to know he's still around and kicking. If anyone is looking for more, there's a load of his stuff on u-tube.

    ReplyDelete