Belated Birthday Greetings

To Tom Lehrer. Via Crooked Timber’s Kieran Healy. Much more here
Oh, alright, one more.

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  • BfB

    Intelligent, talented, discourse and dissent. Those were the days.

  • NP

    I prefer “national brotherhood day” & “who’s next”
    and indeed all the stuff on “THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS” album maybe cause its later i can relate more to the issues covered.

  • Pete Baker


    As long as it’s intelligent, and civil, dissent is welcome here.


    I’m sure all fans have their favourites for their own reasons.

    Mine just happens to be Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

    The point is..

    Happy [belated] Birthday, Tom!

  • BfB

    ‘As long as it’s intelligent, and civil, dissent is welcome here.’

    Of course it is, Pete.

  • Pete Baker


    OK, it is by me. ;o)

  • BfB

    I remember watching TWTWTW, even remember the words to the opening jingle (sadly). I was, and am, at the opposite end of Mr Lehrer’s politics, but enjoyed his wit, and style immensely. Now we have to suffer with the Dixie Chicks (spit).
    Tsk, tsk.

  • Rory

    Yeah, Bob, it is true that the Right are pretty short on wit and style. There is PJ O’Rourke as the exception but then he cut his teeth as a Village Voice Leftie.

    Still I suppose it must be difficult finding time for humour while busily planning which next poor people to plunder of their nation’s wealth.

  • BfB


    Have a good time at the Olympics, I hear your Tibetan Monkskin suit is quite natty. Bring your gas mask btw.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Not for nothing, Rory, but which American party do you imagine was in power, promulgating the policies punished by Lehrer’s punditry?

    If anything, Lehrer was pretty much equal opportunity — something you might miss if you don’t know the “back-story” Lehrer presents between songs (discussing President Johnson practicing escalario on the Vietnamese, for instance) or the actual historical events themselves (von Braun came into the US under “Paperclip” during the Truman administration, iirc.

    Lehrer’s songs discussed the fate of feckless politicians (“Whatever became of Hubert?”) as much as American gun-culture (“A Hunting Song”).

    As for the wit of the right, there is no shortage, just your unwillingness to look beyond the one- to two-dimensional stereotype.

  • BfB

    There is this fella. Good stuff. Pulitzer Prize winnah…2008.

  • BfB

    I’ll slide this one in on the birthday subject rule…
    Tommy Jefferson April 13, 1743…..
    When President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
    There’s a few more out there…

  • Rory

    The British satirical magazine Private Eye often lampoons the British tabloid press with a list of spoof contents of say the Daily Mail or Daily Express which they always conclude with…“and inside another unfunny cartoon by JAK.

    If they didn’t have JAK they could always use this dreadfully unsubtle, woefully unfunny Ramirez. This is like Bernard Manning had gone to Yale and taken up sketching as a hobby. Still, whatever floats your boat…

  • BfB

    By ‘dreadfully unsubtle’ I’ll assume you mean ‘spot on’. Eh, old sport?

  • Rory

    Well, actually “yes”, Bob. “Spot on” in the sense that the cartoons hit precisely the gross prejudices of its target audience. Comedians of the Left are not immune to this blindness either -the incredibly successful 1980’s English stand-up, Ben Elton (known as “Motormouth”),used drive me almost to despair with his knowing, nudge-nudge, wink-wink routine on the human failings of Margaret Thatcher. The fact that Mrs Thatcher, in common with other humans, might fart every once in a while didn’t strike me as particularly uproarious and I was puzzled as to how it might be seen as a meaningful critique of her socio-economic stance. But he got away with it because his target audience, being young, had to pretend they didn’t like Thatcher when what they really didn’t like was anyone knowing that they really liked Thatcher.

    It is that overly literal, easy pop at the butt of one’s comedy that panders to the worst prejudices of one’s audience that I find lamentable. Great comedy, it seems to me, should seek to confound one’s audience’s prejudices and make them laugh at themselves and the absurdity of the human condition of which they are part.

    In this regard the USA has furnished many giants from Twain and Thurber to Woody Allen and Bob Newhart not forgetting Carl Reiner and Mel Brookes and Dorothy Parker and SJ Perleman.

    But as for Ramirez…include him out!

  • BfB

    I can see you confusing the truth with ‘gross prejudices’, without that filter in place why would one with your opinions get out of bed in the morning?