Victor Borge’s Musical Humor
Victor Borge was a very funny Danish-born comedian who performed in the English language. You can find an assortment of his stuff on YouTube here. A sample:
Swami Kriyananda’s Humor (short story)
When I moved to Ananda Village in 1976, I was offered a job at “Pubble,” the department where Swamiji’s books were published. (The former publications building is now Hansa Temple.)
Not long after I arrived, Swamiji invited the staff to his home to talk about some projects he wanted to start.
Swamiji lived on the other side of the ridge from the Village. I walked over with Asha and Seva, both of whom were nuns and walked a little way ahead.
I was very nervous about meeting the great man for the first time. I thought, “Gosh, it’s like going to meet the Pope or something!”
When we arrived, we heard music coming from Swamiji’s living room. It was a raucous, jazzy song, accompanied on piano by a man who sang with an intelligent, rather sardonic voice. When we entered, I recognized “The Vatican Rag,” a comic song by Tom Lehrer, a former mathematics professor at MIT. It was playing very loudly, and Swami was laughing heartily:
First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect, and
Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
You can do what steps you want if
You have cleared them with the pontiff.
Everybody say his own kyrie eleison,
Doin’ the Vatican Rag!….
Between guffaws, he sang the refrain: “Genuflect, genuflect!”
My mouth was so far agape you could have parked a battleship in it.
Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional.
There the guy who’s got religion’ll
Tell you if your sin’s original.
If it is, try playin’ it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer.
Two, four, six, eight – time to transubstantiate!
When in Rome, do like a Roman:
Make a cross on your abdomen.
Ave Maria, gee it’s good to see ya’!
Gettin’ ecstatic and sorta dramatic and
Doin’ the Vatican Rag!
Swamiji obviously had known my thoughts, and it was completely typical of him to dispel any notion that we were expected to hold him in awe.
His spiritual stature evoked our love and respect, but he never paraded it or demanded our obeisance. — told by Rambhakta
The Vatican Rag – Tom Lehrer
From the Vancouver Cantata Singers…
A word of explanation: these two videos borrow their titles from a wildly popular viral YouTube video, Shit Girls Say. While we don’t love the vernacular, the content of the videos is sufficiently civilized — and funny — to earn our Ananda Garden imprimatur.
Sh*t Choristers Say:
Mozart: A Musical Joke
A Musical Joke was a piece written intentionally to be as bad as possible. Mozart disobeyed many harmonic rules of the time, created cloyingly repetitive patterns, and even intentionally wrote parts that would sound like the musicians were playing wrong notes.
After playing the violin for the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, Albert Einstein asked, “Did I play well?”
“You played relatively well,” replied Piatigorsky.
When told that a soloist would need six fingers to perform his concerto, Arnold Schoenberg replied, “I can wait.”
“Exit in case of Brahms.” – Philip Hale’s proposed inscription over the doors of Boston Symphony Hall
“The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer.” — Victor Borge
“His music used to be original. Now it’s aboriginal.” – Sir Ernest Newman on Igor Stravinsky
Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, “George Szell is his own worst enemy.”
“Not while I’m alive, he isn’t!” said Bing.
“He has an enormously wide repertory. He can conduct anything, provided it’s by Beethoven, Brahms, or Wagner. He tried Debussy’s La Mer once. It came out as Das Merde.” – Anonymous orchestra member on George Szell
“Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o’clock and after it has been going three hours you look at your watch and it says 6:20.” – David Randolph
“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.” – Gioacchino Rossini
“I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music.” – Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky’s The Rakes’s Progress
The great German conductor Hans von Buelow detested two members of an orchestra who were named Schultz and Schmidt. Upon being told that Schmidt had died, von Buelow immediately asked, “Und Schultz?”
“We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you would be good enough to keep in touch now and again?” – Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal
(Thanks to David G for opera analysis.)
Choir members getting bored? Try these: