The Golden Age of Musical Satire
PUBLISHED: 09:54 16 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:54 20 February 2013
From the trenches to recession – the comic songs that have got us through
The Golden Age of Musical Satire
From the trenches to recession the comic songs that have got us through
It has often been the case that when the human spirit is suffering the greatest adversity it has turned to wit and humour to survive. It is no coincidence then that the best comedy and satiricalsongs were born during periods of the worst hardship.
The British soldiers of World War One were renowned for their wit and sense of humour, spontaneously rewriting popular songs of the time like Its a Long Way to Tipperary and My Bonnie with their own, darkly comic and bawdy lyrics. The depression period of the 1930s brought forward the great comic lyricists like Noel Coward and Cole Porter. George Formby, with his banjolele became the highest paid entertainer in this country through his suggestive songs such as My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock and When Im Cleaning Windows. In the United States, the great entertainer Eddie Cantor was lauded for customizing songs such as Makin Whoopee taking the lyrics to a higher, even more suggestive, level.
After World War Two, constantly fearful of a nuclear holocaust, the darkly satirical songs of people like Tom Lehrer and Randy Newman came to the fore. Lehrer who claimed Princess Margaret as a fan, was an academic and attracted an educated following whose repertoire included We Will All Go Together When We Go a spirited and energetic song that extols the virtues of a nuclear holocaust by the fact that funerals will be a thing of the past - as we will all be dead, there will be nobody left to grieve.
The more popularist comedy singers and lyricists took a gentler and more accessible stance in the 1960s. Allan Shermans Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Bernard Cribbins Right Said Fred and practically the whole repertoire of Flanders and Swann signified the healthy economic conditions of the decade with light-hearted ballads that are still as humorous and harmless today as they were half a century ago.
In the interim years we have enjoyed the songwriting talents of the Monty Python team, Victoria Wood, Billy Connolly and Weird Al Yankovic. Even that legendary comedian with the rubbery face Phil Cool has turned his hand, to great acclaim, to satirical songwriting.
But now, as we are facing the worst economic misery in living memory, where are the comedic songsmiths? Who is there to raise our spirits through the medium of music?
Dynamically versatile entertainer, Peter Gill (The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, Let The Good Times Roll, An Evening with the humour of Bob Newhart & Tom Lehrer, Talbot House) returns to the nations stages in a one-man-and-his-piano show dedicated to those songs, performers and composers that have sought to make us laugh over the last century or so. A 90-minute performance of pure enjoyment that veers from the darkly comic to the inanely silly to the frankly hilarious. If there is a remedy for the depression we are all feeling, it is this feel-good show and doctors that arent prescribing tickets yet, surely will be soon!
The Golden Age of Musical Satire will be at The Cheltenham Playhouse on Saturday 18 February. Box Office: 01242 522852.www.beyondeternitypromotions.com