Revenge for Victor Borge
December 22, 2013 11:03 PM   Subscribe

 
!!!
posted by JHarris at 11:05 PM on December 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been sitting on this link for month ...MONTHS.


We'll all go together when we gooooooooo

Also he's the charactwe model for Arcade Ganon in Fallout New Vegas.
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, in a bit of tretoactive universe continuity fixing , Tom Lehner makes more sense if you think of him as an escape Venture Brothers cast member.
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 PM on December 22, 2013


Has it been more than ten years since a Mefite named wendell asked "Tom Lehrer: Is He Still Alive?" Uh, yes it has, and yes he is.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:33 PM on December 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It was great to hear his "original" version of "The Elements" (at 25:00) and he closed with "The Vatican Rag" which I did an impromptu performance of at the Dress Rehearsal for a college production of "A Man for All Seasons" where I was playing Cardinal Wolsey, the Orson Welles role from the movie, forcing me to bring my voice down and try to project, so going into Tom Lehrer mode while wearing the red robes was so cathartic (also doing it in a secular college after four years in a Catholic high school). I was so disappointed I could not convince them to let me do it during an act break of the actual performances... they didn't know showmanship when they saw it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:12 AM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


i've heard these songs since childhood, and just sent them to my folks, AMAZEBALLS.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:28 AM on December 23, 2013


The sixties were amazing.
posted by Anitanola at 12:29 AM on December 23, 2013


Thank god I am old enough a fart to appreciate this.
posted by ouke at 1:25 AM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am a young fart and Tom Lehrer is still perhaps the smartest and funniest musician alive.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:28 AM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is the synchronized clapping A Thing in Denmark, or is it just a peculiarity of the recorded audience?
posted by backseatpilot at 5:44 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Tom Lehrer. I enjoy singing "New Math" to people that are trying to add figures manually. This is iron clad proof that I am a total jerk.

You can't take three from two,
Two is less than three,
So you look at the four in the tens place.
Now that's really four tens,
So you make it three tens,
Regroup, and you change a ten to ten ones,
And you add them to the two and get twelve,
And you take away three, that's nine.
Is that clear?

posted by Aznable at 6:03 AM on December 23, 2013


Well that's an evening wasted.
posted by surplus at 6:12 AM on December 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is wonderful! And from reading the subtitles, I learned that Götterdämmerung is called Ragnarok in Danish—is that cool or what?
posted by languagehat at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The man had a knack for the earworm: In 90 seconds I present to you your internal soundtrack for the rest of the day, especially if you watched Sesame Street a lot: "Silent E".
posted by jeremias at 6:17 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geesh, I was going to work this morning. I listened to a Daniel Radcliffe interview on the Nerdist podcast recently, apparently a friend arranged for Tom Lehrer to visit him backstage after a performance of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". He was struck speechless.

Apparently he's a fan.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:41 AM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, what's wrong with Victor Borge?!
posted by underthehat at 6:53 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I know all the songs by heart,so I was drifting a little bit until one particular comment shocked me: a mention of the world's population being 3 billion. Hard to believe that it's more than doubled since those songs were written. Scary, too.

I wish there'd been more audience shots. Some of them were great: the contrast between the one's who were sitting stone-faced vs. the one's who found him hilarious, and I loved seeing that gorgeous girl watching him raptly as he sang about pornography.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


A++. Anybody who can even think of rhyming Tripoli and Mississippoli and, at the same time, tie them together conceptually is a genius.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:39 AM on December 23, 2013


I thought maybe I could play this at work as background for some things I have to do, but alas it is not to be. I simply cannot stop myself from 1) singing along (I think every single one of his songs might be engraved on my lobes by now), and 2) turning around to look at him (such a charming and charismatic devil!).

Looks like I'm gonna have to play all his records in a row tonight, try to get them out of my system. (Oh, who am I kidding, Tom Lehrer will NEVER BE OUT OF MY SYSTEM. <3 )
posted by theatro at 7:59 AM on December 23, 2013


Almost every person that I've met who's parents were professors knows all these songs. it's almost like a secret code...
posted by jeffen at 9:03 AM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder how the performance was presented to the audience and what persuaded them to attend!

In elementary school, I learned the words to "New Math," and my sister learned "The Elements." (Why yes, we are very popular at parties.) We were introduced to Tom Lehrer by our mother whose parents weren't professors, but Jews with post-graduate degrees.
posted by casualinference at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2013


Anybody who can even think of rhyming Tripoli and Mississippoli ....

I think he trumps that when he describes LBJ "performing escallatio" on the Vietnamese. Even before I fully understood the word play I knew it must be infinitely clever.

I also remember that my brother and I discovered Lehrer through Dr. Demento, and while talking about him my parents said that they too, had listened to him, during the 50s. It was the first time that my little teen-aged mind considered the possibility that my parents might have once been .... cool?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2013


Is it just me, or is a song missing? It seems like he does the introductory patter for "Folk Song Army," but the next song is "Irish Ballad" instead, at about 20:30.
posted by casualinference at 10:21 AM on December 23, 2013


"When Alabama gets the Bomb..."

This has always tickled the shit out of me for some reason.
posted by pjern at 10:31 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I know all the songs by heart,

I've got all except for the Elements.

Tough work.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:52 AM on December 23, 2013


A few years ago a Swiss friend introduced me to the songs of Boris Vian. Lehrer fans, you owe it to yourselves to listen to Je suis snob and le déserteur.
posted by zippy at 11:30 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my god what an astonishing find.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:03 PM on December 23, 2013


Sorry, now I'm just imagining what songs old Lehrer could write about the NSA.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:23 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seconding Vian. I'll recommend Java des Bombes Atomiques as the most Lehrer-like. With my middling French I have to sit down with the written lyrics to figure out exactly what's going on, but it's worth it.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:29 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is priceless!

I learned the Elements one boring Sunday afternoon. It has since come in useful, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances. The ones that always give me trouble are New Math and the very fast Russian cities in Lobachesky.

The link is fabulous. It's so revealing to watch Lehrer perform and realise he's doing little visual jokes as well as.

The 'escallatio' one eludes me. Perhaps it's because I first heard it when I was very young, didn't get the joke then and have become a little deaf to the possible humour in it. The only thing that comes to mind is a pun on fellatio. Can someone explain?

hehe, 'two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!' genius, genius, genius
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 1:31 PM on December 23, 2013


Sorry, now I'm just imagining what songs old Lehrer could write about the NSA.

Don't get your hopes up, since according to his wikipedia page he used to work there.

But another tidbit from the page is worth sharing:

Lehrer's song "The Old Dope Peddler" is sampled in rapper 2 Chainz's song "Dope Peddler", taken from his 2012 debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story. The following year, Lehrer said he was "very proud" to have his song sampled "literally sixty years after I recorded it." Lehrer went on to describe his official response to the request to use his song: "As sole copyright owner of 'The Old Dope Peddler', I grant you motherfuckers permission to do this. Please give my regards to Mr. Chainz, or may I call him 2?"

posted by daveje at 1:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


Oh, daveje, that made my day!

I'd heard he'd retired from comedy because he didn't find the news funny anymore, but he's clearly still got a wicked sense of humor.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:43 PM on December 23, 2013


Don't get your hopes up, since according to his wikipedia page he used to work there.

So did Snowden. Also, the NSA employs a lot of people, and not all of them are involved with snooping, or even necessarily knew anything about it.
posted by JHarris at 3:40 PM on December 23, 2013


Tom L. is a certified Math Genius, so it's likely he was doing some cypher shenanigans at the NSA (yes, I am too lazy to check his wikipedia page).

He may well be retired now, but in the 80s he was teaching half the year at UC Santa Cruz and the other half of the year at Harvard (or was it MIT?). At Santa Cruz (where I was), he did a course on the American musical, and every 2 weeks his class did an abridged version of some musical or other; at the Other place, he taught maths.

We figured we got the better end of the stick.

And OMG I just remembered that not only is he responsible for my love of Sondheim, he taped the "Sunday in the Park with George" soundtrack for me, like, on an audio cassette tape. I bet I still have that somewhere...

I am glowing with "I almost kind of knew that great guy once" kinds of feelings.
posted by allthinky at 6:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even in Danish he leaves out that line to be on the safe side. Is there a real line he leaves out? Should I take it to AskMe?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:49 PM on December 23, 2013


Which line?
posted by jeffj at 2:34 AM on December 24, 2013


http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070129210617AAaadl4

No other links I can find gives an answer.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:12 AM on December 24, 2013


Fantastic - and really great quality, too. So sad that he stopped composing. Makes an unfunny world that much unfunnier.
posted by Mchelly at 8:11 AM on December 24, 2013


Almost every person that I've met who's parents were professors knows all these songs. it's almost like a secret code...

My wife's parents were her introduction to Lehrer, and I knew some nerdy kids in high school who loved Lehrer. It's a subversive type of humor that is found in lots of geeky, nerdy types.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:15 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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