Victor Borge dies.
December 23, 2000 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Victor Borge dies. The number of comedic musicians who make fun of the form has always been extremely small; I can only think of three. The Big Band era had Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Modern rock has Weird Al. But Classical music had its own, and it was Victor Borge. Like the City Slickers and like Weird Al, in order to do a good job of making fun of something you must be technically excellent at it, and he was a superb pianist, and did do some serious performances. But his main stock in trade was comedy. I remember seeing him perform on TV when I was a kid, which would have been near the end of his career. I don't include Tom Lehrer among their number; he wasn't making fun of music, he was using music as a medium to deliver jokes. The Smothers Brothers perhaps qualify, making fun of folk music, and they too were superb technically when they wanted to be serious. Any others?
posted by Steven Den Beste (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ray Stevens in the Country gendre? Though he did have crossover pop hits (Ahab The Arab, Everything Is Beautiful), I always thought of him as a C/W performer.
posted by Alwin at 4:56 PM on December 23, 2000

Downtown hipsters BONGWATER (Kramer and actress Ann Magnuson) released a number of albums in the early 90's which successfully skewered the mythology of rock, musically and figuratively. Good, nasty tunes.

Recently transplanted downtown hipster Nick "MOMUS" Currie writes and performs lots of pop which pokes caustic fun at the form. Excellent songwriter who always entertains, so much so that Wendy Carlos sued him a few years ago.

Now I know what I'm going to listen to tonight...
posted by red cell at 5:09 PM on December 23, 2000

I loved watching Victor Borge whenever he was on TV when I was younger. Of course, also having fun with the "classics" is PDQ Bach.
posted by bradlands at 5:42 PM on December 23, 2000

I guess with the departure of Borge, the classical venue is left to P.D.Q. Bach, aka Peter Schickele of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. First exposed to him back in High School (Class of '68, East Brunswick, NJ), when I was a band geek (Clarinet and saxophone). T/he/y just released a compilation of the early recordings on Vanguard (the best, IMHO), featuring superb puns both verbal ("What does feel to be running? Only he who is running, running, running knows." from the libretto of Iphegenia in Brooklyn.) and musical.

I, too, remember Borge on the TV, probably from the Ed Sullivan show, bringing classical gas to the masses. Geez -- you've got me going down memory lane, especially when classical music that a kid could appreciate on Black and White TV was dominated by Bernstein's Young Peoples' Concerts (somebody should resurrect that concept...didn't Wynton Marsalis do something like it for jazz a few years ago).

Ahh . . . the golden age of Black and White -- Bernstein, Borge, and the Beatles.

(Damn -- While I was waxing prolific, bradlands beat me to the PDQ post.)

posted by fpatrick at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2000

I'm embarassed. How could I forget Peter Schickele?

Would you classify Roger Miller as making fun of C/W with songs like "You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd"? I'm not sure about that; a lot of C/W has always been strange, with performers like Tom T. Hall, for instance. I think that just goes with the territory. It's hard to single out a specific performer who skewers the others the way Weird Al skewers rock, for instance.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:58 PM on December 23, 2000

Of course, there's Spinal Tap.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:03 PM on December 23, 2000

Sad news. BTW, if Metafiter is down again you can reach the Metafilter mirror site here. B
ookmark the mirror site.

posted by supremecourt at 6:15 PM on December 23, 2000

Funny... The Borge story made Yahoo's front page. I didn't realize he was that popular.

I was more upset to hear that Thomas Yohe, the creator of Schoolhouse Rock, died today. Also, Billy Barty is dead at 76.
posted by waxpancake at 9:42 PM on December 23, 2000

Well, that makes three... another triple celebrity death. Odd, ain't it???
posted by Dirjy at 11:11 PM on December 23, 2000

I would include Allan Sherman among your list of musicians who made fun of the form.

Complete discography and lyrics.

My favorite Sherman tune.

Good bio, some lyrics, audio links to songs.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:55 AM on December 24, 2000

Dirjy, I counted four in the last round: Robert Buck, Pops Staples, Kirsty MacColl and Milt Hinton ... unless you don't count Hinton as a "celebrity." S'cool if not ...
posted by allaboutgeorge at 1:58 AM on December 24, 2000

Dirjy: the BBC were mourning the "Singing Postman" and the "Prince of the Scottish Accordian" last night, along with Victor Borge. Which counts, just about, as three.
posted by holgate at 1:58 PM on December 24, 2000

Damn it. I never got to see him perform live (Borge, that is). I have two of his videos, and man, that guy had some perfect timing.

posted by annathea at 2:01 PM on December 24, 2000

Who was the Prince of the Scottish Accordion?
posted by rodii at 6:35 PM on December 24, 2000

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