Monday, October 29, 2007


Shock-comedy. It's been a while since a novelty number got anyone upset: Tom Lehrer and "The Vatican Rag." Napoleon XIV and "They're Coming to Take Me Away." Some tunes from Monty Python, who are now old enough to be grandpas.
Here's "Top Blokes After Death," a eulogy to recently deceased (mostly Australian) celebrities. It was broadcast on the TV series "The Chaser's War on Everything." Not on "Saturday Night Live" or Howard Stern's not too Sirius radio show.
From lampooning the way people eulogize a bastard at his funeral, the song takes a giant leap into bad taste, noting all the celebs who became saints because they died:
"Princess DI was just a slut for sex, when they looked in the car wreck, her dress was wet with Arab semen stains..."
Have we forgotten all Diana did for charity? For a laugh, yes.
This blunt tune certainly hits targets that don't deserve it. Croc hunter Steve Irwin may have been a "cartoon" but he wasn't tormenting crocs for fun. He was a conservationist, and eulogies after his sudden and tragic death let people know just how good and caring this guy really was.
Then there's Moms Mabley who said: "You should say something good about the dead. He's dead. GOOD!"
That's the thrust behind most of the celeb names mentioned...Aussies who committed such sins as not scoring an important goal in a key match, or speaking their mind (as much as the singer here does).
Of course a eulogy is usually the first and last time a jerk gets any praise, and we all go back to talking trash before long. As Shakespeare said, "The good is oft interred with their bones," so our goofy-faced rake is really just having a nose-tweak over the fact that, even for a moment, somebody got attention that should've gone to, oh, him instead.
The lines about John Lennon? His assassination was a hurt that will never heal for many of us. He became a saint after death? I don't think so. He honestly debunked his celebrity in his lifetime, and today there's no shortage of bloggers who gripe that "Imagine" isn't a very good song, or that Yoko is keeping them from some imagined vault of Beatles treasures.
But...a quickly written snarky song intended to offend should be taken for what it is.
The author and singer rightly declared (as the controversy began) that they weren't concerned with how the dead celeb's friends and family would react. Comedians can't worry that they won't offend a small percentage of their audience. The singer even acknowledges this problem of self-censorship when, as he's about to include Belinda Emmett (who died of bone cancer at 32), a groan of protest from fellow cast-members arises. The singer reluctantly reigns in his evil fun.
Privately, comics will tell you of Steve Allen's formula: comedy=tragedy + time. When they don't get a laugh with some tasteless joke about Sonny Bono, Steve Irwin or Princess Diana, they mutter "Not enough time..."
Fans are still shaken over Belinda Emmett's tragic last months, so a "curb your enthusiasm" recital of her faults isn't that appropriate. Not for a woman who did seem to be good, courageous and selfless. On her deathbed, Belinda's last words were to her weeping sister: "Are you all right?" And, if you want to bother thinking about it, a "curb your enthusiasm" smack about most anyone's eulogy is misplaced, since after the eulogy people generally go back to remembering the evil the person did.
I have no idea about Peter Brock, Don Bradman, Anna Coren, some guy named Zemanek, etc. One fault of songs like this is not everybody gets the references, but I doubt the author ever thought his tune would gain notoriety around the world (just on the Diana, Irwin and Lennon lines!)
Here's the song written by Chris Taylor. It's performed with vaudevillian Lehrer-type piano work and a slightly Palin or Idle-ized delivery by Andrew Hansen.
Eulogy - Top Blokes After Death Instant download or listen on line. No wait time, porn ads or pop-ups.

1 comment:

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