The Death of Comedy Songs

It has crept up on me that you simply don't hear comedy songs anymore. Some might see that as a cause for celebration (those that remember "Ernie", by Benny Hill, for example), but others (well, at least me), see that as a cause for regret.

In the sixties (yes, my age is showing), there were The Barron Knights, appearing on unremembered variety shows, performing gentle piss-takes of the then current pop songs and groups. I liked them, because they weren't taking things seriously and they knew life was basically a joke.

Before my time, but discovered later, there was Tom Lehrer from the 1950's, at around the same time as the Goons, notably with the Ying Tong Song, in 1956 (and much later in 1973 - so very glam rock).

But then, a lot of songs seemed to be less than serious in the 60's: Pop goes the Weasel, David Bowies' The Laughing Gnome (however, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe they were drug related). What about Lance Percival in TW3? Pete and Dud? And, of course, the mighty Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band.

The seventies seemed to continue the trend. Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias (yes, I still have a copy of their first LP. With the re-use of riffs highlighted in "Mandrax Sunset Variations, they were truely leading the green revolution). Jasper Carrot, Jake Thackery, Fred Wedlock, some of the Pete Atkin/Clive James output. Even punk seemed to have its tongue firmly in its cheek (when it didn't interfere with gobbing): The Leighton Buzzards (nice coincidence that's where The Barron Knights originated), XTC, The Yachts, even The Table (onlie begetters of the fantastic Do the Table, surely a homage to minimalism). Remember You're a Womble. Monty Python "Eric the half a bee", plus all the other stuff at the time (drawing a veil across the aforementioned "Ernie").

The eighties seemed to be the start of the decline. Apart from Morris Minor and the Majors (Tony Hawks I'm looking at you). Later, Monty Python (with "Look on the Bright Side of Life") and Squeeze deserve an honorable mention. The 90s? Pah! The brave new 21st century? Pah!

Now it seems that only Bill Bailey and Mitch Benn (The Now Show) are holding the fort.

So, what do we have in 2011? No comedy songs, and a depression likely to make a bottomless pit look like a shallow dip. Is there a connection? I think so.