March 24, 2011

With the nation broke, Congress snoozing, and the president dithering, what we need is a laugh. Here are two offerings of different kinds of humor. My own taste”€”English Lad Crude & Silly”€”inclines me more toward the first offering: Indian pop lyrics.

Here’s a catchy little number from the land of curry and call centers. Sample lyrics:

May he poop on my knee?
(Repeat twice)
Kitty all go see
Much a finny-D.
Could you tell it to her maid
And see me be?

Would you mustard my hole
With a genie, babe?
(Repeat twice)

May he poop on my knee?

Those are not the actual lyrics, which are in Hindi or something. That’s just what they sound like to an English-speaking ear. (Oh, you know what I mean.)

There’s a whole genre of these things. “€œMy loony bun is fine Benny Lava” gets my Best Dancing Award. “Let’s punch an apple” has a more authentically Indian sound, while “€œThe Nipple Song“€ is hard to beat for scenic staging. (Nipples feature a lot in this genre. Every nation has its favorite body part, I guess.)

Human beings have been making fun of each other’s languages and dialects for as long as we’ve had the power of speech”€”half a million years, according to some authorities. As kids in England, we mocked the American accents we heard in the movies:

Yank: What kind of work d’you do?
Brit: I’m a clerk.
Yank: You’re a what?
Brit: A clerk.
Yank: If you’re a clark, why don’t you go “tick, tark, tick, tark”?

Etc., etc.

What those YouTube posters are doing with Hindi can be done to some degree with one’s own language. Back in the days of cassette tapes, Maxell Corp. made a commercial by playing the misheard-lyrics game with Desmond Dekker’s “The Israelites.”

“€œWith the nation broke, Congress snoozing, and the president dithering, what we need is a laugh.”€

You don’t even need an exotic dialect to work from. In my early teen years, when Elvis’s song “Stuck on You” was a hit, we had long schoolyard discussions about what Elvis said in the line that followed “A team of wild horses couldn’t tear us apart.” Well, we all knew he said: “Uh biduh bayduh biduh booduh baddy bye,” but what did it mean? The controversy raged until one lad, whose older brother played in a pop group, procured the sheet music.

Oh, the Hindi thing works with Urdu, too. Just stay the heck away from the Mongolian versions.

And then there’s this nicely produced book of cartoons a kind publisher sent me. (My line of work doesn’t pay worth a damn, but you get free books up the wazoo.)


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