Jun 11, 2013

Musician Humor

A few blog posts ago I let some of you in on ‘conductor humor.’ I say ‘some of you’ because there are undoubtedly ‘others of you’ who may have already encountered jokes about conductors. But for many, it may have been a branch of the tree of jokes you had not explored prior to my post.

Having spent much time on both sides of the podium – and believing that turnabout is fair play – let’s venture into the world of musician jokes. For this exercise I am deeply indebted to the website cited at the end of this post to jog my memory.

There are many generic jokes told about almost every instrument. For instance, I have personally seen or heard the following joke about the violin, cello, double bass, oboe, clarinet, banjo, guitar. . .and I’m sure I have missed more than a few: “What is difference between a viola and an onion? No one cries when you chop up a viola.” This sort of universal joke allows the teller to be an equal opportunity disparaging agent for the instrument of their choice.

We also have jokes that single out specific instrumentalists – players – as opposed to the instruments themselves. Once again, one can fill in one’s own favorite blanks . . .accordion player, violist, flutist, trombonist, etc. “What’s the difference between a terrorist and a percussionist? Terrorists have sympathizers!” There are, of course, many variations on this ‘disparage a specific player’ genre. “What’s the difference between an assault rifle and a bad violinist? A bad violinist can kill you.”

Some musician jokes take a little thought to understand, and these typically make reference to the presumed stereotypical playing habits and personal habits of certain musicians. Brass players are frequent targets. “What is the dynamic range of the trombone? On and off.” Or “Two brass players walked out of a bar. . .”

I do encourage you to visit the website noted – all puns intended – below! If you have some knowledge of classical music written in the early 20th century, I very much hope you will click on the link at the top of the site for the ‘Twelve-Tone Commercial Joke.’ To fully appreciate the inherent humor, it also helps if you are of a sufficient age to remember radio and television commercials that featured some announcer with a gorgeously resonant voice and an ‘upper class’ accent selling ‘The Greatest Melodies of Classical Music of All Time’ on cassette tapes or CDs. I have personally cried laughing at this particular spoof.

To conclude this levity let us not neglect the jokes deriding the basic personality traits of musicians and their earning capacity. “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a musician.” To which mom replies: “Well, you know you can’t do both.” And my own personal favorite: Three individuals arrive in heaven. St. Peter says: “I must ask each of you two questions before you may pass through the pearly gates. Cynthia – what did you earn last year and what was your occupation on earth?” Cynthia: “I earned 3 million dollars last year. I was a stockbroker on Wall Street.” St. Peter: ‘Gerry – what did you earn last year and what was your occupation on earth?” Gerry: “I earned $200,000 as an internal medicine specialist.” Joe just jumped right in and blurted out: “St. Peter, I almost made $15,000 last year. . .” But before Joe could finish speaking, St. Peter interrupted: “What instrument did you play, Joe?” Musician Jokes Website