Breaking a Bad Day: The Showtunes That Make Me Smile (Sometimes for the Wrong Reasons)
Sometimes, you are just having a bad and you turn to musical to help you overcome your situation. I realized, the other day, when I was feeling a bit crabby, that I began searching through my showtunes for certain songs that always guarantee a smile-inducing listen. I thought it would be fun to share some of those songs with my readership, with the hope that you will chime in with some of the songs that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. I cannot wait to hear what you share. Until then, here are mine:
“Style” from The Magic Show
This Stephen Schwartz song from The Magic Show is one of my favorites to belt-out while I am driving. I’m not so sure that it is the song per se, but the smarmy rendition it’s given by David Ogden Stiers on the original cast album that makes me grin. Whatever the reason, the character’s name-dropping and pomposity always makes me giggle.
“The Beast in You” from Goldilocks
I hope some of you have, at some point in your showtune listening experience, stumbled upon the score for Goldilocks. With music by Leroy Anderson, and lyrics by Joan Ford and Jean and Walter Kerr, Goldilocks was a flop, but it sure has some fun songs. One of them is “The Beast in You” delivered with acerbic bliss by the late, great Elaine Stritch. A frustrated tirade sung by a woman who feels the man in her life curls-up and cowers when she needs his support is a hoot.
“I Wish I Were in Love Again” from Babes in Arms
With Lorenz Hart lyrics like “When love congeals it soon reveals the faint aroma of performing seals” how can I not be cheered-up by this witty ditty? From the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms, “I Wish I Were In Love Again” is a hilarious look at the downfalls of being in love, a reminder of the frustration of what being saddled to another person can bring. As someone who is chronically single, it makes me feel a little better about my solitude.
“An Old-Fashioned Love Story” from The Wild Party
This lesbian-on-the-prowl number from Andrew Lippa’s score for The Wild Partyis chock-full of delicious, and downright hilarious sexual innuendo. I don’t mind a showtune that is a little on the saucy and salacious side, and “An Old-Fashioned Love Story” never fails to induce guffaws a-plenty. We’ve all been to a party, hoped to hook-up before the night is out, and that predicament alone has so much comedy potential.
“Schadenfreude” from Avenue Q
Okay, okay! Taking pleasure in other people’s pain is not supposed to be funny, but dammit, it sometimes is! “Schadenfreude” from the musicalAvenue Qcaptures, perfectly, our need to laugh at the misfortune of others. The song, by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, just explodes with rib-tickling examples of how we do this. From not holding an elevator door for someone, to exes getting STDs, we all smile a little on the inside.
“You Can Always Count on Me” from City of Angels
Every David Zippel lyric from City of Angels sparkles, but “You Can Always Count on Me” remains my all-time favorite from the show. Sung by the characters of Donna/Oolie, the song is one humorous anecdote after another, two women (connected in a unique way) sharing their penchant for choosing the wrong men. The lyric “One Joe who swore he’s single got me sort of crocked, the beast! I woke up only slightly shocked that I defrocked a priest” has to be one of the funniest ever written in musical theatre history. Marry these words to a great Cy Coleman melody, and this song is certain to brighten your day!
“The Cell Block Tango” from Chicago
Murder typically isn’t the subject of humor, but when the “six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail” give us their reasons for offing the men in their life, we realize that sometimes it can be. “The Cell Block Tango” by John Kander and Fred Ebb is a half-dozen of diabolical scenarios, each with a quirky reason behind a brutal murder. The jokes will have you dying with laughter. Chicago is full of funny numbers, but this is the one I listen to on repeat when I’m having a bad day.
“Bosom Buddies” from Mame
As my good friend and sparring partner Robbie Rozelle will tell you, I cannot get enough of this Jerry Herman duet which features two diva best friends squaring-off with each other with biting honesty. It reminds me a bit of my friendship with Robbie, where scalding, frank observation and vicious tongue-wagging are often the order of the day (sometimes we play nice). Trading quips can be playful fun and this song from Mame reminds me of that brutal honesty my dear friend and I share. What else would put a bigger smile on my face?
So, how about you? What showtunes make you smile when you are having a bad day?