Monday, February 06, 2006


Not much to say today, so I'll just post a song lyric about having nothing to say. This is from the operetta His Excellency, written by W.S. Gilbert in the early 1890s; it's a very good libretto that, unfortunately, was not set by Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert gave it to another, inferior composer, and the result was a flop. (The sad thing is that the libretto Gilbert then wrote for Sullivan, The Grand Duke, wasn't nearly as good as His Excellency, so Gilbert was wasted on His Excellency and Sullivan was wasted on Grand Duke.) A semi-autobiographical song, not unlike some of Jack Point's songs in Yeomen of the Guard, was given to a practical joker who complains that all the good jokes have already been done:

Quixotic is his enterprise, and hopeless his adventure is,
Who seeks for jocularities that haven't yet been said.
The world has joked incessantly for over fifty centuries,
And every joke that's possible has long ago been made.
I started as a humorist with lots of mental fizziness,
But humour is a drug which it's the fashion to abuse;
For my stock in trade, my fixtures, and the goodwill of the business
No reasonable offer I am likely to refuse.
And if anybody choose
He may circulate the news
That no reasonable offer I am likely to refuse.

Oh happy was the humourist - the first that made a pun at all -
Who when a joke occurred to him, however poor and mean,
Was absolutely certain that it never had been done at all -
How popular at dinners must that humourist have been!
Oh the days when some stepfather for the query held a handle out,
The door-mat from the scraper, is it distant very far?
And when no one knew where Moses was when Aaron put the candle out,
And no one had discovered that a door could be a-jar!
But your modern heroes are
In their tastes particular,
And they sneer if you inform them that a door could be a-jar!

In search of quip and quiddity I've sat all day, alone, apart -
And all that I could hit on as a problem was - to find
Analogy between a scrag of mutton and a Bone-a-part,
Which offers slight enjoyment to the speculative mind:
For you cannot call it very good, however good your charity -
It's not the sort of humour that is greeted with a shout -
And I've come to the conclusion that the mine of jocularity,
In present Anno Domini, is worked completely out!
Though the notion you may scout,
I can prove beyond a doubt
That the mine of jocularity is utterly worked out!

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