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The purpose of satire, it has been rightly said, is to strip away the blanket of comforting illusion and cozy half-truth with which we surround ourselves. And our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.—Michael Flanders At The Drop Of Another Hat
Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who co-wrote and performed comic songs in the 1950s and 1960s. Unusually for the time neither performer stood during their shows, Swann being seated at the piano and Flanders confined to a wheelchair by polio (contracted in service during World War 2).
The two began their musical careers together at school but were drawn apart on the outbreak of the war. A chance meeting in 1948 led them to begin writing comic songs for other performers to sing before they decided to start performing for themselves in a show titled At The Drop Of A Hat. After touring worldwide they returned to Britain to open their new show At The Drop Of Another Hat and recorded a number of songs not heard in either show.
In 1967 they ceased touring together but remained friends until Flanders' death in 1975.
Their works provide examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Many of their songs use this trope, and recently they have become subject to one themselves by Armstrong And Miller.
- Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: "Sounding Brass"
- Audience Participation: "The Hippopotamus"
Flanders: And tonight, by way of encouragement attendants will be passing among you. With rawhide whips.
- Black Comedy Rape: "Madeira, M'Dear" and "Philological Waltz"
- But Liquor Is Quicker: "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear"
- Days of the Week Song: "The Gasman Cometh"
- Disaster Dominoes: "The Gasman Cometh"
- Father, I Don't Want to Fight: "The Reluctant Cannibal"
- He Also Did: Donald Swann, working alone, produced an album of music from JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and became good friends with Tolkien himself.
- Here We Go Again: "The Gasman Cometh"
- Hurricane of Puns: "Greensleeves"
- I'm a Humanitarian: "The Reluctant Cannibal"
- Least Rhymable Word:
We were never able to come up with a rhyme for "Khrushchev" until he'd gone: "Did he fall, or was he pusch off?"
- Life of the Party: "Twice Shy"
- Listing Cities: "Slow Train"
- Multipurpose Monocultured Crop: "The Wompom" is about the world's most miraculous, all-purpose plant.
- Napoleon Delusion: "The Elephant"
- Overly Long Gag: "In the Desert" and "Kokoraki"
Swann: I omitted eight verses!
- Patriotic Fervour: "A Song of Patriotic Prejudice" is an Affectionate Parody.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: "Misalliance" (The tragic tale of the right-handed Honeysuckle and the left-handed Bindweed.)
- Translation: "Yes": "Songs For Our Time"
- Weird Trade Union: "Bedstead Men" (or possibly it's a Weird Secret Society)
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: "The Spider"
- With Lyrics: "Ill Wind"
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Greensleeves"