[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hqdefault.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"Come back tomorrow night, we're gonna do… fractions."]]

->''"I find that if you take the various popular song forms to their logical extremes, you can arrive at almost anything from the ridiculous to the obscene--or, as they say in [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity New York]], sophisticated."''
-->-- '''Tom Lehrer''', ''Music/TomLehrerRevisited''

Thomas Andrew Lehrer (born April 9, 1928) is an American satirist who managed to achieve remarkable popularity and impact on popular culture, despite having produced only three albums' worth of material in the [[TheFifties 1950s]] and [[TheSixties '60s]] before retiring to a life in academia as a mathematician. Lehrer's pieces often take the form of witty parodies of various popular song forms. Other common themes in his work are disapproval of [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking nuclear war, Cold War politics, and folk singing]]. Of course, he undercuts that last by putting forth as perfect a rendition of such songs as can be done with only a piano ("imagine that I am playing an 88-string guitar", as he said in his intro to "The Folk Song Army," on his 1965 album ''That Was the Year That Was'') as accompaniment.

He also wrote 10 songs for the children's educational series ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971''.

Lehrer is still alive, and occasionally performing. At the 80th birthday party of a fellow mathematician and friend Irving "Kaps" Kaplansky, [[http://www.archive.org/details/lehrer he dusted off a handful of mathematics songs]] to an appreciative crowd of students and fellow mathematicians.

[[Music/WeirdAlYankovic "Weird Al" Yankovic]] cites Tom Lehrer as one of his inspirations, while Creator/DrDemento has described him as "the greatest musical satirist of the 20th Century." Lehrer's own inspirations notably include Creator/GilbertAndSullivan, Creator/DannyKaye and Music/ColePorter. He also claimed to have invented the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin_dessert#Gelatin_shots Jell-O shot]] as a way of circumventing military base regulations, though the idea goes at least as far back as the 1862 book, ''How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion''.

The website [[http://graeme.50webs.com/lehrer/index.htm Tom Lehrer Song Lyrics (With Annotations)]] features a collection of, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnThetin his annotated lyrics]].

TropeNamer for TheMasochismTango.

!!Discography
* ''Music/SongsByTomLehrer'' (1953)
* ''Music/AnEveningWastedWithTomLehrer'' (1959)[[note]]A live album[[/note]]
* ''More of Tom Lehrer'' (1959)[[note]]A vanilla studio release of the material from ''An Evening...''[[/note]]
* ''Revisited'' (1960)[[note]]A live album with the material from ''Songs by...''; the CD version also contains two songs he wrote for ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971''[[/note]]
* ''Music/ThatWasTheYearThatWas'' (1965)

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!!Albums with their own trope pages:

* ''Music/SongsByTomLehrer'' (and ''Tom Lehrer Revisited'')
* ''Music/AnEveningWastedWithTomLehrer'' (and ''More of Tom Lehrer'')
* ''Music/ThatWasTheYearThatWas''

!!Non-album songs display examples of:

* ActingUnnatural: In one of Tom Lehrer's compositions for ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971'', "L-Y", this trope comes into play in the second verse. Enhanced by the animation for the song, in which the "secret agent man" leans against the safe he is trying to open while playing with a yo-yo and smiling ear to ear.
-->You're a secret agent man\\
Who's after the secret plan\\
How do you act so they don't know you're a spy?\\
Ah-normally ''(NotSoInnocentWhistle)'' Normally ''(whistles again)''\\
Normal... L-Y!
* AntiLoveSong: Numerous examples.
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Inverted with the the review-quotes he included on at least one of his album covers:
--->"More desperate than amusing" — New York Herald Tribune\\
"He seldom has any point to make except obvious ones" — The Christian Science Monitor\\
"Mr. Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." — New York Times\\
"Obvious, jejune, and remarkably unsophisticated." — London Evening Standard\\
[[DamnedByFaintPraise "Plays the piano acceptably"]] — The Oakland Tribune
* BestialityIsDepraved: From "I Got It from Agnes":
---> She then gave it to Daniel, whose spaniel has it now.
* '''BlackComedy''': Lots and lots of examples, but "I Got It from Agnes" has this doozy: "Max got it from Edith, who gets it every spring/ [[ParentalIncest She got it from her daddy]], [[DaddysGirl who just gives her everything]]..."
** It [[SerialEscalation gets better]]: "She gave it to Daniel whose [[BestialityIsDepraved spaniel]] has it now/ Our dentist's even got it and we're '''''[[InstantSedation still]] [[BlackComedyRape wondering]] [[DudeShesLikeInAComa how]].'''''"
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Aside from being a quirky satirist, he's a Harvard-educated mathematician and a ''very'' accomplished pianist.
* EatingContest: The setting of the "Eagerly" verse of "L-Y".
* EducationalSong: Wrote several for ''Series/{{The Electric Company|1971}}'', including "L-Y", "N'T", and "Silent E".
* EpunymousTitle: The stage revue ''Tomfoolery''.
* FilkSong: Virtually everything he wrote has been adopted as "Found Filk," notwithstanding--or perhaps in spite of--Lehrer's feelings about folk music. There have even been full Tom Lehrer Sing-Alongs.
* GallowsHumor: His nuclear war songs.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar:
** "I Got It from Agnes." What "it" is is never specified, but we can guess.
--->I love my friends, and they love me\\
We're just as close as we can be\\
And just because we really care\\
Whatever we get, we share.
** Sadly, Lehrer did ''not'' originally get this past the radar, as his recording of it was not released until 1997 as a bonus track on ''Songs & More Songs by Tom Lehrer'', a compilation rerelease of two albums from the 1950s. The first released recording of it was from the ''Tom Foolery'' soundtrack in 1980. However, as it turns out, ''Lehrer himself'' was responsible for the song being unreleased at the time, as he felt it was too racy. He was known to perform it in nightclubs going back to the ''1950s'', though.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: A lot of the GallowsHumor in his songs is predicated on the fact that nuclear war with the USSR and the subsequent TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt was considered inevitable at the time.
* HangingOurClothesToDry: In the "Patiently" verse of "L-Y".
* HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight: Inverted. Lehrer loved both music and comedy, but was almost aggressively indifferent to his status as a celebrity. For example, Lehrer used to plan his tours by which cities he wanted to visit, and saw touring as a way of getting his agent to pay for an extended vacation overseas. He also famously kept the master recordings of his studio output in a shoebox in his attic. Said shoebox was later given to a fan who asked if he had ever done a recording of a certain song with the words "If I have, it's in there somewhere".
* InsultBackfire:
** His songs are well-liked among the more humorous folk and {{Filk}} singers.
** For himself, Lehrer was very fond of a review he'd once received, and loved to quote it: "Mr. Lehrer's muse is [[TheUnfettered not fettered]] by such inhibiting factors as taste."
* JukeboxMusical: ''Tom Foolery''.
* KnowsAGuyWhoKnowsAGuy: "I Got It from Agnes" in the sense of carnal knowledge.
* LeastRhymableWord: Multiple examples. Lehrer loves working around this.
* ListSong: "I Got It from Agnes": who got it from whom.
* LoveDodecahedron: "I Got It from Agnes", assuming one obvious interpretation of what "it" is. Tom, Agnes, Jim, Louise, Harry, and Marie appear in the first verse alone.
* LyricalDissonance: "I Got It from Agnes" is a cheerful ditty about the spread of VD through vectors including parental incest, zoophilia, and a homosexual threesome (Aha! Lucky Pierre!).
* MeaningfulName: "Lehrer" is German for "teacher".
* TheMelBrooksNumber: Arguably could be called the Tom Lehrer number. Classical arrangement, orchestral backing (in at least two cases), plenty of GeniusBonus, and content that ranges from BlackComedy, GallowsHumor, ribald, or just caustic - but it's always hilarious.
* MidwordRhyme: Done constantly, and always for the RuleOfFunny. In an interview he once used this as a workaround for the infamous lack of rhymes with "orange": "Eating an orange/While making love/Makes for a bizarre enj-/oyment thereof."
* MoneySong: "Selling Out"
* OurProductSucks:
** One album was named ''An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer''; another's cover quoted several unflattering reviews of his work, including one from the ''New York Times'' saying "Mr. Lehrer's muse is [[TheUnfettered not fettered]] by such inhibiting factors as taste."
** [[InsultBackfire He really liked that, and used to quote it often]].
** The liner notes for his albums would say, "If you did not enjoy this album, you will most definitely not enjoy (names of his other albums)."
** He released a songbook titled ''Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer''.
* OverlyLongGag: In the song "When You Are Old and Grey," he uses so much "-ility" rhymes that he (intentionally) gets worn-out about three-quarters of the way through. This is taken to PatterSong extremes in ''Tomfoolery''.
** Namely, the original song only has the following: debility, utility, mobility, possibility, probability, virility, fertility, desirability, liability, sterility, hostility, futility, agility, facility, senility, and ability. ''Tomfoolery'' adds: compatibility, fragility, advisability, durability, inflexibility, volatility, inconceivability, humility, nobility, puerility, indispensability, versatility, irresponsibility, juvenility, adorability, and imbecility.
* PainfulRhyme: Sometimes spectacularly so, and [[InvokedTrope entirely deliberate]]. There are some truly rough ones in "(I'm Spending) Hannukah in Santa Monica":
-->Those Eastern winters, I can't endure 'em\\
So every year I pack my gear and come out here till Purim
-->Rosh Hashanah, I spend in Ari-''zah''-na\\
And Yom Kippur, way down in Mississippur...
* ParentalIncest: Played for laughs in "I Got It from Agnes" (which is probably about venereal disease) with the lines:
-->Max got it from Edith, who gets it every spring\\
She got it from her daddy, who gives her everything
* PoesLaw: Lehrer responded to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger by commenting that "satire is obsolete". (Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, that's not why he quit performing. He had already quit because he was tired of touring and redoing the same songs over and over.)
* RefugeInAudacity: Some of his lyrics can still turn heads, and as noted he first released most of his songs in the 1950s.
* ScaryMusicianHarmlessMusic: Inverted. Lehrer looks like the math professor he is, and his tunes are all happy, upbeat piano pieces, but egad, the lyrics!
* SerialEscalation: Each verse of "I Got It from Agnes" endeavours to be more controversial than the last, gradually implying DepravedBisexual tendencies, a [[ThreesomeSubtext gay threesome]], ParentalIncest, a man who [[BestialityIsDepraved bred with his dog]] and finally that their dentist raped one of them while they were under anaesthetic.
* SesameStreetCred:
** If you've only heard one song of Lehrer's, it's probably "Silent E" from ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971''. Beware: '''EarWorm.''' Or "L-Y" from the same show.
** Or maybe your Chemistry teacher introduced you to "The Elements".
*** "The Elements" has even been used in ''science documentaries''.
*** And now ''Series/TheBigBangTheory''.
*** And on the ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' episode "Ex-File."
*** And frequently, Creator/DanielRadcliffe will dust off the song from memory when he's a guest on daytime, evening, and late-night talk-shows, so does that mean Lehrer also has [[Franchise/HarryPotter Diagon Alley]] cred to his name?
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Professor Lehrer would frequently utilize very elongated words and sophisticated language.
* ShoutOut: Various recorded versions of "Lobachevsky" credit Creator/BrigitteBardot, Creator/IngridBergman, Creator/DorisDay, and Creator/MarilynMonroe as playing the hypotenuse in [[TheFilmOfTheBook the film version]] of ''The Eternal Triangle''.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSong: "That's Mathematics" was originally written to the tune of "That's Entertainment", but he couldn't get the rights so he had to write a new tune (which is still similar because it had to fit the existing lyrics).
* TeenGenius: He earned a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Harvard. At 19. Yeah.
* ThatMysteriousThing: "I Got It from Agnes" never actually says what "it" is, although the song's humor is based on there being an obvious assumption that can be made.
* ToTheTuneOf: "O-U (The Hound Song)", written for ''The Electric Company'', uses "Caro nome" from ''Theatre/{{Rigoletto}}''.
* TheUnfettered: According a review by the ''New York Times'' which he proudly quotes: "Mr Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste".
* ViewersAreGeniuses: The historical stuff nowadays, thanks to the topical aspect (see TheGreatPoliticsMessUp, ParentalBonus). His scientific songs, though, definitely qualify; in fact, before Lehrer even recorded an album, he performed the "[[http://www.haverford.edu/physics/songs/lehrer/physrev.htm Physical Revue]]" to a group of Harvard physics students.
* WithCatlikeTread: "O-U (The Hound Song)" from ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971'', where a hound sings loudly about how he dare not make a sound.
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