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The Mel Brooks Number
(310)555-2817. No, wait...

So you have a musical number. The music is absolutely beautiful, and the instrumental part makes you want to cry or go "Awwww...". But wait, something's wrong. There is something that is keeping you from bursting into tears. What could it be?

Humor.

You're hearing a Mel Brooks number, not necessarily a bad thing, unless you don't like musicals. This song can be described as:
  • A song with beautiful or classic-sounding orchestral arrangements but that features humorous or inappropriate lyrics.
  • A song with orchestral arrangements and gorgeous lyrics, but the choreography is funny. Or the actors are in funny costumes or wearing fake noses. Or...
  • A song that sounds like the perfect Tear Jerker...until you discover what it is really talking about.

This song is always Played for Laughs. Named for the quintessential master of this kind of song, Mel Brooks.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • The Trope Namer is Mel Brooks. Many of the songs he writes fit this trope, most obviously Springtime for Hitler from the first film version of The Producers.
    • A famous Brooks anecdote is that Frankie Laine didn't realize Blazing Saddles was a comedy when recording the theme, and Brooks didn't have the heart to tell him after such a sincere performance. Hilarity ensued.
      • Also "The French Mistake" parody of a classic 50's musical chorus, filled with Ho Yay lyrics.
    "And one and two and WATCH ME FAGGOTS!"
  • "Brian", from the opening of Monty Python's Life of Brian, fits this to a tee—beautiful orchestration and a fantastic singer (essentially a take-off of Shirley Bassey's performance in Goldfinger) undercut by silly graphics and increasingly silly lyrics.
    • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has "The Galaxy Song", a light, cheery number with a lovely instrumental break...that turns out to be about an individual human's insignificance in the universe, and "Every Sperm Is Sacred," an anthemic hymn sung by all kinds of Catholics about sperm.
    • Monty Python and the Holy Grail has "Knights of the Round Table," which includes very silly choreography and increasingly painful rhymes for "Camelot."
  • The four Oompa-Loompa songs in the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory play out this way. Danny Elfman assigns each one a different genre (Bollywood for Augustus Gloop, psychedelic Folk Rock for Veruca Salt, etc.) and gives them terrific melodies and arrangements. The lyrics (pulled from the original novel) are still about naughty kids getting their comeuppance, though, and the "rather rehearsed" dance numbers the Oompa-Loompas — all voiced by Elfman — mount are parodies of Busby Berkeley numbers, heavy metal videos, etc.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "The Lumberjack Song" from Monty Python's Flying Circus, where the backing chorus breaks up due to the lyrics' ridiculous emphasis on transvestism.

    Music 
  • Tom Lehrer was also infamous for these kind of songs. A bright, cheery serenade about killing pigeons? ("Poisoning Pigeons in the Park") A parlor-music piss-take on school fight songs ("Fight Fiercely Harvard")? Full orchestral backing for songs about humanity's utter annihilation by nuclear war ("We Will All Go Together When We Go" and "So Long, Mom"), a guy Too Kinky to Torture ("Masochism Tango"), and Reckless Gun Usage ("The Hunting Song")? And this is only a fraction of the man's catalog.
  • Jonathan Coulton is incredibly fond of these. "I Crush Everything" is a tale of loneliness and depression. As told by a giant squid. Or the nostalgia-packed ballad about a girl he knew in high school: "The Town Crotch."
  • Singer-songwriter Brute Force (real name Stephen Friedland) is a skilled musician with a Cloudcuckoolander sensibilty, so naturally he specializes in these. His most famous song, "The King of Fuh", which was one of Apple Records' first non-Beatles releases, is a beautiful ballad with exquisite strings and stirring piano. The lyrics are about the king of the land of Fuh, and the obvious pun gets used many times.

    Theater 
  • One could convincingly argue that this trope should be called The Gilbert and Sullivan Number. One of the reasons their operettas have endured with such popularity is their wonderful use of The Comically Serious, avoiding cheap laughs and instead writing beautiful melodies filled with inane, punny, or ridiculous lyrics. Perhaps one of the best is "When the Foeman Bears His Steel" from The Pirates of Penzance, a brilliantly-executed counterpoint, in which the Sergeant and his Police sing a rousing song about how they're afraid of the pirates, while the women try to bolster their spirits, and create the trope Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die in the process.
  • "Something Has Happened", from the little-known musical I Do! I Do!
  • Chicago has "Class", which has a beautiful melody (the sheet music notes that it should be played "quasi Franz Schubert") but is packed with swearing and grammatical errors.
  • The Book of Mormon is full of these:
    • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" and "Joseph Smith, American Moses," have catchy African-style melodies and lyrics full of blasphemy and Vulgar Humor.
    • "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" is a bombastic production number that depicts infernal torment no more than semi-seriously.
  • While the entire show is hysterical, "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" from Spamalot is definitely one of these... especially since the song talks about Broadway shows flopping if they can't get Jews in the cast.
  • Discussed in The Drowsy Chaperone. "Bride's Lament" is a beautiful, sad song sung by Janet van de Graaf after breaking up with her fiancÚ. However, the lyrics are completely ridiculous. The Man in Chair (who is listening to the cast recording of the Show Within a Show) says it's best to ignore the lyrics.
    I put a monkey on a pedestal
    And tried to make that monkey stay
    And he did for a time, but he needed to climb
    And with other monkeys play, far away
  • Much the way that the 2005 version did, the 2013 stage musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman) handles the four naughty kids' demises with different musical styles befitting each child's personality, while their lyrics are pure The Villain Sucks Song material. The most spectacular example is probably "Juicy!", in which Violet's transformation into a blueberry is presented as a glittering Gratuitous Disco Sequence.
  • The Gospel-Sermon "God Said" from Leonard Bernstein's Mass starts out as a mostly pious uptempo song-and-dance number, but the last line of the refrain, "And it was goddamn good," foreshadows the lyrics' descent into increasingly vicious satire on religion.

    Western Animation 
  • "Up There", from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. One of the better "I Want" Songs . . . sung by Satan.
    "They may cut your dick in half,"
    "And serve it to a pig,"
    "And when it hurts, you'll laugh,"
    "And dance a dickless jig."
    "But that's the way it goes,"
    "In war you're shat upon."
  • Animaniacs had "Yakko's Universe", a musical Expy of Monty Python's "Galaxy Song", with a charming uptempo orchestral arrangement straight out of a classic Disney cartoon.

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