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Funny / They Might Be Giants

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  • In the video for You Probably Get That A Lot, Linnell goes completely mute near the end, leaving the rest of the band to play on. He then comes back to say the "-ly" in the word "spontaneously."
    • That's also in the Album Raises Troubling Questions remix.
    • The song itself: already funny as a straightforward ode to an extremely quirky girl ("melting down some army guys to make green tea"), hilarious once you look up the word "cephalophore" and find out that Cloud Cuckoolander doesn't cut it. "The way you swing your head" is more literal than you'd think.
  • There was an anecdote about falling for a Snipe Hunt-like trick that John Linnell used to routinely tell between songs during a tour in 1999: While in Rhode Island, someone recommended he go out to a particular deli and try a local delicacy called baby fingers. The deli existed, but "baby fingers" did not - the punchline was a breathlessly exclaimed " was a trick, there's no such thing as baby fingers and the guy thought I was a freak!"
    • Another constant source of hilarity at the band's live shows: Whenever They play "Snowball In Hell," John and John tend to improvise a routine (or record one in advance) in which they mercilessly lampoon the sample on the studio bridge.
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    • A running gag in the "Our Options Have Changed" tour was to have They Might Be Giants take calls to the Dial-A-Song service mid-show. The callers (played by Flansburgh, speaking through a pitch-shifter) included Mama They Might Be Giants (who gave birth to quintuplets and, in the ensuing stupor, could only come up with three names) and an increasingly furious David Miscavidge, who speaks in a squeaky voice and sends the band all manner of baffling, empty threats.
    • Whenever they play "No One Knows My Plan," they prelude by kicking up a conga line the way only they know how. Lines vary between performances, but include such gems as "I'm not fucking kidding, put your hands on the hips of a stranger," exaggerated claims about the size of the conga line, and Flansburgh's attempts to get the line careening at speed through the audience.
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    • In at least one performance of "Don't Let's Start", John Linnell has humorously abbreviated part of the second verse ("everybody dies frustrated and sad / and that is beautiful"), leaving it as simply:
    No one in the world ever gets what they want
    And that is beautiful
    Everybody diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiies!
    • Right as the intermission ended during concerts for the band's 2018 tour, fans were routinely greeted with this video. It features a demo track of "Last Wave" that takes the Lyrical Dissonance of the original all the way into Crosses the Line Twice territory. The demo is a Bad Lip Reading-style spoof of "Walk This Way," wherein John Linnell mocked up the final version's call-and-response by singing several tracks through a pitch-shifter. Somehow, it's even more chipper than the final cut.
  • "Did you say... what I think you just said — my hat looks good on me? I agree! I agree!" in "The Cap'm." It makes an especially good Chew-Out Fake-Out because the song sort of dies down to create tension and then kicks back up again when it turns out the narrator is still happy. The music is being funny as well as the lyrics.
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  • On the Amazon release of "Here Come The ABCs," there is a re-recorded and re-worked version of their song "Hovering Sombrero" (originally of their "Mink Car" album). The original song is slow and relaxing. Their new version is fast, cacophonous, and only one original verse is kept. Every other lyric is replaced with Linnell, singing gibberish in a comically deep voice, and several overdubs of Flansburgh in the background shouting "B!" and "BO!" whenever the other John is silent.
  • Most of the in-between banter and discussion from the Frank O'Toole radio show on WFMU counts as this. It might be one of the silliest things ever recorded, and can be downloaded here
    • Special mention goes to the full version of "Doris Cunningham," as it was broadcast on the show. It's a clear example of the sort of humor that would later lead to such sketches as "Lesson No. 19" and "Turtle Songs of North America."
    • "We Just Go Nuts at Christmastime", the first song proper from the show, might be either this or a Tear Jerker:
    Seems like only yesterday, our D-I-V-O-R-C-E,
    I love you both, and yuletide is pure H-E-double-L for me
    ...but the spoken word on the bridge of this version qualifies it by a long shot:
    Hi, this is John [Flansburgh] of They Might Be Giants, and you're listening to the Frank O'Toole radio show on WFMU. If you're driving your car now, we urge you to sit back, relax, close your eyes, and drive really fast.
    • One of the few incoming Dial-A-Song messages the band ever made public appears in this special:
    Hey, how come the big fat guy never talks? How come it's always the little scrawny guy who gives the information at the end of the tape? I wanna hear the big fat guy, who looks like... Danny Aykroyd, only fatter.
  • "You're On Fire" is incredibly blasé, even though the narrator's telling the subject that their head is on fire.
    As I'm sure you're aware
    You've got one of those rare
    Combustible heads
    I read an article all about them
    • The second verse is something to behold
    No, you can't park there
    Whoa. Your head's on fire
  • From The Spine Surfs Alone, there's "Skullivan," a hilarious inversion of their usual take on Lyrical Dissonance. It feature's Flansburg's distorted voice wailing such lines as "I'll make you a pot of tea, how does everyone like their tea" and "I rented Tootsie, you gotta check this out" as Linnell chants the refrain over a tense, powerful instrumental.
  • The live version of "Hideaway Folk Family", as captured on the online-only release First Album Live, has them taking the Subliminal Seduction parody aspect of the "fake backwards" singing section a little further: Among the usual nonsense syllables are "Natas", "Yasmin Bleeth", and "Meryl Streep".
  • At one point in their 1989 hit "Birdhouse In Your Soul", the nightlight singing describes some of the other decor in the room. There's just something adorably comical about the mental image of a tiny canary-shaped nightlight trying to be helpful as a lighthouse only for reality to ensue.
    There's a picture opposite me of my primitive ancestry
    Which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck-free
    Though I respect that a lot, I'd be fired if that was my job
    After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts
    • Speaking of the night light, thanks to this song it exists! And as you can imagine, the reviews are full of references to the song, most of which are pretty funny, particularly this one from the user "Ducks Scare Me":
    "PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, only use this as directed! I ignored the directions and figured it would make a good lighthouse and now my beaches are covered in shipwrecks. The countless screams of the Argonauts will forever haunt my dreams. Well, at least they would but for my only friend, my little glowing friend, who watches over me."
  • "Erase," off the 2015 Dial-A-Song reboot (and later, Glean), is a gleefully dark tune which includes such gems as:
    Think of this as solving problems that should never have occurred
    Please don't call it strangulation, that is such an ugly word
    • The video for All the Lazy Boyfriends shows various boyfriends getting 'sign-shamed'; the transgressions listed start with reasonable bouts of laziness like "I clip my toenails in bed" and "I never make reservations" but soon turn to absurd things like "I pay someone to shell my pistachios" and "I don't double-check my logarithmic functions". Also included are boyfriends who "worked 15 days in the last 15 years" or "always use the warps". Even on some of the more normal ones, the visuals are still fairly ridiculous.
  • "Thinking Machine", another Dial-A-Song track (later on Why?), is a duet wherein Flansburgh sings Word Salad Lyrics and Linnell responds pretty much as the listener would:
    Flansburgh: Gurb long trom flom dim fim lim
    Linnell: Pretty sure that’s gibberish
    Flansburgh: Dog dog dog dog dog dog dog
    Linnell: Now you’re just repeating the word "dog"
    • This particular passage is made funnier by the music video, where dogs materialize with every repetition of the word dog... Then one of the dogs promptly lifts its leg...
    • Off the same album: "Hello Mrs. Wheelyke," wherein Flansburgh's sincere, mundane calls pair with Linnell's spirited, absurd responses.
    • "I Made A Mess," whose completely dramatic delivery would be a textbook case of Felony Misdemeanor—except each passing verse suggests the eponymous Noodle Incident is far worse than last implied.
    I'll need a ton of mops and glue
    And soap and towels and paint
    And power tools
    • "Oh You Did." Robin Goldwasser, John and John are pitch-perfect in their roles as a beleaguered mother and her admonished sons, even though the latter two were in their mid-fifties and the former is six years younger. The song starts out pretty straightforward, with the kids getting in trouble for insulting their father or wrecking the house, but quickly gets into ridiculous territory, such as them shaving the family pet and stuffing its hair into the milk carton for reasons unexplained.
  • Speaking of Dial-A-Song, there's also "ECNALUBMA," (later on Phone Power) which takes Amusing Injuries and Bloody Hilarious to heights unprecedented.
    Help me out, I can't seem to get this window open
    Never mind, now it's open
    I think my hand is broken
  • The Elektra Records promo videos for Flood and Apollo 18, which both tweak music industry hype in distinctly different ways.
    • The Flood promo is hosted by the Johns in a coffee shop, where they talk to the audience in a very stilted way, introduce very brief clips (the Title Drop phrases) of all the songs on the album, and explain their reason for making the album.
      Linnell: Some records that come out today only have ten songs, or less.
      Flansburgh: (calmly) This makes us angry.
      Linnell: But instead of cursing the darkness, John and I have decided to do something about it. We've put out a record with nineteen songs on it.
      Flansburgh: And that's why our record is better.
    • For Apollo 18, the Johns don't even appear except for one still photo (and the video for "The Statue Got Me High"). Instead, it's presented as an educational filmstrip touting the album as a work of intense labor and high technology.
      Narrator: All tempos have been tested in our sound laboratories from 10 to 500 beats per minute to create that indescribable vibe we call the music of They Might Be Giants. The wind tunnel is the final testing ground. If the recordings can survive this test, they are ready for the public. They Might Be Giants has done everything within the limits of what is possible to create a product which surpasses all previous standards of enjoyability.

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