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Barbershop Quartets Are Funny

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A Barbershop Quartet is a four-person (traditionally all-male) band that sing A Cappella in four-part harmony. Like most music they can be and often do get used for something other than their musical merits. Oftentimes, Barbershop quartets are used for comedic effect or as a way to deliver insults that may be too crude or outrageous to be said normally but somehow becomes much more acceptable when sung by a Barbershop Quartet.

Compare to Gratuitous Mariachi Band and Singing Telegram, other musical groups that are often used for comedy.


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  • A popular Icelandic ad for prostate cancer awareness involves an (imaginary?) barbershop quartet singing to an old man while encouraging him to get checked for cancer symptoms. It does, indeed, make this serious subject considerably more funny.
  • A DirecTV commercial features NFL star Peyton Manning (who has DirecTV) and his "really high-voiced" clone (who has cable). While the real Peyton is watching NFL games on his phone app in the comfort of the team bus, his high-voiced counterpart is singing "Camptown Races" in a school music room with his barbershop quartet, the Four Tunesmen.
    Real Peyton: Don't be like this me.

    Film — Animated 
  • Animal Crackers (2017): At one point in Horatio's Villain Song, Horatio's henchmen come out of nowhere and repeat one of his lines in barbershop quartet style, complete with appropriate hats. Horatio angrily shoos them out, saying "No harmonization, thank you." The creators hired a real barbershop quartet just for this gag.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003): The singing busts are a barbershop quartet of Living Statues who repeat the words other people say as a song or go off on tangents from there, making any attempt at a sensible conversation with them impossible. They were portrayed by Disneyland's own barbershop quartet, the Dapper Dans.
  • The Muppets (2011): One of the skits the Muppets do for their telethon is a barbershop quartet rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", including Beaker who hums his "meeps". Inexplicably it ends with them shrinking Jack Black's head with a hot towel.
  • This is Spın̈al Tap: Defied when David said that he didn't like how their singing at Elvis Presley's grave sounds like "fucking barbershop, barbershop raga." They just can't sing "Heartbreak Hotel" that well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All That: In the 2019 revival, one of Ms. Hushbaum the Loud Librarian's many noisy activities is singing with "The Silencios," her barbershop quartet. Naturally she yells at them to be quiet...even though she's the one who asked them to perform in the first place. The rest of the quartet takes it in stride, apparently used to Ms. Hushbaum's habits.
  • Friends: In one episode Ross hires a barbershop quartet to visit Rachel's office on her first day at work and sing about how much he loves her. Rachel finds it embarrassing as it's clearly meant to remind her co-worker that she's taken. At the end of the episode Monica uses the same quartet to call out Julio, a waiter she'd just broken up with, for being a sexist, pretentious jerk.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: After a two-year legal battle with coal magnate Bob Murray, John Oliver launches into a 1930s song and dance number including a barbershop quartet of seven-foot squirrels. Accusing a man of being a furry who has sex with squirrels? Strange. Having seven-foot squirrels do it in a barbershop quartet complete with period accurate costumes? Hilarious!
  • Red Dwarf: In "Officer Rimmer", Rimmer gets four of his bioprinter created clones to form a barbershop quartet, complete with a Rimmer-ified version of "Mister Sandman".
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: The Ragtime Gals skits, which include covers for several Intercourse with You songs. Sometimes, they even have more than four people singing.
  • The Two Ronnies: One of their musical finales is a barbershop quartet set in a barber's shop, with the four barbers/musicians inflicting slapstick gags on their customers.
  • A barbershop quartet is called in for one of Sal's punishments on Impractical Jokers so that their leader can pee on Sal's leg.

  • The Music Man: Upon recognizing the natural timbres of their voices are perfect for it, Harold Hill organizes the four members of the River City School Board into a barbershop quartet. Although the Board is meant to be collecting Hill's (non-existent) credentials, he manages to distract them by mentioning a song that will cause them to burst into four-part harmony.

    Video Games 
  • The Action 52 Owns version of Fuzz Power features a quartet of literal barbers as major characters. They even sing the game's intro and ending!
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: The three pirates at the Barbery Coast in Puerto Pollo (Edward van Helgen, Haggis Macmutton, and Cutthroat Bill) are looking for a fourth so they can form a barbershop quartet. Guybrush can offer to audition for Edward, driving him up the wall with some truly awful singing.
  • In Stay Tooned!, looking out the window of your apartment's kitchen window will reveal there's a barbershop quartet singing outside, consisting of various recurring male characters, singing about how annoying they are.

    Web Animation 
  • Cyanide and Happiness has done this a couple of times, once to hit on a girl from a taxi and another time as a barbershop quartet of surgeons.
  • A barbershop quartet is one of the many people to get blown up by stepping on the Mine Turtle on ASDF Movie.
  • A barbershop quartet consisting of Ed, Ted, Ned and Fred were one of the characters to audition in CartoonMania.

  • The Adventures Of Dr Mcninja: Among King Radical's minions are the Dubstep Quartet, a barbershop quartet that sings dubstep to overwhelm his enemies with a sonic onslaught. This sort of thing is normal for King Radical, so he enjoys it without injury.
  • In Faux Pas, at the dual wedding for Randy and Cindy and Jon and Penny, a group of cats in this strip appear to offer their musical services in place of the originally planned choir. The foursome strike a classic corny barbershop quartet pose, with one of the cats even holding a straw hat! They get passed up.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the episode "DeeDee be Deep", DeeDee annoys Dexter by practicing her singing for school choir extremely loudly and very badly. Dexter gets her to let him use a machine on her to make her voice less annoying, but she messes with the controls causing her voice to become extremely deep, so deep in fact that she destroys things when she sings. At first she's sad because she doesn't get into the choir, but then she ends up joining a barbershop quartet.
  • One of the The Fairly OddParents! shorts on Oh Yeah! Cartoons, Timmy wishes to copy himself several times. At one point, four of his copies sing like a barbershop quartet, seemingly for no other reason than to mess with Vicky.
  • One Family Guy Cutaway Gag had Peter break Bad News in a Good Way to a terminal AIDS patient by having a barbershop quartet sing about his disease.
    • "Sibling Rivalry" had them show up to sing about a vasectomy.
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: At the start of "The Greatest Concert Ever", one of the acts auditioning to perform at the newly-rebuilt Brighton Bandshell is a barbershop quartet.
  • When Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law's Deadly Duplicator accidentally makes four copies of Mentok, they immediately form a barbershop quartet. Phil shoots three of them, and Mentok starts looking for replacements, starting with a baritone.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series half-length episode "Mrs. Hasagawa's Cats", it's shown that Jumba made a four-headed barbershop quartet experiment, Experiment 044 (a.k.a. Forehead), who is designed to annoy people by... well...
    Forehead's first three heads (singing): We're evil 'cause we sing!
    Forehead's fourth head (singing badly): Annoyingly off-key! (joined by the other three heads on the last syllable)
    Stitch (pulling his ears down): Yeesh!
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In his first appearance, the sinister Doctor Barber is accompanied by three barber's assistants who provide suitably ominous background vocals whenever he appears.
  • The Simpsons: An entire episode was dedicated to Homer's old barbershop quartet, whose story is a clear send up to The Beatles, complete with a Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out and naming one of their albums Bigger Than Jesus.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: One episode has the prehistoric counterparts of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward encounter fire for the first time. In a parody of the "Dawn of Man" sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the prehistoric SpongeBob very slowly realizes the potential usefulness of the fire as the Ominous Latin Chanting of "Lux Aeterna" by Gyorgy Ligeti plays — but the ominousness turns comedic when we see that the choral piece is being sung by a live-action barbershop quartet.

    Real Life 


Singing Sailor Crew

Ansel's shipmates are prone to spontaneous choreography.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (3 votes)

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