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Barbershop Quartets Are Funny

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Hilarity incoming!

Barbershop Quartets have a long and storied history in music. Like most music they can 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, another musical group that is 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.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The Haunted Mansion: 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.
  • 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.
  • The Muppets: 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: After a two-year legal battle with coal magnate Bob Murray, John Oliver launches into a 1930's 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 ment 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.

  • The Music Man: Harold Hill organizes the four members of the River City School Board into a barbershop quartet that bursts into four-part harmony at the slightest excuse.

    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.

    Web Animation 
  • Cyanide & 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • Another episode had them show up to sing about a vasectomy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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