The Pirates of Penzance provides a lyric most redoubtable:
The Major General's song therein is reckoned Stock Shout-Out-able,
And Mr. Gilbert's verses, as a vehicle for parody
On many varied themes, are copied with particularity.
To demonstrate the actor's elocution and acuity
For singing rapid tongue twisters with total perspicuity,
Sir Arthur's tune is catchy, too — though some can't name the latter's song...
- It's still become the model of the modern Filk or Patter Song
It's still become the model of the modern Filk or Patter Song
It's still become the model of the modern Filk or Filk or Patter Soooooong...
Because the tune in question is so very recognizable
To make a Trope about it is a project not despisable—
And to be most laconic, any sort of Made of Win-full song
Is likely to be based upon the Modern Major Gen'ral Song.
The convention in operettas is to title songs by their first line, making the specific song being parodied actually entitled "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General."
Performed by Characters:
- A Geico commercial has a guy singing the Major General Song, dressed in costume.
- In tenner's Doctor Who fanfic, Growing Pains, Doc is captured and experimented on by alien hunters. He fights back by singing this song until they meet his demands. Over and over and over. For days.
- In Elementals of Harmony, chapter seven has Pinkie Pie sing her own version: "I am the very model of a modern cartoon character." And yes, there is a chorus. Par for the course with ponies, pretty much a hole-in-one with Pinkie.
- The MLP Loops: Loop 53.3 has Twilight Sparkle singing her own version for her coronation - "I am the very model of a Princess of Equestria." She's apparently been working on it for a while, and is looking for an excuse to do a Bohemian Parody at some point too.
- In Origin Story, at one point Alex sings the first line of a Major General Song she heard in a YouTube video: "I am the very model of a busty superheroine..." It irritates her because, first, she can't get the tune out of her head, and second, the video, and thus the song, is about Alex herself.
- TORN has one about Gandalf here.
- One episode of Babylon 5 has Marcus and Franklin taking a long journey to Mars in the cargo hold of a freighter. After Franklin gets tired of playing Something That Begins with "Boring" (it doesn't take long), Marcus starts singing The Major General Song to pass the time. At the end of the episode, he sings the entire song over the credits in place of the normal music. Near the end of the song, you can hear the crew trying to make him stop. No, not the freighter's crew, the production crew.
- In the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip episode "The Cold Open", the cast performs a sketch including a parody of the song: "We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show."
- David Hyde Pierce's monologue, as host of Saturday Night Live, was a parody of the song.
- In the Frasier episode "Fathers and Sons", Frasier, Niles and Leland Barton sing the first verse of the song. Martin tries to join in but confuses the lyrics, singing "awful facts about the scary hippopotamus" (instead of "cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse").
- In the Mad About You episode "Moody Blues," Paul directs a charity production of Penzance starring his father, Burt, as the Major-General. Parts of rehearsal and performance of the song are shown. When the lyrics slip Burt's mind, he improvises a few lines about his son. During The Tag, Paul and Jamie sing a verse about the show's credit roster ("Now the show is over and you can watch the credits roll").
- Doctor Cox's "Rant Song" from the Scrubs musical episode was based on the Major General's Song according to the creators.
- Used for Russian spies' elocution lessons in the Britcom Sleepers.
- Geordi La Forge sings a few lines of it for Dr. Crusher when she's trying to persuade him to audition for her on-board production.
- In a more memorable scene from Home Improvement, Al sings the first verse of it in what he thinks is a soundproof booth. It isn't, and as a result, he receives a round of applause when he comes out.
- In Diagnosis: Murder, Norman Briggs tried out for the role of the Major General, and Dr. Sloan helped him rehearse the Major General song. Briggs ended up playing one of the police officers. Third police officer.
- The Israeli Channel 10 has suffered for years (since 2008) of financial difficulties that put it under risk of shutting down, which was further exacerbated by their open feud against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as they investigated and reported many of his alleged cases of corruption: Netanyahu went on the offence against the channel, bashing it and threatening to sue for slander and trying to block any government effort to relieve the channel of its debts, and using his own connections in the Ministry of Communications and in the channel itself. When the channel decided to comply and let go of their staunch opposition, they finally got some relief. In response, Israeli satire show Matzàv haUmá featured a song set to this tunenote , starring the main panelists and involving the whole cast and crew as well, saying they got the message and refrain from criticising him. (Eventually the show did have its contract end, supposedly for financial reasons, though critics have suspected foul play; it was later continued, amusingly enough, on Channel 10.)
We'll be good to Bibi, or we'll live with a sword on our neck:
Censorship is unpleasant; it's also unpleasant to see a channel close down.
- In Quiz2020, the miniseries based on the UK's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? "coughing major" scandal, one of the early scenes shows Major Charles Ingram arriving for his first day in a new army desk job, where he tells his new superior officer that he's done a bit of amateur dramatics, at which point the superior starts singing the song, expecting Ingram to join in — which he does with great embarrasment. It then turns into an Overly Long Gag as the superior officer launches into a second verse, and a third...
- The Big Bang Theory has a drunken Sheldon sing one about the periodic table of elements during a presentation in "The Pants Alternative."
- In the second episode of Ghosts, the World War II Captain counters Alison's Ignoring by Singing by singing "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General."
- The Gillies Report: In "Maralinga, Or Wise After the Event", the ghost of Sir Robert Menzies is summoned to appear before the Royal Commission and sings "I Was the Very Model of a Commonwealth Prime Minister":
I was the very model of a Commonwealth prime minister
I never had a single thought original or sinister
I echoed the opinions of the British with impunity
And made myself their vassal at the slightest opportunity
- Wolf 359:
- In 'Box 953', Lieutenant Commander Minkowski gets completely smashed off of a bad tranquilizer Hilbert gave her and drunkenly recites the entire song.
- The Muppet Show:
- The Muppets stages a duet of the song with guest star and comedienne Gilda Radner and a seven-foot tall talking carrot. The scene bears an ironic resemblance to another scene in Pirates, as Radner had requested a six-foot tall talking parrot, but was misheard.
- In the Award Show episode, Scooter employs the tune to list all of the guest stars that had been on the show.
- The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's skit recapping Doctor Who Series 6 ends with a song recapping the season finale to the tune of the Major General's song.
- Mass Effect:
- In Mass Effect 2, your motor-mouthed salarian Mad Scientist, bioweapons specialist and all-round genius Dr. Mordin Solus apparently at one point was the designated patter singer in a multi-species production of The Pirates of Penzance. If prompted, he will sing a re-working of the song called I Am The Very Model of a Scientist Salarian.
- If you got him to sing it in the second game, the song appears again in Mass Effect 3 as a Dark Reprise — Mordin sings it just before he dies.
- Colonel Jade Curtiss in this YouTube video.
- In Freeman's Mind episode 45, Gordon Freeman sings a good portion of the song while in a firefight, berates his enemies for not singing the chorus ("WHERE'S MY CHORUS?!"), then decides that the song's too dated anyways and begins making up his own verses that pertain to his current situation.
I can fire at a target and hit it at least half the time
or graph out an electron path while using only numbers prime
I calculate the fall rate of a bullet shot a thousand yards
I perforate the thick heads of a hundred military guards.
I can make a simulation of an atom bomb and build one too
Or flank a dozen men and ambush ten of them right out of the blue
From SMGs to RPGs, I carry quite an arsenal
And skip around a war zone like a sub-atomic particle.
STILL NO CHORUS! Okay, come on, sing and I won't kill you! Those of you that are left, I mean...
Every soldier out here wants to kill me for my curiosity
I wage war on the whole damn world because of my tenacity
In matters combat tactical and physics theoretical
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
- In The Simpsons a sober Barney is able to do backflips while singing this.
- The Animaniacs has "I am the Very Model of a Cartoon Individual". (And the three siblings repeat the last line of it in their shot at the end credits of the episode.)
- ReBoot ended its third season with a recap of the entire season, set to the song's tune.
- In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain sings a typically megalomaniacal parody of the song.
- In The Wild Thornberrys episode "Sir Nigel," Nigel Thornberry sings a pastiche of the song about his family.
- In a VeggieTales episode entitled "The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment!", Archibald Asparagus sings the first two verses of this song when asked to sing about "Military Intelligence".
- In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, our heroes apparently crash a Penzance performance, as pigs sing some of the first lyrics.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "One Good Turn," after Agent P leaves, Major Monogram sings, "I am the very model of a modern Major Monogram / I've information vegetable and animal and hologram."
- In the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "The Evil League of Mutants", Baron Draxum's minions Muninn and Huginn start one of these detailing Draxum's role in the turtles' mutation, and then Draxum takes over the song and starts to sing about how he intends to unite the mutant villains of the show's cast to defeat the turtles once and for all.
- A Fan-made Sorting Hat song lyrics.
- "I am the Very Model of a disgruntled Harmonian".
- A rant about the Doctor's policy regarding changing time.
- With apologies to Neil Gaiman, a version for Vastra from Doctor Who:
''I am the very model of a monster-hunter general
Whether threats are mundane or ethereal or temporal
Thanks to the aid of my maid I have slayed them with a katana
And made a vow until I have repaid the debt on my honour
I'm happy in my scaly skin, and have a tongue that's prehensile
Though my tastes in sex and sustenance are difficult to reconcile
For my bedmate and my breakfast are both sentient mammalians
(Incidentally, while I'm lizardlike, I'm technically not alien)
I've been told that I should walk the boards and play a Shakespeare vill-i-an
But Dickens' London is not ready for an actress so reptilian
It's a shame because the name that I would gain would be the best I can
Victorian, Silurian, lesbian, and thespian!
- Discworld's Rincewind is the very model of a coward fleeing gainfully.
- Friendship Is Optimal: The Law Offices of Artemis, Stella & Beat: Vibrant is the very model of a modern magic unicorn.
- The fanmade play HMS Dumbledore has Draco Malfoy sing "I am the very model of a future evil overlord".
- Modern Major Rarity.
- The Filk Song "I am the Very Model of a Heroine Barbarian", said to be "from Gilbert and Sullivan's little-known operetta, Xena; or, the Warrior Princess."
- Tom Lehrer's "The Elements", from An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, is described by the author as "the names of the chemical elements set to a possibly recognizable tune," which The Big Bang Theory would in time require a drunken Sheldon to sing.
- "I Am the Very Model of a Usenet Personality".
- "I Built a Better Model Than the One at Data General".
- "I Am the Very Model of a Genius Computational".
- "I am the Very Model of a Singularitarian"
- "I Am the Very Model of the Modern Sadomasochist".
- The Capitol Steps did a parody of this referring to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, "I am the Very Model of a Mad Attorney General". Recently (in 2010), a slightly altered version of this made the rounds in Virginia referring to State Attorney General Ken Cucchinelli.
- Earlier, they did one about George W. Bush ending with the line "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major Genital."
- And now they've done one about General David Petraeus.
- Back in 2004 they had one about Wesley Clark (who was running for President at the time) called "I am the Very Model of a Modern NATO General."
- "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Music Syllabus"
- Steve Goodie's "The Big Bang Theory Song" is about The Big Bang Theory.
- Traditionally, the conductor on the last night of The BBC Proms gives a speech about the highlights of that year's concerts, thanking the performers and generally giving all involved a metaphorical pat on the back. In 1992, several concerts had featured the work of Arthur Sullivan to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, and conductor Andrew Davies, being quite the showman, gave his speech in the form of a parody of the Major-General's song.
- Heading out into even more arcane fields - I Am The Very Model Of A Biblical Philologist.
- The Guardian's environmental page used to have a regular song parody. One of them did the Major-General Song:
In short, in matters green or with a pan-environmental twist,
I am the very model of a modern eco-activist.
- "Please Hello" from Pacific Overtures has the British Captain's part as a parody (all the captains sing in their national "hats").
"Hello, I come with letters from Her Majesty, Victoria,"
"Who, hearing how you're trading now, sang Hallelujah, Gloria,"
"And sent me to convey to you her positive euphoria"
"As well as little gifts from Britain's various emporia."
- Dirty Little Showtunes has "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Homosexual".
- The biggest irony about parodies of the original song from The Pirates of Penzance is that most speakers who perform parodies really are experts in whatever fields they sing about, unlike the character singing the original, a blowhard who truly knows very little about them.
- Right Hand Man from Theatre/Hamilton has George Washington introducing himself with some hip-hop as the Model of a Modern Major General, The Venerated Virginian Veteran...with a little bit of alliteration, which is a nod to The Pirates of Penzance.
- Overly Sarcastic Productions produced one for their 5K-subscriber video. Aptly titled the philosopher's song.
Red: I've read the works of countless ancient grumpy dudes who thought too much.
Their books as long and laborious as finals week's untimely clutch.
They all complain of human nature, sovereignty and social class
and speak with a precision gained by talking strickly out their ass.
- Darths & Droids has a version here.
- 21st Century Fox has this as part of a whole miniseries of Gilbert and Sullivan spoofs.
- xkcd gives us Every Major's Terrible, "which you may know from Tom Lehrer's "Elements", lampooning the stereotypes and downfalls of assorted academic fields. There are multiple renditions on YouTube by fans.
- Phoebe and Her Unicorn has Marigold bragging about her Modern Magic Unicorn self, naturally.
- Wikipedia, in a break with their usual sombreness, has two songs which use the tune (among many others).
- Not one, but two Neopagan versions.
- And, of course, TV Tropes has this very article, as well as the self-demonstrating section of the Patter Song article.
- Uncyclopedia has the Uncyclopedian's Song.
- The SCP Foundation have a Modern Major Keter-Class.