The World of Musical Satire 

UCLA Extension course evaluations…

“Fascinating, unique and delightful;
I never considered satire the way Mr. Misch presents it.”

“A wonderful, wide-ranging selection of material. I loved the course!”

“Fantastic. I learned so much and had such a good time.”

“One of the best courses I have ever taken.”

(more evals)

        Satire is one of the oldest forms of humor, a way to set boundaries of behavior as well as chide malefactors without violence. Adding music only seems to make it more powerful; in early Germanic and Celtic societies, people would break out in boils and even commit suicide if attacked in song.

        Explore the world of musical satire in a variety of genres, cultures and eras, especially America since 1950. We’ll cover Horace and Juvenal, opera (the first surviving comic opera was written by a pope – Clement IX, if you’re keeping score), “Yankee Doodle”, slave satire, Gilbert & Sullivan, the Gersh-
wins, the Beatles, Randy Newman, Monty Python, Spinal Tap, “Saturday Night Live”, “Avenue Q”, “Spamalot”, “South Park” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

        Best of all, we’ll look at the Crown King of caustic cultural commentary, Tom Lehrer, who once said “If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worthwhile.”

      No background in music necessary; in fact, because satire is often depen- dent on social and historical events, this course is as much cultural history as musicology. And while words are preeminent in musical satire, we’ll also dis- cuss the music and its interactions with lyrics. But please – no students who are prone to boils.

This course was given as an undergraduate seminar at UCLA’s Herb
Alpert School of Music
, where
 one of the guests was “Weird Al” Yankovic.

David also gives the single lecture, “The 15 Greatest Satirical Songs”.


Excerpts from “The World of Musical Satire”

U.C. San Diego

Sail Away (2:30)
Sail Away

A (brief) deep-dive into Randy Newman’s song.

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History of Satire (2:29)
History of Satire

How satire began.

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Brown Eyed Handsome (4:02)
Brown Eyed Handsome Man

The secret satire hidden in Chuck Berry’s hit.

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Mr. Ed (1:57)
Mr. Ed

Misch does Dylan does Ed.

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MTA (3:39)

The unexpected history of America’s most famous satirical song.

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David Misch has been writing and producing comedy for more than 40 years. Among his credits are “Mork & Mindy”, the Emmy-nominated adult animated series “Duckman”, “Saturday Night Live”, “The Muppets Take Manhattan”, and a wide variety of projects for film and television.  He is also an author, play- wright, songwriter, blogger, and recovered stand-up comic.

He has taught or lectured at Oxford University, the Smithsonian Institute, Uni- versity of Sydney (Australia), Yale University; Columbia University, the Actors Studio (New York); University of Southern California, the Grammy Museum, Austin Film Festival, UCLA, American Film Institute (Los Angeles); Tufts Uni- versity, Pomona College, the Midwest Popular Culture Association, and the SATE Themed Entertainment and VIEW Cinema (Torino, Italy) conferences.



“David is a marvelous instructor –
knowledgeable, articulate, funny and insightful.”

“Mr. Misch couldn’t be more open, interesting
and amusing.  I would take this course again.”

“Better than I had imagined.
Very well-organized; an exceptional presentation.”

“Fascinating on every level.”

“Keep offering this class until every Extension member has taken it!”

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