Studio 60 and Pirates of Penzance

Studio 60 had a musical sketch featuring the music from the the Major General’s song from the Pirates of Penzance. It is a popular format for comedy, parody and education. Here are some examples:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand – Flash Animation – The Elements, by Tom Lehrer

The Buff Barbarian Song

How about a cartoon character:I am the Very Model of a Cartoon Individual
Sung to I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General
from The Pirates of Penzance


I am the very model of a cartoon individual

My animation’s comical, unusual and whimsical

I’m quite adept at funny gags; comedic theory I have read

From wicked puns and stupid jokes to anvils that drop on your head.

I’m very good at fancy dances; I can even pirouette

Then smack the villain with a fish; I know my cartoon etiquette

I can make my face all mean and really give you quite a fright

Then make up with flowers made of real exploding dynamite.

When in a jam I just yell “stop” and villains in their tracks are froze

Then I sneak up and utter “start” and take my hands and honk their nose

I am quite proud to be in such a hierarchial progeny

From Daffy Duck and Tweety Bird to Babs and Buster Bunny.

To suit my mood I can call forth a lot of different sceneries

Like outer space and desert scapes and Himalayan eateries

From this bag here why I can pull most anything imaginable

Like office desks and lava lights and Bert who is a cannibal.


You see, in matters comical, unusual, and whimsical

We are the very model of cartoon individuals!

Then there’s David Hyde Pierce’s Monologue on SNL:

Oh, Kelsey is our show’s big star, I’m number two, that’s only fair
‘Cause he deserves it, even though I’m young and thin and have more hair.”[ four soldiers from the general’s army return to repeat the last two lines in song ]

Soldiers: [ singing ]
“Kelsey is the show’s big star, he’s number two, that’s only fair
‘Cause he deserves it, even though he’s young and thin and has more hair.”

While I have not found the transcript of Studio 60’s version of the Major General’s song from Pirates of Penzance, here is the movie version starring Kevin Cline:

Studio 60 NBC Major General’s song Pirates of Penzance Mover Mike


One Response to “Studio 60 and Pirates of Penzance”

  1. The amusing thing to me was this is not the first time Sorkin has used it. Once upon a time on West Wing, there was an episode-long debate in the White House with the Attorney General, as played by John Larroquette, as to whether the song was from Penzance or Pinafore.

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