Various Artists

Comedy Tonight: Stephen Sondheim's Funniest Songs

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Among the talents that make Stephen Sondheim a revered figure in musical theater is his remarkable wit. His songs are full of tongue-twisting rhymes that are not only funny upon first hearing, but also can provide further chuckles upon subsequent listenings. Which of Sondheim's songs are funniest is, of course, a matter of personal judgment, but the selections on this collection are conditioned as well by limits of the RCA Victor vaults. RCA is the repository for many original Broadway cast albums of Sondheim's shows, especially the later ones, as well as albums of anthology shows and tributes such as Cleo Laine's Cleo Sings Sondheim. So, the label is better-positioned to create a compilation like this than any other would be. Yet, there are omissions any Sondheim fan would note. Can it really be that "There's Something About a War," "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," "Could I Leave You," and "Bobby and Jackie and Jack" (the last two certainly available to the compilers) are not among his funniest songs? On the other hand, are "Chrysanthemum Tea" and "It's Hot up Here" funny at all? The first details a murder, the second is a list of complaints from the figures in a painting. Both are highly inventive songs, but they don't really contain any laughs. Still, some of Sondheim's funniest lyrics are on the disc, starting with "Comedy Tonight" and including the pair of songs from Sweeney Todd, "The Worst Pies in London" and "A Little Priest," as well as the bawdy "I Never Do Anything Twice" and the suggestive "Can That Boy Foxtrot!" And the performers -- among them Madeline Kahn, Angela Lansbury, and Bernadette Peters -- make the most of the material. If this is the listener's first exposure to Sondheim's wit, there is more where it came from.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, musical
1 6:32
Sweeney Todd, musical play
2 2:28
Company, musical
3 2:55
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, musical
4 3:09
Into the Woods, musical play
5 2:29
Company, musical
6 4:12
7 5:59 Spotify
Follies, musical play
8 2:52
Pacific Overtures, musical play
9 7:18
A Little Night Music, musical
10 3:45
Sunday in the Park with George, musical play
11 4:31
The Mad Show, musical play
12 2:44
Sweeney Todd, musical play
13 7:19
Into the Woods, musical play
14 2:19
Follies, musical play
15 2:39
Gypsy, musical
16 4:26
blue highlight denotes track pick