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Humor & The Comedian Harmonists

In a world shadowed by the rise of fascism, The Comedian Harmonists found a powerful weapon: laughter. The Comedian Harmonists, a sextet of diverse talents and wit, used humor to navigate the turbulent waters of their time, offering audiences an escape and themselves a platform for resistance.

Here are some key ways they used humor in their performances :

1. Musical Parodies: Their signature close-harmony vocals became a canvas for parody. They’d take popular operatic pieces and inject them with satirical lyrics, turning grand pronouncements into hilarious jabs at the establishment. 

2. Wordplay and Double Entendres: Their lyrics were full of clever puns and double entendres, often escaping the censors’ grasp due to their ambiguity. They’d sing about “falling in love with a lamppost” (a metaphor for being attracted to someone unattainable), or jokingly lament the “lack of butter on the table” (a veiled reference to the economic hardships under Nazi rule).

3. Visual Comedy: Their stage presence was a whirlwind of synchronized movements, slapstick routines, and playful expressions. They’d mime everyday activities with hilariously exaggerated gestures, or turn a simple song about a donkey into a side-splitting pantomime.

4. Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Comedian Harmonists weren’t afraid to engage directly with the audience. They’d throw in impromptu jokes, playfully banter with each other, and even incorporate audience reactions into their performance. This created a sense of camaraderie, making the audience feel like part of the joke and subtly undermining the power dynamics of the time.

WATCH: The Comedian Harmonists in action.

The Musical about The Comedian Harmonists

Harmony, a new musical about The Comedian Harmonists, is now on Broadway.

The complete Broadway cast includes Chip Zien as Rabbi, Sierra Boggess as Mary, Julie Benko as Ruth, Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, and Steven Telsey as the Comedian Harmonists, Allison Semmes as Josephine Baker, Andrew O’Shanick as Standartenfϋhrer, Zak Edwards, Dan Hoy, Bruce Landry, Rhonni Rose Mantilla, Daniel Z. Miller, Benjamin H. Moore, Matthew Mucha, Constantine Pappas, Kayleen Seidl, Kyla Stone, Bronwyn Tarboton, Kate Wesler, Stuart Zagnit, and Lee Zarrett. 

To learn more about Harmony: A New Musical, click here.

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