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Song Parodies -> "Superpugilistic Stars Bert Chimney-Sweep and Mary"

Original Song Title:


Original Performer:

Mary Poppins soundtrack

Parody Song Title:

"Superpugilistic Stars Bert Chimney-Sweep and Mary"

Parody Written by:


The Lyrics

For me, this is number three of the Big Seven (not counting an extra 'American Pie' smoosh). There are more than a hundred parodies of this OS on the site, some of them brilliant and most of them good, so what to do for a theme? And who needs yet another parody of this anyway?

Well, I don't think any of them spoof the actual movie it came from. Mary Poppins (1964), based on the books by P. L. Travers, won five Oscars of thirteen nominations, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Best Song (Chim Chim Cheree), from an outstanding score by Richard and Robert Sherman. It was Julie's first lead movie role, a year before 'The Sound of Music', having been controversially passed over for 'My Fair Lady' in favor of non-singing Audrey Hepburn, despite having made the role of Covent-Garden flowerseller Eliza famous (not to mention herself) on Broadway for several years.

I've imagined a fictional feud between the leads, Dick Van Dyke and Julie, though I'm sure that in real life their relationship was quite professional and cordial. Dick's dreadful Cockney accent isn't imagined though; it's real, notoriously so. For the dialect-challenged, especially those living on the wrong side of the Atlantic, I've included a glossary, but Brits should have no trouble with it. My knowledge of the dialect is taken from the mass media so is probably a bit cliched, but my native Australian is its closest linguistic relative, which helps to give me a feel for it. (UK readers corrections and feedback welcome)

Dick Van Dyke played Cockney sweep; he was so bleedin' gauche-ous
Don't you know the sound of it was sumfink qui' atrocious?
Patrons laughed quite loud from Wellington's to Nova Scotia's
Mary Tyler Moore chewed 'is old ear'ole out ferocious

Um diddle Stanley, um 'Olloway
Doolittle Alfred, E-Li-zay

I know it wasn't Rob Petrie but needed part so bad
Michael Caine's footwork was weak and mine was total rad
I chatted up a dollybird wot saved me accent woes
All the lads up Elephant, round Castle sez she 'goes'!

Leave i' ou', you Dickless Dyke, yer daft, me ol' sunshine-ous
Get your daisy roots back on, my son, an' 'ere on time-ous
Schedule is pear-shaped, I wannit sorted, there's no uvver
Tweak yer twinkle-toes yer twat and Bob's yer muvver's bruvver
Um diddle Stanley, um 'Olloway
Doolittle Alfred, E-liz-ay

Movie travelled round the world
And everywhere it went:
'Put a finger in that Dyke,
Yours Truly's heaven-sent!'

Yeah? LBJ and Lady Bird
It's me they wanna see!
That's because they wouldn't know
A Cockney from cat's pee

Superpugilistic stars, their egos are emotious
Sick and tired, the sound of it, it's really anti-socious
Fly a kite and feed the birds, two pence a bag she quotes us
Super spoonful sugar, in their bellies need a dose-shous
Chim-chim-chimmeny, chim-chim cher-ee
Cricket Jimminy, gor' bugger me

Broadway stardom, Grammies
Tonys, five-octave dismay
For cardboard TV geezer
You 'ave sure got 'eaps to say
Give me ''Ow's yer farver' now
Or shu'it', norf an' souf
So she's 'ample'?
Pipes need blasting, then,
Future trouble-and-strife?

They're superpugilistic stars - vain, testy and precocious
They fancy this, they fancy that, their manners are atrocious
Even Disney penguin giving hints contract-negotious
Superpugilistic stars, jump in Atlantic Oceous!
* Mary Tyler Moore played wife Laura in the highly successful 60s sitcom 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' - he was Rob Petrie
* 'Elephant and Castle' is a generic name for a pub, no doubt originating from the days of Empire. Abrasive Cockney stand-up comedian Jim Davidson once had a TV show called 'Up the Elephant and Round the Castle'
* Stanley Holloway played Eliza's Cockney layabout father Alfred Doolittle on stage opposite Julie's Eliza in 'My Fair Lady'. and later on screen opposite Audrey Hepburn. Footage is available on YouTube of Julie's legendary Broadway performance in that role, well worth checking out for JA fans. She was born to play Eliza, imo, and should have been in the movie.
* Up-and-coming Cockney actor Michael Caine was then unknown in Hollywood, nor would he have wanted to audition or been considered.
* Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson (nickname of Claudia Alta (nee) Taylor) were US president and first lady respectively when the movie was released (1964)

* Leave i' ou' (Leave it out) = knock it off
* 'Daisy roots' = boots, as in skiffle king Lonnie Donegan's 'My Old Man's a Dustman':
'My old man's a dustman, 'e wears a dustman's 'at
'E wears "gor' blimey" trousers an' 'e lives in a council flat
'E looks a proper nana in 'is great big 'obnail boots
'E's got such a job to pull 'em up, 'e calls 'em "daisy roots" '
* 'Pear-shaped' = out of control, as in body shape after a failed diet; 'Sorted' = problem solved
* 'Ow's yer farver' (How's your father), (see 'hide the sausage') = hanky-panky, as in abruptly changing the subject
* 'Shu' i' ' = Please refrain from speaking; 'norf an' souf' = mouth * 'Pipes need blasting' = Non-orgastic neurotic female unwittingly in need of vigorous sexual therapy; 'trouble and strife = wife ('Yer corn't do wiv 'em and yer corn't do wivou' em'!)
* 'Hide the sausage' = a popular method of blasting the pipes

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Pacing: 4.0
How Funny: 4.0
Overall Rating: 4.0

Total Votes: 4

Voting Breakdown

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
 1   1
 2   0
 3   0
 4   0
 5   3

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Old Man Ribber - January 11, 2013 - Report this comment
'oly 'ell, gunvor! It's all here! Van Dyke's rediculous attempt at a Cockney accent...Hollywood's snubbing of Julie Andrews...tons of references to the movie and current events of the time...and all set to the break-neck rapid fire patter of the original song. I wish I could score this a 50 rather than 15! Here's a few additional nuggets you might not know. Some Hollywood bigwigs proposed that James Cagney (an accomplishes song and dance man as well as an iconic gangster actor) be given the Alfred Doolittle role rather than Holloway. Audrey Hepburn wanted to do her own singing but instead was dubbed by Marnie Nixon, who also sang for Deborah Kerr in The King And I and Natalie Wood in West Side Story. Rex Harrison, who had never been a singer, literally had to be threatened with a lawsuit when he had second thoughts about going on stage for My Fair Lady's Broadway opening night. ;D
Dave W. - January 11, 2013 - Report this comment
I laughed meself up to the ceiling again and that don't happen too often...
Wendy Christopher - January 11, 2013 - Report this comment
Lifeliver, anyone else who attempts this parody now is going to have an uphill struggle to live up to this one in terms of quality! I loved all the cockernee references, and the wonderful new words that made excellent ryhming subs (e.g. emotious/anti-socious.) And of course the pacing was spot-on too. 555 just isn't enough.

And, to add to the Mary Poppins trivia... the woman who wrote the original Mary Poppins novel HATED the Disney version, claiming that she actually cried when she saw it, so horrified at the way they'd sanitised and schmaltzified it. Her original story was much darker; among other things, Mary Poppins was more like a Nanny McPhee-type character, and the children's father was much colder and crueller. There was eventually a new stage musical made that was closer to her original tale, but it didn't do nearly as well... presumably because the public, having become more familiar with the Disney version, just didn't want the 'grittier' one.
Jonathan - January 11, 2013 - Report this comment
this parody was... how can i describe it? supercalif... you get it 5's
Lifeliver - January 13, 2013 - Report this comment
Thanks Ribber, Dave, Wendy, Jonathan. Where are my other 'usual suspects'? Guess the board's a bit slow right now.

@ OMR: high praise indeed and thanks for the background. I knew all about Marnie Nixon but not the James Cagney and Rex Harrison snippets. I saw Cagney in 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' (The George M. Cohan Story) many years ago and remember being very surprised and impressed at his 'hoofmanship'. Speaking of which, to be fair to Van Dyke, his work in that department was first-rate and always was - and so was Julie's!
Rex Harrison was of course in the original movie version of 'Pygmalion' opposite the great Wendy Hiller. He was George Bernard Shaw's favorite 'Shavian' actor and therefore the obvious first call for Henry Higgins. But he was no musical star and I could imagine him being jittery on his first night. Of course he never looked back and is still the definitive Henry.
About Marnie Nixon's dubbing: Deborah Kerr was grateful; Audrey was disappointed but resigned to it; Natalie Wood, however, was furious. She had recorded the soundtrack and wasn't told about the dubbing till the last minute. There was a bitter feud with the producers over it. I've heard some of her singing on 'West Side Story' and it was pretty good. But they wanted a trained soprano on the record, and Marnie did a great job, no question.

@ Dave W: an apt reference to 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks', am I right?

@ Wendy: A comment from you usually makes my day and no exception here. Actually, there are some amazingly good parodies of this, but who has time to read them all? Still, I think this one will become one of my personal favorites among my own efforts. It felt good right from the start. As a writer yourself, I'm sure know that feeling, when you know you're on a winner.
I didn't know much about the books, except that the original was set in the 30s, not the Edwardian era, so your extra info was very interesting for me. I had to look up Nanny McPhee. I missed that one, sounds like great fare for kids and family viewing, and I adore Emma Thompson. I wish I'd been at Cambridge with her and Fry & Laurie, though they probably would have ignored me.
Dave W - January 13, 2013 - Report this comment
The thought came from Mary Poppins...When they sang - I love to laugh...I'll have to revisit Bedknobs and Broomsticks soon and check out what you mean....Did you know that I gave my shot at Supercal in 2011.....I have a mere 13 parodies here, under Dave W. that is....2 under David Werwinski by the Angels and one by Hank Snow..and then there is one under Dav W. (spelling error) by the Boxtops...........I will see if I can bunch them together later if I can
Lifeliver - January 13, 2013 - Report this comment
Sorry Dave, my mistake. I was referring to the scene with Bert's uncle where they float up to the ceiling. It's in MP, not Bedknobs. It's quite a while since I've seen either movie.

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