Low-Class Bongos

This isn’t really a CIDU. Given this comic’s schtick, I assume the joke is that he’s attacking Loretta because she’s taken something classy (classical music), and made it dumb and low class by playing it on the bongos. But as I commented to SingaporeBill when he sent this in, it just seems like a really strange and difficult-to-understand attack, because playing on the bongos and making it sound like “Flight of the Bumblebee” would actually be pretty impressive. And then he sent this in:


  1. I don’t think “class” has anything to do with it. Impressive or not, he is exasperated because the incessant drumming is driving him crazy.

  2. But bongos are relatively quiet as drums go, and no louder or more annoying than learning to play the piece on any other instrument would have been. So there must be something more to it.

    The video is interesting but I’m far more impressed by Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin’s duet than some guy adding unnecessary bongos to the effort.

  3. Yes, quite a collaboration! But that’s part of the Yo-Yo Ma mystique — he’s great about making connections with people and genres and national traditions across all sorts of boundaries. Probably most famous is the Silk Road Ensemble project https://www.silkroad.org/artists-yo-yo-ma .

    And here in Chicago he has been very involved in neighborhood outreach projects (of the Civic Orchestra, a part of the CSO organization). Some friends and I went to a musical event at Saint Sabina (this was a while before Father Pfleger got into trouble) — Y-Y M was there as an honored founder/organizer and mostly spoke but did join in playing a bit. But it was mostly a showcase for the variety of groups. The main classical selection was a movement from the American Quartet of Dvorak. But our group also enjoyed the R&B, the Gospel, the Hip Hop, and the spinoffs of the church choir.

    I’ll halfway agree with Powers, that the bongo player isn’t really playing Flight of the Bumblebee, he’s accompanying the performance of the piece on cello and, um, voice… But I don’t think the bongos detract in any way — it’s a fun performance. Bear in mind that it’s kind of a novelty piece from the get-go, not really part of the prestige business.

  4. @billytheskink I thought Desi Arnaz more usually played the congas than bongos?

  5. THis is an example of shtick for the sake of shtick going nowhere. Playing flight of the bumblebee on the bongos is supposed to be incongruously wrong akin to making fondue with herring and peanut butter (which she does because she’s a bad cook). But it gets to why would Loretta attempt to play flight of the bumblebee on the bongos (or put herring and peanut butter in the fondue)? Even a person with absolutely zero talent would know that that’s not how you make fondue or play flight of the bumblebee. Instead this, if you think about it, is just that Lorretta having bizarre and eclectic taste. Which…. sure it can be annoying to be married to a nutjob when you are a straight arrow (ha!) but not a fair judgement to judge a weirdo as a bad person just because she has unusual taste.

  6. I do like the guy’s side-eye glare at Leroy. “Listen, fool, any more jibber-jabber out of you and I’m gonna be playing bongos on your head.”

  7. The initial reason I sent this in as a CIDU was because I was confused about the Black man looking so normal and human. I was wondering if we were supposed to recognize him, if it is a real-life reference. I asked because Leroy looks like a freak. And the woman(?) sitting behind them doesn’t look that normal. But the I read some other panels in the series and saw everyone but the Lockhorns looks normal-ish. I guess their hate has mutated their form.

  8. The clip is, as was said, bongos accompanying Yo-Yo Ma’s amazing cello. I doubt that bongos alone could make me hear F of the B.

  9. Leroy’s companion does seem more normal-looking – except that he, like Leroy, appears to have only the cartoon-and-comics-canonical 3 fingers on each hand.

  10. @Danny Boy
    I believe you are right, but my point of reference for the show usually begins with Weird Al Yankovic’s “Ricky”, where Al notes Ricky’s bongos (perhaps they couldn’t acquire congas for the music video, because the word doesn’t flow in the tune any worse than bongos does).

  11. “he’s attacking Loretta because she’s taken something classy (classical music), and made it dumb and low class by playing it on the bongos”

    I don’t think it’s low-brow vs. high-brow but just general competent/right vs. incompetent/wrong. But as I said above playing FotBb on bongos isn’t really incompetent; it’s just …off…. and off isn’t really bad or wrong… just strange. Strange or not, it’d be damned impressive. This one panel leaves me with the impression that poor Loretta is a creative (albeit not necessarily talented) soul being crushed be and insensitive and unsupporting helpmate.

    And…. why didn’t Ricky ever let Lucy perform in the Club? She really really wanted to. So what if you think she isn’t very good. That’s for the audience to decide and if she really isn’t good isn’t that the bit of heart-breaking news (a lifelong dream crushed and realized will never be) that should be addressed with sympathy and compassion? And she wasn’t that incompetent. And we aren’t talking platinum record deals here. We’re talking a night at a club. I’ve seen plenty of acts where one person was good and the other … so-so … but clearly a significant companion of the other. No-one ever walked out in anger or refused to come.

  12. That Yo-Yo Ma sure gets around. I love it.
    Mostly up and down, but sometimes around the world.

    Yeah, I saw him in the neighborhood today – walkin’ the dog.

  13. Thanks for that clip, MiB!
    Very strange to see a singing-dancing performer chewing gum during the act. I guess that was meant to be part of the character she’s playing. (The character Lucy Ricardo is playing, the street girl)

  14. Back in the day, all the music at the Blues hockey games was produced by the organist (these days lots of recorded clips as well). Flight of the Bumblebees was one he’d launch into occasionally. My buddy referred to his attempts as “Flight of the Fumblbees”. He has a more extensive musical background than I do.

  15. Brian: When the Blackhawks played in the old Chicago Stadium, pipes of their fantastic organ were part of the building. When they moved across the street to the “United Center,” they “sampled” just about ever aspect of the organ, then incorporated that into the new place’s electronic organ. Apparently. they did a great job of it, because it sounded just as good to my ears. And I think that “Flight of the Fumblbees” is a hilarious line.

  16. “Yeah, I saw him in the neighborhood today – walkin’ the dog.”

    I only just got this comment; Dana K, I (now) see what you did there…

  17. It’s one of those classical pieces with an usual but reasonably familiar title, a title which provides some opportunity for humor.

  18. Also there aren’t that many pieces that sound hard, are hard, and have names that non-musicians can easily remember (which, note, applies to the audience as much or more than the cartoonist…)

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