What makes a great parody?


Many people come up to me and tell me what a sick and demented individual I am, which is truly flattering. I figure that if I can stir up emotions in people then I've succeeded in differentiating that person from lower forms of life. For it is only our emotions that separate us from all other creatures on this god forsaken planet.

There are many, many people out there who portend to write great parodies. Some of them have become famous, yet most others muddle through life happy and content just to spread a little joy. But for the most part, there are untold numbers of truly bad parodies, written without any consideration for the art of the spoof. Too often words are merely thrown together in a haphazard way in a futile attempt at some sophomoric humor. Sure, some people laugh. But the laughter is as shallow as the talent needed to produce these sub-standard diddies.

To be a truly great parody, or what I like to call an Ultimate Parody, there are at least three rules which must be followed. First and foremost, the number of beats per line in the original song must be adhered to. If the beat is not followed precisely, then some of the quality is lost. This is probably the easiest of the rules, but you'll find that many lyrics are crammed into a song without consideration for the original material.

Second, the song's rhyming scheme must be as close to 100% of the original song as possible. If the first line ends in the word "thriller", then the contrasting parody line should (or should I say must) rhyme with that word, as in "Miller".. This is very difficult to achieve, but when it is done the parody becomes a near-seamless extension of the original. If possible, it is ideal to use the same rhyming words from the original, but this step is so hard to achieve that if I compose a song with 75% of the rhyming words of the original song I consider it a smashing success. I have yet to write a song where all the rhyme words are identical.

Third, the topic being satired must choose an appropriate song to parody. As an example, the song "Return To Sender" was parodied as "Did I Dismember". This song was chosen because the topic of the parody was a lunatic postal worker who hacked up his victims. The original song was about a postal worker returning a letter, so the fit was perfect. Again, this cannot always work, but for an Ultimate Parody it will. Another close match is the song "Nothing On My Mind" since it is a country song and the topic is the newly-elected George W. Bush, who prides himself as a good 'ole boy from Texas who struts around in cowboy wear.

These are only three of the criteria that make up an Ultimate Parody. Granted, there are many out there that do not meet these stringent rules but are still hilarious. But my goal, my quest, my life's journey is to produce quality compositions that can replace the original songs almost seamlessly.

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