Before heading into some serious discussion about pension plans and other such non-funny topics, everyone deserves a good smile first. In this case, not every crossover idea is a good one…
The August 1, 2007 edition of The Onion (think of it like a print version of The Daily Show and its mock-apple pie spin-off, The Colbert Report), featured an article entitled “Activision Reports Sluggish Sales For Sousaphone Hero,” a fictitious spin-off of the popular video game Guitar Hero .
First off, kudos to the crack team at The Onion for not getting a sousaphone and a tuba confused whereas I can honestly say that I’ve seen “real” newspapers make that very mistake. As a tuba player I have to say this piece made me laugh out loud from the first paragraph and kept me laughing through to the end.
Apparently, tubas (and sousaphones) have been a popular topic for mainstream humorists. For example, the Fox television program “Family Guy” had a funny bit involving a tuba (just click the video still to your left to watch the clip). Perhaps unsurprising, the article and video play to stereotypes for tuba players: fat guys (although the “Family Guy” clip is guilty of calling a sousaphone a tuba).
Even though I’m a tuba player (and not fat) I don’t mind the stereotypes. In fact, I even remember talking to a potential donor and during the conversation when she found out I was a tuba player she said – in all seriousness mind you – “but you’re not fat.” I don’t have a problem with that – after all if you can’t laugh at yourself then you probably don’t have a sense of humor in the first place. At the same time, learning more about the tuba in your orchestra will likely yield some fascinating discoveries.
And just so you don’t think all tubas sound like the one from the “Family Guy” clip above (thankfully, they don’t), here’s a clip from Music For Two Big Instruments which you can find on a new CD featuring music from composer (and blogger) Alex Shapiro (purchase).. Alex wrote this piece for New York Philharmonic tubist, Alan Baer, an uncompromising musician and a really nice guy.