Dr. Demento Presents “Shaving Cream” by Benny Bell

ShavingCream

Growing up in the early ‘80s in San Francisco, my husband Mike used to listen to the Dr. Demento syndicated program on radio station KFOG. The numerous novelty hits played during the broadcast included such still-familiar tunes as “Monster Mash,” “Fish Heads,” and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” but there’s one song in particular that is played with regularity in our car during the family’s daily commute to daycare and work.

And that song is “Shaving Cream”.

Let me explain. Our one daughter is almost 4 years old and has a pretty healthy sense of humor. So Mike decided to put together his own version of a musical playlist for her enjoyment. Eschewing the typical, conventional kids’ music (even the hipper tunes by They Might Be Giants or Dan Zane), he figured she would enjoy the types of songs that HE enjoyed as a kid (thanks to the likes of the good Dr. Demento), like “Fish Heads” and “Shaving Cream”.

What was the song “Shaving Cream” about? Well, here’s a sample stanza for you:

I have a sad story to tell you
It may hurt your feelings a bit
Last night as I walked into my bathroom
I stepped in a big pile of …
Sssshhhhaving cream,

When you have a song called “Shaving Cream”, where the underlying joke is that the singer is trying to avoid singing the word “sh**”, which then makes the stories told in each verse sound nonsensical, …and you’re four years old? Then what you’ve got on your hands is just comedy gold!

back-coverOriginally written, recorded, and self-published in the 1940s by Benny Bell, the song gained notoriety in the 1970s after Dr. Demento started playing it on his radio show. “Shaving Cream” was reissued and even went on to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 list (its highest position was No. 30).

Demento-CDDr. Demento included the track on Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Volume I: The 1940s (and Before), which featured other ’40s classics like Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” and Costello Billy’s “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man”. Demento himself even went on to record a version of the song, and even occasionally teamed up to perform it with Weird Al Yankovic.

Here’s a fun clip of Dr. D and Weird Al performing it in 2010 at W00tstock 2.6 in Los Angeles.

Are you a fan of Dr. Demento? If so, I’d love to know what some of your favorite songs are from his show!

djdarko

It's all just pops and clicks within the vinyl groove I'm listening to. Music, movies, commercials, action figures, cassette tapes...anything that you left in your parents' attic when you moved. I want to talk about it.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist

Subscribe to the Retroist Newsletter

* indicates required

6 thoughts on “Dr. Demento Presents “Shaving Cream” by Benny Bell

  1. Growing up we had a local radio station that carried the Dr. Demento show Sunday nights. I recorded many of them on cassette tape and that’s where I first heard this song. In sixth grade we were allowed to bring songs for other kids to sing as long as we brought lyric sheets. I typed up the words to this song and brought the cassette to school. We sang it for weeks until someone’s mom complained and that was the end of that. I still have the song on my iPhone and it pops up on random play from time to time.

    Some of my other Demented favorites included Wet Dream, Space Invaders, The Sounds of Sinus, Boot to the Head (either one), Fish Heads, and Squirrels!

  2. I met the good Doctor a few years ago when I helped out with a Spike Jones (the band leader!) restrospective at the Paley Center for Television.

    He was introducing all the clips and the panelists. It’s funny because he’s not a cooky guy in real life – he’s actually pretty mellow and doesn’t crack a lot of jokes. But super lovely and it was a joy to tell him I grew up listening to him on The Loop in Chicago.

    My favs? Star Trekkin. Boot To The Head. Marvin. Any Weird Al. Dead Puppies. Kinko The Clown. 99 Dead Baboons.

  3. I miss the days of taping songs off of the radio. That’s awesome that you brought this to school for everyone else to learn, Rob!

    Patrick- that sounds like it was an awesome event @ Paley. And so cool that you got to talk with him for a bit!

  4. jkramer says:

    I actually have a video of Benny Bell himself singing Shaving Cream on The Uncle Floyd show…. Benny sings while Uncle Floyd accompanies him on the piano.

  5. A classic! A friend of mine got to see Benny Bell perform this song in 1982 (at a show that also featured Dr. Demento and Weird Al). Benny even performed “Shaving Cream” as part of Dr. D’s anniversary special on Comedy Central in the early 90s. (Benny was in his 80s at that point!)

    Dr. Demento is still in business, by the way — still releasing an online version of his show every week. And in a few days he’ll be appearing at FumpFest, a comedy music convention in the Chicago area, June 20-22. (I’ll be there too; should be a very silly weekend.)

Comments are closed.