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 …
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!
Originally 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).
Dr. 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!
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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