Opera Memphis’ general director/nerd-in-chief Ned Canty compares Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance to Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch. “It’s a direct descendent from the pirates," he says. "You take this very fearsome group of people and make them kind of ineffectual and cuddly. These pirates never attack anybody weaker than they are, and they never attack an orphan. So everybody says they’re an orphan and the pirates never make any money."
The Pythons aren't the only comics to crib from G&S. Is there any musical theater song more frequently referenced than Pirates' "Modern Major General?" I've linked to clips from a handful of times it's bubbled up in pop culture — this list can't even scratch the surface.
What notable versions of the Major General's song have been left out? Gotta be a lot.
• "You blew it my child": The great Gilda Radner gets comically tripped up on The Muppet Show. Also — a giant snooty carrot.
• "With the eggs on top": Poor Peter doesn't do much better on Family Guy.
• "Very unattractive flannel.": Pranks take an operatic turn on Home Improvement.
• Babylon 5. Wait for the credits.
•Things get dreamy in the "Peggy & the Pirates" episode of Married... with Children.
• Barney's diction gets better on The Simpsons. In space nobody can hear you burp.
• Searching for that last episode of The Simpsons made me aware of this rendition on Veggie Tales. So, that happened.
• And now for something not completely different, The Pirate Movie: "Not now darling, I'm on!"