Scene: A Play School Rehearsal, circa 1998


Presenter: (sings)
I’m a little teapot, short and stout
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up, then I shout
Tip me over, pour me out.

Me:  (at the piano)
You know, it’s odd, because it’s not the teapot that shouts.

Presenter:  What?

Me:  That’s a kettle.  A kettle gets all steamed up, the old-fashioned ones shout, and then you pour the water into the teapot.

Executive Producer:  Oh, don’t joke, don’t joke about it.  We’ve approached the writers a couple of times to make different versions of that song, and they won’t let us change a word.  Very precious.

Me:  (sings)
I’m a little kettle, short and stout
Here is my

yeah, it’s just not the same, is it?

Presenter: (looking up from TV Week)
Are you done?


Here, just to be clear, is a teapot:

And here is a kettle, the kind that shouts when it gets all steamed up.

They are not the same thing at all.  There may be some sort of hybrid teapot/kettle, which steams up, shouts, and pours out tea, but I don’t think it would work.  Tea needs to steep in water that has just been boiled.  Even with billy tea, where you use the same container for both boiling and steeping, you don’t add the leaves until after the water has boiled.  Then you swing it over your head, three times.

I think my Executive Producer was referring to the publishing house in charge of the rights to The Teapot Song when she said “the writers” – a sensible use of metonymy.  Perhaps the publishers are wise to stick with the original words, because I submit that The Teapot Song is, on every measurable level, the most successful popular lyric that doesn’t make any sense.  Bigger than anything by Dylan, Procul Harum, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or anyone else who didn’t make any sense. 

Applause all round to George Harry Sanders and Clarence Kelley.


4 thoughts on “Scene: A Play School Rehearsal, circa 1998

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