This will be a twofer. I believe I've posted the first video before, a long while back, but not only has enough time passed to have it again, but it's of a piece with the one to follow.
I've long been a huge fan of Tom Lehrer -- the mathematics professor at M.I.T., Harvard, Wellesley and University of California, Santa Cruz -- who had a very successful side career writing (and performing) wonderfully funny and offbeat songs.
It was a surprise and treat to find that Daniel Radcliffe is a fan, as well, so much so that before appearing as a guest on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show, he learned what is probably Lehrer's most difficult, tongue-twisting song, "The Elements," where every element of the Periodic Table was put to music, so that he could perform it on the show.
Two notes: the first is that when Radcliffe asks if anyone in the audience knows Tom Lehrer, there is near total silence. This is understandable on the one hand, given that Lehrer is an American and not terribly well-known here, and his peak was in the late-'60s, early '70s. On the other hand, it's a little surprising became legendary producer Cameron MacIntosh produced a very success musical review of Lehrer's songs on the West End, called Tom Foolery, so I would have thought the London audience might have a few more people who knew his work.
And the second is that because I think he's thrilled simply that he made it through, Radcliffe leaves off the very short last verse, which is a fun one. More on that in a moment. For now, here's that appearance --
And now for the bonus, twofer part of the evening's entertainment.
This is rare footage of Tom Lehrer himself, performing "The Elements." Complete with that last, very short verse. Actually, there's a full minute of additional material, as well, along with what he refers to as "an earlier version" of the song. (The video shows that it goes on for another half-minute, but it doesn't.) This comes from a 1967 concert in, of all places, Copenhagen.
Daniel Radcliffe delivers a highly-admirable, enthusiastic, a capella version of the song. Challenged even more by having an audience and panel that doesn't know what to make up of it. Tom Lehrer has a piano and adoring audience. And he wrote it. But this is how it goes best --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor