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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/17/2008

The Morning Line: 'Marimba' Is Music to Cartoonists' Ears

By Michael Cavna

What are the odds, really?

First, 'Riffs reads today's "Zippy" and learns that "God" does not play the kettledrum (as fittingly imposing as that might be) but rather the marimba.

Then in short order, we turn to today's "Cul de Sac,," in which the object of poor "Peter Potterpoop's" growing affection is playing not the xylophone (as fittingly "plinky" as that might be) but rather its relative, the marimba.

Are Bill Griffith and Richard Thompson playfully punking us, or did someone declare today National Marimba Appreciation Day?

More likely, it's simply a product of "marimba" being one of the funniest-sounding instrument words -- at least to many American ears.

In that spirit, 'Riffs offers -- for cartoonist punch-line purposes -- the Absurdly Arbitrary Top-10 List of Funniest Instrument Names:

10. Glockenspiel. (All those hard consonants make it infinitely more amusing than xylophone.)
9. Bassoon. (For onomatopoeia value alone, it's a winner.)
8. Zither. (Sounds like a harp in a Dr. Seuss book.)
7. Pan flute. (Largely because of the phrase "Zamfir, king of the pan flute.")
6. Marimba. (See: above.)
5. Cowbell. (Even if the "More Cowbell" slogan got played out.)
4. Gong. (Short and sweet. See: "Gong, Bang A.")
3. Hurdy-gurdy. (Just saying it makes us smile.)
2. Sax. (Gained in double-entendre humor value during Clinton years.)
And the funniest instrument name is...
1. Didgeridoo. (Even Beck gets it.)

Was 'Riffs wrong to snub, say, lute, lyre and castanets? I welcome your "corrections" and alternate entries.


I've seen other gags from the general "Reindeer as Luncheon Meat" family, but can't recall any that were as amusing as today's "Non Sequitur." The look on the elves' faces helps "sell" it, as does the sight of Santa, sleeves rolled up, carving up those Vixen bones.

By Michael Cavna  | December 17, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Political Cartoon: Eyes Closed, Time Magazine Picks Its Top-10
Next: The Interview: 'Candorville' Cartoonist Darrin Bell


ROFL! The non sequitur cartoon is one of his best yet!

Posted by: Alex511 | December 17, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Bagpipes are always good for a laugh.

Posted by: staxowax | December 17, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Glockenspiel... hmmm, this is the third instrument "announced" towards the end of part one of the magnificent Tubular Bells, by the late Vivian Stanshal. What a wonderful voice. For those who have the 50 minute piece, it's at 19 minutes into the first of the two parts. Thanks for reminding me of this. Yes, I know I'm weird :)

Posted by: hdradio | December 17, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band. 'Nuff said. ;)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | December 17, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The artwork is stunning as Dixie makes her move and Judge Parker shifts into maximum action this week...

I think "Casey" better get his bohumpus outside asap...

Posted by: hdradio | December 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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