Time Wasters: Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer turned 80 last week. Good grief, that’s more depressing than watching a M*A*S*H reunion special. 80.

Jonathan J. Rosenberg, Senior VP, Product Management at Google posts a tribute to the Harvard mathematician.


From “The Masochism Tango” to “Who’s Next” to “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” (trust us, you have to hear it), Mr. Lehrer’s unique music carved out a distinctive place in popular music in the 1950s and ’60s. He made his fans feel smart. An entrepreneur — and we like entrepreneurs — he self-produced and sold his songs via mail order. And for all the edginess in his humor, he ended up writing some ten clever songs for the ’70s public television children’s program The Electric Company, including a tune about the letter ‘e.

Lehrer turned math into comedy and made it OK — even cool — for us victims of “new math” to say “I don’t get it.”

Math is easy. It’s comedy that’s hard.

(H/T: Jeff Jarvis)

  • Mac Wilson

    I was raised on the New Math, so the first part made sense to me. The Base 8 thing made my head explode, though.

  • Julia

    Beautiful! Also, Happy Birthday Tom! (please, no M*A*S*H reunion!)