How to not be the ukulele player everybody hates…

Apparently, in the 1920s, when the uke was hugely popular, so many people played it so much and in so many places, that there were other people who simply couldn’t stand it.

This is documented in at least one book, one movie, and one song (that I know of).

The Movie

In the Buster Keaton comedy, “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, Buster returns from college with a loud striped jacket, a ridiculous thin moustache, and–yes, you guessed it, a ukulele.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.26.12 PM

Buster’s father, appalled, says to a friend, “If you say what you’re thinking, I’ll break your neck.”

And shortly after, snatches Buster’s uke and snaps it in two.

The Book

tyj big

In “Thank You, Jeeves” by P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster, another young fop, rather like Buster Keaton, above, takes up the banjolele.

The ensuing ruckus causes his valet, Jeeves, to quit, and forces Bertie to moves to the countryside, to escape the threats of eviction from his landlord.

(Here’s an Amazon link, if you want to read-n-laff.)

The Song

crazy words

There’s a guy I’d like to kill
And if he doesn’t stop I will
He’s got a ukulele
And a voice that’s loud and shrill

The narrator of the song is certain that the jury and judge will understand the murder of the ukulele player and his never-ending refrain of “Vo-do-do.”

Here’s good old Frank Crummit playing it (on a ukulele–danger!) in 1927:


I’ll give you one way to avoid being the ukulele player that people want to kill (and you can still keep your bright striped jacket).

(That follow-up post is here).

your pal,

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About the Author

Founder of ”Play It Daily” Ukulele, co-founder of the Ukulele Union of Boston, and spreader of good cheer.

Danno Sullivan

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