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I'm having a little trouble with matching some of the lyrics of Tim Minchin's "Angry (Feet)" to the reactions to them of the audience. This makes me suspect I'm missing some of the semantic layers. The lyrics are broken down between the more "controlled" and the more "natural" (maniacal) subpersons, I'll mark them like this and like this respectively.

  • "My father left my mother for the love of a pantang (?) nother" [3:20]
  • "In primary school I had trouble making ashtrays friends" [3:45]
  • "And while he lied there bleeding I used his feet to kick him in the head" [5:40]
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For the first joke, it looks like you've found a poorly transcribed lyrics sheet online. The correct word is poontang, a vulgar word for female genitalia or sexual intercourse. –  Bradd Szonye May 19 '13 at 0:16
    
+1 because, while some of this is probably general reference or off-topic, there's also some sophisticated wordplay involved, like subverting expletive infixation and fixed phrases. –  Bradd Szonye May 19 '13 at 0:37
    
Indeed I did, since there was no way I could figure it out by ear. It was about the only word I didn't know nor could spell. –  Francis Drake May 19 '13 at 9:57

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The humor in this skit derives mainly from the juxtaposition of his normal persona with outbursts from his repressed id, culminating in a scene that shows how the latter has overtaken the former.

My father left my mother for the love of a (POONTANG) -nother.

This joke insinuates that his father didn't really leave for love, but instead for tawdry, midlife-crisis sex. It's also similar to the common practice of punctuating the word another with obscenity (e.g., a-fucking-nother), called expletive infixation.

In primary school, I had trouble making (ASHTRAYS) friends.

This outburst refers to the formerly common practice of making clay ashtrays in grade school art classes. They're generally awful – and it's a terrible idea – and most of the people in the audience have probably done it. It makes for an absurdly innocent counterpoint to the other jokes, and it subverts the fixed phrase “making friends.”

And while he lay there bleeding, I used his feet to kick him in the head.

The joke here is partly in the sheer, grotesque absurdity of kicking a man (while he's down) with his own severed feet, partly in the irony that integrating his repressed feelings has simply made him homicidally vengeful toward the person who told him to do it, and partly in allusion to the childish game “Why are you hitting yourself?”

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Thanks a lot for your fantastic answer! It clears up a lot. –  Francis Drake May 19 '13 at 9:51
    
Bradd, primary school is what people call schools for children from ages 4 to 11, in the UK. Is the "grade school" that you mentioned, the same and if so, in what part of the world? –  Tristan May 19 '13 at 15:09
    
@Tristan Grade school, grammar school, and elementary school are North American terms roughly equivalent to primary school (which we also use). Beyond that, it gets complicated – see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_school –  Bradd Szonye May 19 '13 at 20:08
    
That's enlightening, Bradd. Thanks. I hadn't heard of making ashtrays at school. –  Tristan May 20 '13 at 12:04

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