The Laughing Policeman (song)
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In June 1922, Penrose made the first recording of this song, which was released on Regal Records G-7816. The version more usually heard was recorded on 22 April 1926 and released on Columbia Records 4014 and later FB 1184. The composition of the song is officially credited to his wife Mabel under the pseudonym "Billie Grey"; however, the music and melody are taken from The Laughing Song by George W. Johnson which was originally recorded in the 1890s. The Penroses wrote numerous other laughing songs (The Laughing Major, Curate, Steeplechaser, Typist, Lover, etc), but only "The Laughing Policeman" is remembered today, having sold over a million copies. Its popularity continued into the 1970s, as it was a frequently requested recording on the BBC Radio 1 show Junior Choice. It even had a dance mix made of it, which was released on a 10 inch 45rpm disc, resembling an old-style 78rpm record, with the original version on the other side.
The song is referenced in the novel and film of the same name: Fictional Swedish detective Martin Beck gets it as a Christmas present from his daughter Ingrid, but doesn't think it is funny. Beck's first laugh after the murder comes when Stenström's death is fully vindicated[clarification needed].
In The Man who Blew Away, an episode of One Foot in the Grave, the Meldrews are constantly kept awake by a late night party across the road, the worst comes when the partygoers join in the chorus of the song.
Justin Fletcher covered the song on his 2012 album Hands Up, with the lyrics he replaced from the original song, who is a "fat old policeman" with a " fun old policeman" instead, "a fat and jolly red-faced man" was replaced by "a funny jolly policeman," "He's too kind for a policeman" was replaced by "A very kind policeman," "He laughs upon point duty" was replaced on the second verse "He laughs upon his duty," "arrest" was replaced by "catch," "I must arrest you!" was replaced by "I'm gonna catch you!", "cracked" was replaced by "hurt," a policeman's fat old hand was replaced by his "cuddly hand," "gurgle" was replaced by "chortle," and "blessed" was finally replaced by "giggly".
In the BBC detective drama, Bergerac (TV series), the episode Natural Enemies features the song being played on a gramophone in a children's home, as several children laugh at Charlie Hungerford.
- Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project Publication information and mp3 of George W. Johnson's recording: "The Laughing Song"
- Library of Congress image of sheet music for The Laughing Song published in 1894
- Brian Rust British Music Hall on Record, 1979
- See this Archive.org collection of George W. Johnson's music. Included are four different (1898–1902) recordings of The Laughing Song. Also included in the archive is a later version of The Whistling Coon, written in 1878 by Sam Devere (listen here for Johnson's 1891 version). This song was originally recorded in 1890 by Johnson, and on the back of its success, he derived The Laughing Song.
- "Svensk mediedatabas". Retrieved 27 juli 2011.