In 1990, animators Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki had the idea to create a children’s show, using brand-new 3-D computer-animation technology, that would convey Christian themes and teach biblical values and lessons. Vischer initially conceived an animated chocolate bar as the main character, but after his wife suggested that parents might see it as promoting unhealthy eating habits, he switched to fruits and vegetables. And thus, VeggieTales was born, a show populated by Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and a whole motley crew of talking asparagus, gourds, peas, and zucchini.
Most episodes of the direct-to-video series retold Bible stories like the Battle of Jericho or David and Goliath or focused on teaching vaguely Christian principles such as loving your neighbor and telling the truth. But VeggieTales eventually transcended its churchy roots, spawning a Saturday-morning cartoon and two theatrically released movies. Even if you weren’t raised as a religious Christian, if you grew up in the 1990s or 2000s, you’ve probably seen at least one VeggieTales video. And if you were one of those kids for whom the Christian messaging sailed straight over your head, your memories are most likely tied not to parables via the produce aisle but to “Silly Songs With Larry” — a funny little segment inserted into the middle of each episode, in which Larry the Cucumber comes out and sings, well, a silly song.
“Silly Songs” was a runaway success, with several compilation videos such as A Very Silly Sing-Along!, The End of Silliness?, and The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown, in which thousands of fans voted for their favorite Silly Songs. Years have passed since the first Silly Song graced our VHS players, but many of the songs still hold up, while others … less so. With two original series on Netflix, a rebooted VeggieTales show currently airing, and a third movie in development, we’re taking the opportunity to rank the good, the bad, and the very, very silly songs, with input and behind-the-scenes stories from Larry the Cucumber himself, Nawrocki.
42. ‘The Agitated Song’ (2020)
Larry comes onstage, sings four lines (“I’m very, very upset / And I’m not having fun / So if you will excuse me / My little song is done”), and exits stage left, presumably too agitated to continue. It’s a shame, as a full version could have real potential to be the defining anthem of this Current Moment, but four bars do not a song make.
Mike Nawrocki: I don’t even recall that one! It probably got buried in one of those recording sessions. That’s funny. I’ll have to look that one up.
41. ‘My Golden Egg’ (2015)
In 2014, Netflix commissioned a new VeggieTales series that included an updated character design. “My Golden Egg” is the only Silly Song that utilizes the new design, and for good reason — it’s an insult to vegetables everywhere. The song is decent, I suppose, though I confess I didn’t listen to it carefully, as I was too busy pointing at the cucumber on my screen and shouting “Impostor!” I have no idea who performed this song, but it certainly wasn’t the Larry we all know and love.
Nawrocki: We did some new episodes for a new streaming service called Yippee, where we’ve gone back to the original VeggieTales animation style, which I also prefer.
40. ‘Donuts for Benny’ (2009)
As a Christian franchise, VeggieTales is predictably very into Christmas; four out of the 42 Silly Songs are Christmas themed. None of them rank particularly high on this list, but “Donuts for Benny” is by far the weakest. Helmed by Mr. Lunt (a decorative gourd whose wispy mustache and missing eyes are pretty unsettling), the song is about a mangy mutt named Benny begging for scraps outside a doughnut shop. When Benny gets a couple deep-fried treats in him, however, he turns into a whirling dervish that sweeps up Mr. Lunt in an energetic jig. The abrupt tonal shift from heartfelt ballad to jaunty ditty is quite jarring, and both Benny and Mr. Lunt are kinda creepy, so it’s gonna be a no from me!
Nawrocki: I was visiting my in-laws, my wife’s sister, and she worked at a high school up in the Chicago area. I was going through the school, and they had a poster up that said “Donuts for Benny.” It was some sort of fundraiser for the school — they had a dog mascot — and I just thought that was really funny, so I took that phrase and created this little story.
39. ‘Best Friends Forever’ (2012)
Who the hell are these girls? Where the hell is Larry? “Best Friends Forever” consists of Laura Carrot and Papaya Poppyseed declaring their undying devotion to each other via chatspeak (“You’re my BFFLNMW” — a.k.a. Best Friend for Life No Matter What). “Best Friends Forever” seems like VeggieTales’ effort to appeal to a new generation of tech-savvy, phone-obsessed youngsters, but, sadly, like all adult attempts to pander to children, the result is woefully out of touch.
Nawrocki: My daughter was in middle school and was texting her friends constantly, so I thought it would be fun to do a song based on all the texting acronyms — LOL and BFF and all that. It was a challenge for me to take all these acronyms and make them into a song and make them rhyme.
38. ‘Pants’ (2010)
You know that saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”? If that were true, theoretically pants shouldn’t even exist in the VeggieTales universe, because vegetables don’t have legs and therefore don’t need pants. “Pants” tries to get around this glaringly obvious fallacy by forcing Jerry and Jimmy Gourd to balance on stilts in order to advertise the pants Larry is selling. It’s unclear which vegetables would buy themselves such a thoroughly useless garment — the most plausible possibility I can think of is a mutated carrot.
Nawrocki: I just love that visual of Jerry and Jimmy on their stilts. And at the very end, the pants get taken off of the gourds, and Jimmy comments on Jerry’s skinny legs, which I thought was really funny.
37. ‘Supper Hero’ (2012)
This is the only song to feature “Larryboy,” Larry’s crime-fighting alter ego who makes sporadic appearances throughout the franchise. In keeping with the superhero theme, “Supper Hero” features Jimmy Gourd in the titular role. Jimmy comes to the rescue when Larryboy is served an unappetizing plate of Brussels sprouts and sauerkraut. Unfortunately, our Supper Hero proves to be fairly indiscriminate when deciding which dinners require his assistance. The gang does sport some pretty sick costumes (check out the plungers on Larry’s head), but, in the end, “Supper Hero” is all style, no substance.
Nawrocki: I collaborated on this one with a guy named Mark Steele. We were writing The League of Incredible Vegetables, which was a superhero theme with Larryboy that we expanded out into the rest of the Veggie characters.
36. ‘The Eight Polish Foods of Christmas’ (2011)
Oscar is catering the VeggieTales Christmas party, and he has brought a cornucopia of Polish dishes, which he presents one by one in a parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I do not have a lot of familiarity with Polish cuisine, and I have no doubt that gołąbki and chruściki are delicious, but the way the animated food looks … let’s just say it does not do them justice.
Nawrocki: My grandmother is Polish; she emigrated from Poland and lived with us for a number of years. My dad was really into Polish Christmas traditions, so all those foods were foods that I grew up on, which are basically things wrapped around meat.
35. ‘Bubble Rap’ (2012)
Larry, Mr. Lunt, Junior Asparagus, and Jimmy Gourd form a boy band known as Boyz in the Sink (presumably a reference to the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, which children in the mid-2000s are sure to understand). There are a few BITS songs ranked higher on this list, but generally I prefer Larry as a solo act. “Bubble Rap” is literally just about popping bubble wrap, and, sure, I enjoy squeezing those little plastic bubbles as much as the next person, but like … not this much. Also, recurring character Khalil swings by to drop a rap verse. Khalil is a blue half-worm, half-caterpillar. He is very disturbing to look at, and I do not like him at all.
Nawrocki: We put out a questionnaire to VeggieTales fans asking “What would you like to see a Silly Song about?” We got a bunch of entries, and I got to pick one of them to do a song about, and it was bubble wrap.
34. ‘Oh, Santa!’ (1996)
It’s Christmas Eve, and Larry is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, for whom he has prepared a plate of cookies. Instead of a jolly tomato in a white beard, however, he receives visits from a bank robber (huh??) and a Viking (huh???). This song is all over the place, and though randomness often breeds silliness, the premise of “Oh, Santa!” is just too bizarre to really work. The best part of the song is when an agent from the IRS comes knocking and gets the door slammed in his face.
Nawrocki: This was inspired by my tax bill that was due that year. This was in the early days of VeggieTales. We were struggling with making payroll and surviving this business, and I was doing freelance work where you get 1099s and you don’t pay your taxes on them. So I got to the end of the year and I had this huge tax bill, and I was just really gripe-y with the IRS for having to pay all this money. I drained my bank account basically, and I was like, Oh man. I just felt like it was robbery. So this was directed at the IRS.
33. ‘Astonishing Wigs’ (2011)
Archibald, an uptight, monocled asparagus, is a consistent foil for Larry’s silliness, so it’s no surprise that his Silly Song solo is a bit of a bore. His segment is named “The History of Fashion,” and he regales us with a lackluster, long-winded lesson on Regency-era wigs. Also, these three random pigs show up in the middle of it. What are you even doing here, pigs? This is a show about vegetables, not bacon!
Nawrocki: I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing some British guy, and he used the phrase “astonishing wigs.” I was like, I just love that! I loved the sound of it — I loved the timbre and the feel of it.
32. ‘A Mess Down in Egypt’ (2007)
Another BITS track that only just manages to edge out “Bubble Rap” due to the non-presence of Khalil. The Boyz tell the story of Moses, complete with B-boy dance moves and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air references. They try their best to make it silly, but I can see right through the pretense, and I am not here to be delivered a history lesson in disguise!
Nawrocki: If I recall, this was inspired by the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. I was a huge Fresh Prince fan, and I’m glad to see that’s all coming back now.
31. ‘SUV’ (2004)
Larry and Miss Achmetha (a green onion) flirt up a storm by praising each other’s respective sport utility vehicles. “You’ve got nice chrome” and “Your roll bar is to die for” may be perfectly acceptable pickup lines in the automotive and/or vegetable worlds, but they fail to sweep most 7-year-olds off their feet.
Nawrocki: I’ve been a Jeep owner for many years, and it struck me that most people who own sport utility vehicles live in the suburbs and basically just use them to go to the store. So I had that idea of two suburbanites spotting each other at the gas station and singing about all the adventures that they imagine in their sport utility vehicles, with the reality being that they’ll never really drive them out of the suburbs.
30. ‘Happy Tooth Day’ (2013)
Larry pays homage to his iconic bucktooth in “Happy Tooth Day,” throwing a birthday party for his one and only pearly white. He even brings it a present: a few new friends, in the form of a set of dentures. The effect of his newly toothy grin, though, is horrifying enough to send Bob fleeing. Sorry, Larry, but we gotta go with Bob on this one — your single incisor suits you much better.
Nawrocki: This was all based on the visual gag of what it would look like for Larry to have real human lips with a mouth full of teeth. It looks pretty creepy!
29. ‘Macaroni and Cheese’ (2014)
Larry tells the story of how his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great (he forgets how many greats) -grandfather and -grandmother invented mac and cheese in this savory spin on West Side Story. It’s charming enough, though obviously not the most original theme. Plus, Larry’s excessive repetition of great can get a bit, well, grating.
Nawrocki: We were owned by DreamWorks for a couple of years, so while we were with them, they brought in a couple writers, Dave Kinnoin and Jimmy Hammer, and I got to work with them on this one. You’ve got a character from one family who’s all about pasta, and the other family is all about cheese, and they fall in love and create macaroni and cheese. Just a goofy little concept.
28. ‘Wrapped Myself Up’ (2013)
“Wrapped Myself Up” is a cute, jazzy little number but generally pretty forgettable. Larry’s gift-wrapping abilities apparently extend to everything except his actual present. (Okay, so you can wrap up a cucumber but not a box, Larry?) Overall, it just gives big holiday-recital vibes, like it’s a song that a bunch of 4-year-olds in candy-cane costumes would dance to while waving at their parents.
Nawrocki: We had a Christmas episode that needed a Silly Song, and I wanted to do one that was Andrews Sisters–inspired — you know, like “the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B.” So I worked with Kurt Heinecke on that music to come up with that flavor and tempo for the song.
27. ‘Goodnight Junior’ (2010)
Junior Asparagus’s mom is tucking him into bed with a sweet, tender lullaby. She has kissed his cheek, turned off the lights, and is almost home free when … Junior pipes up and asks for his stuffed bear. And then his cat. And then his horse. Junior, please just go to sleep and let your poor mother unwind on the couch with a glass of wine and The Real Housewives.
Nawrocki: This was inspired by my daughter. When she was a kid, she just loved to sleep with a million stuffed animals. I thought it would be fun to have a duet between Junior and his mom, who, by the way, were both voiced by Lisa Vischer, Phil Vischer’s wife.
26. ‘Where Have All the Staplers Gone?’ (2010)
Larry and Petunia Rhubarb join forces for this Broadway-style parody of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” in which the two lament the dwindling stock of office supplies. It’s a suitably theatrical duet, partially marred by the fact that Petunia’s singing voice is leagues above Larry’s. Like, Larry can carry a tune well enough, but Petunia could be recruited to sing soprano with the Metropolitan Opera. Sorry, Larry, you just can’t keep up!
Nawrocki: We had a little office-supply area in our office, and just going in there looking for something was always like, Ugh, where is this thing? So I thought it would be fun to do a take on a Broadway-style musical love song where Larry is singing about staplers, but the subtext is about: Where did their love go? Cydney Trent, who does the voice of Petunia, is Broadway-trained and a great vocalist.
25. ‘Kilts and Stilts’ (2013)
Scooter, a Scottish carrot, is delighted that Larry is going to be singing a Scottish Silly Song. Larry dons a red tartan kilt while Mr. Nezzer plays bagpipes and Jerry Gourd tucks into some haggis. But then the Peas flip a switch, and all of a sudden everyone’s wearing green tartan and repping Ireland instead, much to Scooter’s indignation. This song is pretty repetitive and is only ranked as high as it is for the various accents that Larry puts on.
Nawrocki: I thought it would be fun to go through the British Isles with all the different types of kilts and pointing out the difference between England and Scotland and Ireland. I had to do some subtle accentwork, figuring out how to sing as Larry with a Scottish and British and Irish accent. That was challenging for sure.
24. ‘Belly Button’ (2003)
“Belly Button” forged new ground for the Silly Song series. It is BITS’s first song, and the first one that doesn’t take place on the kitchen countertop. Instead, Mr. Lunt is at the doctor’s office with an urgent matter: He’s missing a belly button. Scenes of BITS annoying Nurse Achmetha in the examining room alternate with scenes of the group vibing in a dimly lit hallway as Mr. Lunt croons about his lack of navel. Mr. Lunt, you don’t have eyes; a belly button should be the least of your concerns!
Nawrocki: This one is up there among my favorite songs. At the time we did this, boy bands were really big, and, in fact, I still have a bobblehead in my office of Lance from ’N Sync. That was one of my inspirations as I wrote this song. This was probably the single most expensive Silly Song that we did because it had all these environments. We ended up going really nuts on the visuals, and it got really expensive and drove our producer crazy.
23. ‘Schoolhouse Polka’ (2005)
A parody of Schoolhouse Rock!, “Schoolhouse Polka” finds Larry enlisting the help of an accordion to teach us about homophones. The song itself is mediocre, but the costume Larry wears in this episode is doing him a lot of favors. In his nerdy black frames, collared shirt tucked into belted khakis, and mussed comb-over, he looks like every English teacher you’ve ever had a crush on.
Nawrocki: I was a big Schoolhouse Rock! fan, and I thought it would be fun to do a little grammar lesson on homophones and different parts of speech. So it’s Larry with his accordion going through these goofy lessons and then he breaks down into a Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” solo.
22. ‘Monkey’ (2007)
Larry and Bob are on a safari, and Larry is clinging to a piece of wisdom from a zoo expert: “If it doesn’t have a tail, it’s not a monkey — it’s an ape.” Pretty straightforward, right? Larry takes this reasoning a bit too far, however, confidently asserting that since kites and comets have tails, they’re monkeys, and since nickels, bubbles, and salads don’t have tails, they’re apes. Bob’s occasional Silly Song appearances are mostly minor supporting roles, so it’s nice to see him get equal billing in “Monkey,” where his more levelheaded nature tempers Larry’s fanciful leaps of logic.
Nawrocki: This one was [written] by Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame, and this is my favorite Silly Song that those guys did. Just really catchy, really fun, super-fun to sing.
21. ‘Perfect Puppy’ (2014)
Larry wants to adopt the perfect puppy but finds an excuse to reject every breed that Bob suggests. At the adoption center, however, Larry falls in love with a dog that looks like the spitting image of him, only orange and sporting a shaggy haircut. (“I think he might be a cuke-apoo!”) As one of the later Silly Songs, the quick scene transitions are quite sophisticated, and I do have to give props for the use of Tchaikovsky’s “Fantasy Overture” from Romeo and Juliet when Larry finally meets his soul mutt.
Nawrocki: This one was also written by Dave Kinnoin and Jimmy Hammer. Larry’s dreaming of what the perfect puppy could be, and he’s got all these reasons why this dog doesn’t work and that dog doesn’t work, and eventually the dog that’s perfect for him is one that looks exactly like him.
20. ‘Sneeze If You Need To’ (2009)
Bob is teetering on the verge of an enormous sneeze. Seeking release, he pays a visit to Larry the Sneeze Doctor, who employs a variety of methods — pepper, feathers, potpourri — to get him to clear the hurdle. “Sneeze If You Need To” is the only Silly Song with the distinction of being both silly and actually educational; shout-out to this song for throwing in some obscure fun facts. For example, did you know that the photic sneeze reflex, or sneezing when exposed to bright light, is a condition found in 25 percent of the population?
Nawrocki: I believe this was another Andrew Peterson–Randall Goodgame song. So those guys were at bat with the idea of trying to suppress a sneeze and what that means, and it was fun to come in and sing as Larry.
19. ‘Lance the Turtle’ (2006)
It’s time for “Ukulele Karaoke,” “the part of the show where Bob comes out and sings a ukulele karaoke,” according to the show’s announcer — but this is news to Bob. Nevertheless, the show must go on! Thankfully, he’s got support from the professionals, as the Wiggly Turtle Toobies, three peas in straw fedoras, are here to provide backup vocals. Bob makes a pretty good go of it, and, honestly, he does a very respectable job until the fan accidentally shreds his lyrics. Sorry, Bob, but you said it yourself: “This is Larry’s gig!”
Nawrocki: Phil was very excited to have his own Silly Song for Bob. That was one of the things over the years we wanted to do: highlighting different characters coming forward and being able to sing in that space.
18. ‘Gated Community’ (2006)
Larry has accidentally kicked his ball into a gated community. The residents gather around and boast-sing about how lovely the community is: Their lawns are green, their clothes are clean, and their lives are made perfect by the hefty entrance fee. Larry doesn’t care; he just wants his ball back. This Silly Song is a good primer for children in class consciousness and how smugly irritating rich people are.
Nawrocki: I moved to the Nashville area in 2004. I had spent the previous 17 years in Chicago. We were going around with a realtor, and it’s a really beautiful area, very safe, and I was struck by the amount of gated communities here. I was like, Why are there all these gated communities? Why do people need to live behind a fence? It’s so lovely and safe here. It doesn’t make sense to me. It was a bit of social commentary, sneaking that into VeggieTales.
17. ‘The Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo’ (2008)
Larry doesn’t have a song prepared, so Archibald steps in with a little number of his own. Archibald, Larry, Mr. Lunt, Pa Grape, and French peas Jean-Claude and Phillipe embark on a road trip to check out the famed “Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo.” After multiple stops by Larry to run errands, as well as one false alarm (they made a wrong turn and arrived at the far inferior Biscuit of Doug), they finally reach a crossroads with a sign: the Biscuit is 0.01 miles away, the nearest bathroom is 57 miles away, but, alas, everyone needs a potty break. This song ostensibly belongs to Archie, but buoyed by the antics of Larry and the gang, “Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo” far outranks Archibald’s solo turn in “Astonishing Wigs.”
Nawrocki: For this particular one, I was working at the time directing the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything movie in Toronto. There were a couple episodes of VeggieTales done while I was up there. So [Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame] did the Biscuit song, and I just came in and sang it.
16. ‘The Song of the Cebú’ (1997)
Larry is presenting a “sequential image, stereophonic, multimedia event” — which is really just a slide projector and bedsheet — about the story of a boy, his three cebús, and a hippo. (A cebú is kind of like a cow.) Disorganized and unprepared, however, his presentation ends up going spectacularly off the rails. This song is total earworm material, very catchy and fun to sing along with, and the “Song of the Cebú Incident,” as it comes to be known, leads to some further shenanigans down the road.
Nawrocki: My wife and I went to Colombia, and I had never seen cebús before. We were in a little town, and we were going out for ice cream, and on our way we saw these two cebús walking down the street, also to get ice cream, and I got this idea that they were on a date. So this idea of Larry on vacation, and the story about these three cebús, was inspired by my trip.
15. ‘My Baby Elf’ (2005)
There’s a real hodgepodge of references going on in “My Baby Elf.” Larry, dressed as Elvis Presley with elf ears and going by the name “Ear-a-corn,” sings a song about his “elven inamorata,” who does not seem to return his affections. He does a pretty good job strumming his guitar and gyrating his hips, until “Leg-o-lamb” (a.k.a. Jimmy Gourd with a blond wig and a quiver of arrows) cuts in and accuses him of being an “Elvish impersonator.” The increased production value takes this one up a couple notches — the usual kitchen-counter backdrop has been replaced with a scenic forest, plus Larry’s pompadour is a sight to behold.
Nawrocki: Lord of the Rings was huge at that time — this was the early 2000s. We did a parody episode called “Lord of the Beans” and also wanted to do a Silly Song that fit the feel of that show. We based the whole thing on the bad pun of elvish sounding like Elvis.
14. ‘The Yodeling Veterinarian of the Alps’ (1998)
The choral narration of the barbershop quartet, consisting of the Scallion trio and Frankencelery, really carries “The Yodeling Veterinarian of the Alps”; without them, I’d drop this one a few places. Larry plays a Swiss veterinarian who believes he can cure animals by yodeling to them, while his nurse, Pa Grape, slips customers the real remedies under the table. When Larry refuses to give Pa Grape a pay raise, however, Pa Grape leaves him to his own devices, resulting in sweet revenge from a thoroughly cross grizzly bear. Let this song be a lesson to pay your staff fair wages!
Nawrocki: I was a big fan growing up of comedy songs. My dad had an album of a group called the Chad Mitchell Trio, who did a number of funny songs, and that was my inspiration for the quartet, where they were narrating the song on the side with a four-part harmony about this veterinarian.
13. ‘Asteroid Cowboys’ (2014)
Larry, Junior, and Jimmy are galaxy gauchos who ride around on rocket horsies and wrangle stray asteroids that have escaped their space corral. “Asteroid Cowboys” is a worthy addition to the space-Western genre, featuring a rollicking folksy track paired with an extremely dope concept. I mean, c’mon: asteroid cowboys! Asteroid! Cowboys!
Nawrocki: This is from the “Veggies in Space” episode, which is one of my favorite later episodes of VeggieTales. “Home on the Range” is kind of the base of that song and then we just took that idea and ran with it.
12. ‘His Cheeseburger’ (1998)
As a result of the “Song of the Cebú” fiasco, Archibald has unilaterally canceled “Silly Songs With Larry,” to be replaced by “Love Songs With Mr. Lunt.” Archibald thinks Mr Lunt is going to sing about his childhood in Connecticut, but he instead sings about the ardent longing between a cheeseburger and a hungry gourd who shows up at the Burger Bell drive-through too late. “His Cheeseburger” is the most relatable Silly Song yet; I mean, whomst among us hasn’t lusted for a cheeseburger at an ungodly hour?
Nawrocki: This is one of my favorites. I had it written for Larry initially, then thought, Man, Mr. Lunt would pull this one off so much better because of its attitude. It was sort of Meat Loaf-inspired, if you remember the artist Meat Loaf, in the early days of rock.
11. ‘Dance of the Cucumber’ (1995)
Dressed in a striped poncho and oversize sombrero, Larry sings a traditional Argentine ballad in Spanish while Bob translates. The tomato takes umbrage with the song’s lyrics, however, when they insinuate that his singing and dancing abilities fall far short of the cucumber’s. A cameo from Junior’s family amps up the song’s silliness factor, as Junior asks for a photo with the cucumber wearing “authentic Argentinean garb” while his mother gets chased by a pack of dwarfs. What happens in Argentina stays in Argentina!
Nawrocki: When my wife and I were dating, she had a cassette of this singer who had a song called “Los Americanos.” It was basically a song that made fun of Americans. She was translating the lyrics for me, and I was thinking, Oh my gosh, what a funny dynamic, her translating a song that was basically making fun of me. So I wrote the song in English, then worked with my wife to translate it into Spanish that would rhyme, then called in one of our friends, Manuel, who sang it for reference for me, and I just tried my best to copy his accent.
10. ‘The Water Buffalo Song’ (1993)
It’s easy to tell that “The Water Buffalo Song” is the first-ever Silly Song. The graphics are crude; the premise is simplistic; it has none of the trimmings and trappings of later songs. But it’s No. 10 on this list, simply because of the way it manages to distill the essence of silliness into a one-minute bit. 7-year-old me really thought this song was the epitome of comedy, and, 1.5 decades later, my opinion remains unchanged!
Nawrocki: This was written by Phil, and the story from him is that he had some taxwork to turn in and he was walking into one of the federal buildings in Downtown Chicago, and the song just hit him: “Everybody’s got a water buffalo.” We needed a filler space between two short episodes, and that’s what it turned into: a little country ditty that was never quite finished.
9. ‘Larry’s High Silk Hat’ (2001)
Archibald, locked in an eternal battle against silliness, swaps “Silly Songs With Larry” for “Classy Songs With Larry.” Set to the tune of “Funiculì, Funiculà,” Larry waxes poetic about his high silk hat, which makes him feel “swell” and “dandy” and “oh so grandly.” As the day wears on, however, and the sun’s merciless rays beat down, he eventually forgoes the hat to prevent it from sagging — to no avail, for no sooner has he placed it on the bench beside him than a hulking gourd plops down, flattening the hat into a pancake. Now whaddaya think of that!
Nawrocki: Marc Vulcano, who was an animator who worked with us, brought this one, and Marc came from an Italian heritage. It was around the time Forrest Gump came out, so we combined the visual ideas of Forrest Gump, of sitting on a park bench, with this high-silk-hat idea, combining seemingly disparate ideas into one composition.
8. ‘The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything’ (1997)
Listening to this Silly Song in 2020 just hits different. Larry, Mr. Lunt, and Pa Grape are the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything; they just “stay at home and lie around,” which makes them uniquely suited to this particular moment in history. They loll around their pirate ship, drink coconut juice, and watch TV, and they most emphatically do not go anywhere. In this day and age, we should all aspire to be like the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.
Nawrocki: This one got its start for me way before VeggieTales. During my undergrad, I toured with a singing group — I wasn’t a singer; I ran sound for them. They toured all over the United States and Europe over a full summer, and we were looking at the itinerary, and at the end of the summer, we were going to be in Boston. So I came up with this little ditty about never being to Boston in the fall. That stayed in my head for a number of years, and I just thought it would be fun to combine that idea with pirates, who are supposed to be ransacking and doing all these things.
7. ‘The Blues With Larry’ (2005)
Larry is dipping his toes into blues music, accompanied by the masterful stylings of Blind Lemon Lincoln on guitar and harmonica. However, his naturally sunny disposition is holding him back; he just can’t help singing about sunshine and roses and ice cream. Larry’s lyrics are cute, but, honestly, Blind Lemon Lincoln and his groovy harmonica riffs deserve to make the top ten all by themselves.
Nawrocki: This was written with Tim Hodge, a storyboard artist and director with us for a number of years. Larry’s got Blind Lemon, who’s a real blues man, trying to teach him in the way of blues, and it ends up in a polka, which is Larry’s happy place. Tim did the voice for Blind Lemon Lincoln, who is a take on an actual blues singer, Blind Lemon Jefferson.
6. ‘I Love My Lips’ (1996)
Between Larry and Kylie Jenner, it’s a real toss-up as to who loves their lips more. In “I Love My Lips,” Larry and Archibald use a therapy session to dive deep into Larry’s childhood traumas surrounding his lips, culminating in that time he got his lips stuck in a gate and had to go to lip rehab with this kid named Oscar, who got stung by a bee right on the lip. They couldn’t even talk to each other until the fifth week because both their lips were so swollen, and when Oscar finally start speaking, he only spoke Polish, but he taught Larry the word for lip: usta! This song is made doubly funny by the fact that Larry has no discernible lips.
Nawrocki: I wrote “I Love My Lips” on jury duty. This was pre-laptop days, so I didn’t even have a laptop with me; I had a legal pad. It was right around the time I was about ready to get married and going through premarital counseling with my fiancée, now wife. We were going in, talking to the marriage therapist, so that whole scenario made its way into the song. I was thinking, What would it feel like for Larry to have abandonment issues about his lips leaving him?
5. ‘Sippy Cup’ (2009)
Sometimes the nonsense of a Silly Song can veer too far off course, but absurdity levels are perfectly calibrated in “Sippy Cup.” Larry is at a fancy restaurant and asks in a hopeful tone for some water … in a glass. But Larry has an, er, messy history, and the server declares the jig is up — he must use a sippy cup. The situation escalates up the chain, from the server to the busboy to the maître d’ to a courtroom judge, until the judge receives a call from the governor who grants Larry sippy-cup liberation. The busboy brings a glass of grape juice, the room grows quiet, all eyes are on him … and Larry fumbles it, spilling juice all over the patrons. Truly a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions.
Nawrocki: This was a collaboration with a good friend of mine, Steve Taylor. Steve came in with this absurd operetta, the issue of a sippy cup in a restaurant and Larry not being able to hold his water, as they say. I’ve written most of the Silly Songs, but there’s been about ten collaborators I’ve worked with over the years, and it’s fun to get new voices in there.
4. ‘Pizza Angel’ (2005)
It’s been hours since Larry ordered a pizza, and they had a 30-minute-delivery guarantee … Larry gives one of his most stirring performances in “Pizza Angel,” a finely tuned wavering between hope and despair as he wonders what fate could have befallen his deep-dish darling. Turns out his door number was broken, and the pizza-delivery gourd got so hungry looking for him that he ate the pizza. The anguish in Larry’s eyes, the keening wail of his voice … it’s enough to make a grown man cry.
Nawrocki: That one was really fun — a ’50s bebop kind of story. This was another collaboration with Tim Hodge. I actually still work with Tim now, he’s an adjunct professor at the college where I teach.
3. ‘The Hopperena’ (2011)
The French peas consistently steal the show whenever they’re onscreen. Jean-Claude and Phillipe contain more charm and charisma in their tiny pea bodies than all of Hollywood’s glitterati combined. The two are here to teach us the latest dance craze, the Hopperena, which, as it turns out, is merely hopping from side to side. Archibald is at first disapproving of the Hopperena’s simplicity, but after the peas convince him to give it a try, he wholeheartedly embraces the trend. This Silly Song has everything: Jean-Claude and Phillipe being adorable! Archibald in bunny ears and slippers! Archibald acting silly!
Nawrocki: The “Macarena” was a big dance craze back in the ’80s. I thought it would be fun to do a poke at the ridiculousness of the “Macarena” combined with a way-too-simplistic dance. You hop to the left, you hop to the right, and that’s basically the dance.
2. ‘The Hairbrush Song’ (1995)
One morning, Larry steps out of the shower and realizes he can’t find his hairbrush, sending him into an existential spin in which he questions his friends, his surroundings, and, most of all, himself. Larry’s as bald as a baby’s backside, a fact that Junior doesn’t hesitate to point out — what on earth could he be doing with a hairbrush? Eventually, Bob lets Larry know that he gave the hairbrush to the Peach since “He’s got HAIR.” Though Larry is saddened by the revelation, the Peach expresses his gratitude, and all’s right with the world. “The Hairbrush Song” is an undeniable classic; it was even voted “Silliest Silly Song of All Time” on The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown.
Nawrocki: “The Hairbrush Song” is the very first Silly Song that I wrote. I was in the shower and I couldn’t find my razor, so I started singing, “Oh, where is my razor?” I pitched it to Phil, and he was like, “You can’t sing a song about razors to little kids!” So I reimagined it as a hairbrush, which is much more kid friendly and just as fun.
1. ‘Endangered Love’ (2000)
“Endangered Love” represents the pinnacle of the form, the Platonic ideal of a Silly Song. Starring the capricious Barbara Manatee and her on-again, off-again paramour, Bill, the daytime drama Endangered Love drags viewers along a tumultuous emotional journey; at first, Bill dumps Barbara because she can’t speak French, and Barbara is left without a partner for the ball. But Barbara returns, having learned French (“Mais oui, je suis manatee! See?”), and it’s Bill’s turn to confess that — gasp — he can’t dance.
Meanwhile, Larry is such a big fan of the show that he’s got his very own Barbara Manatee doll, with whom he twirls in a passionate tango — until Bob barges in on their alone time. “Endangered Love” clocked in at No. 10 on The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown, but it’s No. 1 in my heart. Oh, Bill!
Nawrocki: Bill and Barbara were two folks who worked with us. Bill was somebody who worked in our marketing department, and Barbara was one of the animators. We just pulled them in and said, “Hey, can you sing this part?” And they were like, “Sure!” Initially, we had Larry watching an endangered-species cooking show on TV. But instead, we drew on this idea of a guilty-pleasure soap opera, so Larry is watching this ridiculous soap opera of these manatees in love, and he’s got this little stuffed animal that he’s in love with, and he does a little tango.