"Joy to the World, Our Teacher's Dead": What the Hell Is That All About?
A couple of years back I got obsessed with finding out the origin of "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." Believe it or not I was actually able to track it down to pretty definitively to a single 5th-grade classroom in Dunkirk, Indiana. It's made we wonder what other interesting Christmas parodies I could explore. This brings me to...
Joy to the world, the teacher's dead
We barbecued her head!
What happened to the body?
We flushed it down the potty!
And round and round it went,
And round and round it went
And rouuund and round and round it went
That's the most popular parody version of "Joy to the World," Isaac Watts' hymn based on Psalm 98 and now a classic Christmas carol. Other versions include one where the principal ends up lynched from a flagpole and a UK/Australian-specific rendition where the rhyme scheme is centered around "loo" instead of "potty."
So where does it come from? Well, like "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells," it's tempting to lay it on The Simpsons and call it a day. Not this reporter. I only phone it in when steampunk is involved.
Nonetheless, the most popular version of the song was sung by Nelson Muntz in the 1996 episode "Lisa's Date With Destiny," in which she develops a crush on the bully for his rebellious nature. It's not a very good episode, but Nelson does rock the ever-loving hell out of the tune so it's easy to see how the appearance could have cemented its place in the public mind.
However, it's almost definitely older than that. For instance, there's another variation that replaces a generic school setting with Barney the Purple dinosaur, who debuted in 1992. Granted, that doesn't mean the song first appears there. After all, Barney still shows up every day on PBS Sprout even though no new episodes have been shot since 2009.
Still, the fact that there doesn't seem to be many variations on the Barney versions beyond subject and gender change seems to indicate that the parody was already a well-established schoolground chant by the time Barney hit popularity. I certainly remember singing it in elementary school, which would have been sometime between 1988 and 1993. I'm sure others my age remember it as well.
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