Typecasting country artists as flipping between sounding sad and nostalgic paints a limited picture that leaves out the ever-presence of humor within the genre.
Intentionally corny skits and bawdry “hokum” songs entered country music in the early years via string bands and blues singers, respectively. A little later, such stage and radio shows as the Grand Ole Opry featured comedians including Minnie Pearl, while the singing cowboys of the big screen tended to have such dim-witted sidekicks as the great Smiley Burnette.
By the 1960s, Nashville reigned as Music City USA, and many of the town’s biggest stars maintained their forerunners’ senses of fun. That tradition carries on today, as demonstrated by this list of 10 hilarious country songs.
This musical roundup skips artists known primarily for comedy, such as Homer & Jethro, Ray Stevens, Cledus T. Judd and others. Instead, it gathers songs by some of the most serious and beloved artists of the past 60 years.
“How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody But Me"Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis
One of the biggest hitmakers of his time, Webb Pierce, helped propel Mel Tillis to solo stardom with this cut and others co-written by Tillis. This one demonstrates Tillis’ way with words and the self-deprecating humor that made him a common guest on primetime variety shows.
"Queen of the House"Jody Miller
It’s too hard to pick just one of Roger Miller's intentionally goofy songs, so let’s go with Jody Miller's (no relation) Grammy-winning answer song to “King of the Road.” It pokes fun at gender roles while furthering the familiar tune from the song that dominated the mid-1960s.
Johnny Cash always had a silly side, as heard on “Everybody Loves a Nut,” “Look at Them Beans,” “Chicken in Black” and, more obviously, “A Boy Named Sue.” His real crowning achievement as a comedian, however, might’ve been this love song about a throne, of sorts.
The always hilarious Roy Clark turned sad breakup songs on their head when his jovial personality and guitar virtuosity changed the mood of this Larry Kingston and John Edward Nix co-write. Other bizarre early ‘70s selections by Clark include 1972’s "The Lawrence Welk - Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka"
“You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly"Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn
One of the ‘70s’ top superstar duos poked fun at marital troubles and each other throughout one of the funniest country songs from any decade. It comes across as a string of inside jokes that’d be just plain mean if Loretta Lynn said them to anyone other than Conway Twitty, and vice versa.
One of known funnyman Jerry Reed’s best singles describes the makings of a Clint Eastwood comedy (a conman, a wacky animal sidekick, etc.). In addition, he shows off the best country singer impressions this side of Merle Haggard.
“Pickup Man” and Kenny Chesney's “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” could be argued as extensions of “hokum” traditions of double entendres. Realistically, they’re just self-deprecating redneck jokes, more akin to the sillier songs of Mel Tillis.
Believe it or not, the dating scene was ridiculous before smart phone apps became a thing. Reba McEntire says so in this send-up of suitors whose follow-up phone call philosophies extend beyond just two or three days after that awkward first date.
There’s been funny songs since this one, but few of them belong in the Dad Joke Hall of Fame alongside this modern comedy classic. If you’re debating if this one’s aged well, consider that Brad Paisley champions being good to your partner by painting this image of what not to do.
Any list of self-deprecating, non-offensive, countrified joke songs would be incomplete without this one that’s merely about its narrator’s ability to sing just like Willie Nelson (why ... what were you thinking?!). Paul Overstreet wrote it along with another knee-slapper, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” as well as some of the best serious songs of the past 40 years (“Love Can Build a Bridge,” “Forever and Ever, Amen”).