The Remains of Tom Lehrer (Performed by Adam Kay)


Adam Kay provides a great introduction to the life and dark humour of Tom Lehrer

Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh
13 Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9AJ
Till Monday 29 August (not Wednesday)

I was introduced to the satirical songs of Tom Lehrer by a good friend. I first heard National Brotherhood Week and then went on to listen to many more. His darkly funny songs have both entertained and horrified audiences for decades. It was good to see that though Lehrer retired from performing over fifty years ago the audience at the show contained many young people.

Adam Kay took us through the life of Lehrer in a roughly chronological order with amusing commentary interspersed between the songs. Some of the songs had been updated but where historical context was needed Kay provided it (as with  Alma where he told us about her three husbands: Gustav Mahler, composer; Walter Gropius, of the Bauhaus school of design; and author Franz Werfel).

The updated version of The Masochism Tango was very good and Kay performed both this and the original. It’s brave to update and reinvent some classic songs but Kay pulls it off.

Kay performed well known and less well known songs (although sadly not Wernher Von Braun, one of my favourites) and even encouraged some audience participation. We were asked to shout out suggestions on a variation of the L-Y song. One brave member of the audience even got up on stage and sang The Elements (although he was provided with lyrics!).

Kay is an accomplished performer who is clearly knowledgeable about the life of Tom Lehrer and his songs. I was amazed to hear the poem sent to Harvard by Lehrer as an application. Fans of Tom Lehrer will love this show (as I did) and those who haven’t yet been introduced to his black humour are in for a treat. I’ve seen quite a few shows at the Fringe this year but this one has been the most fun!

Five stars

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington



  1. Dede said

    I just returned from Edinburgh, and as the offering was overwhelming, I only concentrated on music. If this had been listed under music it would have been helpful. I surely would have gone to it, if I’d known about it and it was on during the three days I was there.


    • Patrick Harrington said

      A good point. If we see it being performed elsewhere we will let everyone know!


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