If there’s a task that must be done
Don’t turn your tail and run
Don’t pout, don’t sob
Just do a half-assed job
With Disney’s highly anticipated sequel Mary Poppins Returns finally hitting theaters next week, I figure it’s as good a time as any to take a look back at a handful of sketches, TV episodes, and YouTube clips that skewer the original Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews, one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time. With its upbeat melodies, iconic characters, and instantly recognizable sets and costume design, making a mockery of Mary Poppins is as appealing to comedy writers as “A Spoonful of Sugar.” But beware: not all of these parodies are appropriate for younger audiences.
1) The Simpsons – “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious”
When Springfield’s most devoted matriarch Marge starts losing her blue hair due to stress, the Simpsons have to call in a new nanny to temporarily take over child-rearing duties. With Grampa Abe out of the running and Homer scaring away a Mrs. Doubtfire doppelganger, our favorite family is happy to settle for Shary Bobbins, a dead ringer in appearance, voice, and mannerisms for a certain popular children’s character– but don’t notify the Disney legal department: she’s “an original creation like Ricky Rouse or Monald Muck.”
This eighth-season episode of The Simpsons is remembered as one of the all-time classics and features hilarious toe-tapping musical numbers like “Cut Every Corner,” “A Boozehound Named Barney,” and “Happy Just the Way We Are,” all undeniably inspired by a certain original movie-that-shall-not-be-named. Shary Bobbins even reconnects with her old flame Groundskeeper Willie (standing in for the Bert role) and inspires Mr. Burns to fly a kite, all before losing her patience, giving up on the Simpson family entirely, and flying off to one of the funniest final moments in the show’s history.
2) Funny Or Die – “Mary Poppins Quits” (NSFW)
Warning: One expletive near the closing of this video means you might want to turn it off before the end if kids are watching.
Frozen star Kristen Bell does a pitch-perfect job of mimicking Julie Andrews’ voice and demeanor in this Funny or Die video from 2014, which uses humor to highlight debate over minimum wage via the Mary Poppins song parody “Just a Three-Dollar Increase.” Poppins wants to quit her nannying gig because she can’t survive on her current salary, and as you’d expect, there are appearances by her bottomless carpet bag, the magical tape measure, less-than-convincing animatronic birds, Mary’s autonomous reflection, and even those lovable animated penguins.
Obviously this is a one-off quickie satire, but as the many comments below the YouTube post indicate, Kristen Bell’s performance here undeniably demonstrates that she would have made an excellent Mary Poppins in Disney’s official sequel, had the role not gone to the also-extremely-talented Emily Blunt. Fortunately, Bell will return to the role of Anna in Disney’s Frozen 2, due out late next year.
3) MAD TV – “Mary Poppins Deleted Scene”
In a similar vein, but on the opposite end of the politically-charged spectrum, this 2001 MAD TV sketch features an older Julie Andrews (played by cast member Mo Collins) introducing a scene she supposedly had removed from the original Mary Poppins film for being ” “too mean-spirited and scary, even for Disney.” In the clip, the title character enlists the help of illegal immigrants to help the children’s housework get done. Another MAD TV regular, Michael McDonald, shows up as Dick Van Dyke’s character Bert and offers to pay the Mexican workers with chimichangas.
It’s probably not the most racially or culturally sensitive bit to ever appear on network television, but the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” song parody entitled “The Immigration and Naturalization Service” can’t help but elicit a few tasteless chuckles: “Yes, you know the sound of it can make you kind of nervous.” And by the end of the sketch, it’s clear the show’s intent is to point out the hypocrisy of wealthy anti-immigrant homeowners taking advantage of cheap alien labor, so I don’t feel too bad for laughing at “Um-dittle-ittl-um-dittle-INS.”
4) How It Should Have Ended – “Mary Poppins Starring Yondu”
Writer/director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies stand out among the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for having a unique voice and delightfully offbeat comic tone, which is just part of the reason why it’s shame we won’t be getting a third entry from the same creative leadership. Still, we’ll always have those first two films and their many memorable moments, including one Disney-inspired line near the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Yondu’s prideful shout of “I’m Mary Poppins, Y’all!” after Star-Lord compares him to the umbrella-floating heroine.
The manic minds over at How It Should Have Ended took that instantly-unforgetting quote to its ultimate fulfillment by inserting Michael Rooker’s Yondu Udonta character into footage from Mary Poppins. It’s a real kick to see Yondu interacting with the Banks children, berating their father George, riding a purple-haired carousel house, and flirting with Bert. In the video’s funniest moment, the red-mohawked Ravager’s use of the magic tape measure indicates that Michael is “SKINNY, GOOD FOR THIEVING.” Plus, Baby Groot dances with the chimney sweeps. How can you go wrong?
5) Saturday Night Live – “Mary Poppins”
The Princess Diaries star Anne Hathaway gets her Poppins on as Saturday Night Live guest host in a sketch from 2008. This decidedly adult-themed take on the classic Disney musical finally redefines the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” as “a disease of the liver,” and it’s heavily implied that Mary may have passed on the malady to Bert (played by then-SNL cast member Bill Hader of Inside Out, Finding Dory, and Ralph Breaks the Internet) and Constable Jones (Will Forte of Gravity Falls) via some rather salacious means.
Hathaway certainly looks and sounds the part, which makes you wonder if she was also ever a contender to revive the role on the big screen, and it’s fun to see Bobby Moynihan (Louie on the current DuckTales reboot) ham it up as an overexcited Michael Banks, with Casey Wilson (Bride Wars) as his similarly oblivious sister Jane.
Mary Poppins Returns flies into theaters this coming Wednesday, December 19.