The 5 Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos

The Rules

  1. The videos must feature Leonard Cohen in a professionally staged and directed performance intended to be viewed in the video medium.
  2. Videos of live performances, such as concerts, are ineligible.
  3. Home-brewed cut and paste videos, Leonard Cohen impersonations, and parodies are ineligible.
  4. “Funniest” includes funny-ha ha, funny-weird, and combinations of both.

The funniness of these videos starring Leonard Cohen, aka Poet Laureate Of Pessimism, aka High Priest Of Pathos, aka Master Of Erotic Despair, aka Gloom Merchant, …1 is, one hopes, self-evident so only minimal annotations have been added.  Most of the videos have been previously featured in Heck Of A Guy posts; in those cases, links are provided for those desirous of fully experiencing these flicks.

5. Tower Of Song (Swedish TV 1988)

I will stipulate that entries #5 and #4 may well be more fun than funny. That specified, I stand by their rankings in this category. For details, see Leonard Cohen Gazed Upon Longingly By Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen During “Tower Of Song” from which this excerpt is taken:

This video of Leonard Cohen and backup singers, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, performing “Tower Of Song” was also part of the 29/30 June 1988 episode of Jacob’s Backstage (Med Noje Pa Dalaro) Stockholm, Sweden [see #4 below] and was also incongruously set against the backdrop of a pleasant  lake.

While the action lacks the fondling that was the keynote of the “I’m Your Man” production, Perla Batalla’s never-shifting gaze fixed on Cohen and Julie Christensen’s dreamy look with sometimes closed and sometimes half-closed eyes are sufficiently provocative.

4. I’m Your Man (Swedish TV 1988)

See Leonard Cohen Danced With, Fondled By Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen To “I’m Your Man” from which this excerpt is taken:

While all the obligatory flirtatious adoration of his back-up singers/willing accomplices associated with the salaciously provocative “I’m Your Man” is, other than the song itself, the high point of the video, at least two other tiny gems adorn this production.

1. I’d Say Please, Too:  Just after 2:30 Leonard Cohen does his Roscoe Beck imitation, echoing his own “Pleeeeease.”

2. Someone Makes A Splash: At 1:54 a diver springs into the lake over Julie Christensen’s right shoulder.  As a guide, the screen capture is shown below with the diver’s body circled in red and Photoshopped into high contrast.

3. In My Secret Life (Official Video)

Before viewers start looking up the correct spelling of “philistine” for that angry email, I should point out that I do know that this video, directed by Floria Sigismondi, has been lauded at film festivals and is beloved by fans.

On the other hand, c’mon – it’s pretty funny-odd.

2. Hallelujah (German TV 1985)

The pillars-peeker Hallelujah video  may be the classic funny Leonard Cohen video.  See International Showdown – Title Match For Goofiest Leonard Cohen Music Video.

From Heck Of A Guy post,  BBC Nov 1 Documentary On Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah:

And, of the several versions of Cohen performances of Hallelujah available on YouTube and its congeners, I’ve picked the one from the German TV program with the Miami Vice-era Cohen2 in his unbuttoned doubled breasted jacket singing with dead leaves blowing across stage in front of the pseudo-ruins with the multiple archways through which the adolescent backup singers, in a manner not unlike that exemplified by zombies in a low cost teen exploitation flick, step into view to sing and sway.

1. First We Take Manhattan (German TV 1988)

For laugh out loud funny, however, the French German farce version of  First We Take Manhattan is the prizewinning entry. See International Showdown – Title Match For Goofiest Leonard Cohen Music Video. This excerpt is from  Heck Of A Guy post  Leonard Cohen In French Farce Version Of First We Take Manhattan:

Leonard Cohen Video Or Saturday Night Live Skit Gone Bad?

There are a number of points worth watching in this odd video of First We Take Manhattan which was originally shown on French TV in or shortly after 1988 and which appeared today on YouTube German TV on February 17, 1988.3

The set itself (shown above) is – well, let’s call it striking, a 1980s decorator’s dream composition in glass, mirrors, chrome, stainless steel, and all things bright and shiny.

The big question, however, is “Who are those two women with the big hair who assist Leonard Cohen in miming and pantomiming the song – and who lose the three-handed arm wrestling championship to him?”

Yes, they dance, too.

Très groovy.

  1. There are plenty more nicknames where those came from – see Leonard Cohen, AKA … – The Nicknames []
  2. Yep, Leonard Cohen played a role in Miami Vice. See Item #9 of Ten Items About Leonard Cohen and, for the real (fake) story, Item #8 of 10 Unbelievable Secrets About Leonard Cohen []
  3. Update 26 June 2011: Thanks to for uploading the improved First We Take Manhattan video now shown below from German TV. []

2 responses to “The 5 Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos

  1. Is LC wiping away a tear at 3:40 on ‘Manhatten’? The Secret Life one is just indearingly quirky, the others are so 80’s. Thanks for a diversion when I should be outworking in the heat.

  2. Christine Roberts

    While I would certainly call No. 3 funny if not odd, I think 1 and 2 are provocative and very watchable. 4 rates as’nice’ though not my fvourite version and 5 is my favourite version of Manhattan!-thanks Dr. H.