This is how light verse, normally held printed-precious between covers, seeped into the consciousness of tired businessmen (and their female companions) out for a Broadway good time after a full dinner…
Unbeknownst to the average musical comedy patron of the 1920s there was an elite underground of would-be poets posing as lyric writers insidiously slipping smart verse into their escapist songs—verse that usually was only found in the smart set magazines of the casual-clever New York intelligentsia, Round Table Algonquin characters in old tweed jackets and floppy bow-ties.
Larry Hart and Ira Gershwin, inspired by Victorian Britishers Gilbert & Sullivan and by their contemporary master P.G Wodehouse, were part of a new antsy breed of college-educated songmen who dared to rhyme “Heine” with “China” and employ feminine rhymes and sprung rhythms.
But until the arrival of the thinking-man’s musical, the serious story-based Show Boat (1927) the new kids had to be content to sling their literary hash into frothy and silly (but eminently entertaining) musical comedies. The Gershwin’s Girl Crazy (1930) is a good latter-day example, a jolly Wild West sure-fire formula show---following a failed attempt to be meaningfully serious and topical. Gags and gals had won again and why not? For the songs were sophisticated and full of witty lines, hard-wired to be future standards: “Embraceable You”, “I Got Rhythm”. High Seriousness and Integrated Musicals could wait till the clouds rolled by.