So lololong, Mr. Trololo, and thanks for the laughs

YouTube sensation Eduard Khil, known to millions as Mr. Trololo for a super-shmaltzy 1976 vocal performance, has passed away at 77.

If he didn't put you in stitches, only surgery could.

Russian crooner Eduard Khil, the subject of one of the most popular YouTube memes of recent years, passed away today at age 77, according to the Associated Press.

His gut-splitting 1976 performance of "I Am Glad 'Cause I'm Finally Returning Back Home" has racked up more than 12 million views since it became widely known on YouTube in 2010, eventually spawning countless parodies.

Khil didn't seem to mind the parodies. Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

He was known online as Mr. Trololo due to the mighty yodeling crescendos of meaningless syllables he sang instead of the song's original lyrics.

Written by Arkady Ostrovsky, the words evoke images of an American cowboy, a theme that wasn't appreciated by Soviet censors in the 1970s. So Khil decided to simply vocalize the melody, and parts ended up sounding like "trololo."

More than the singing itself, though, it was Mr. Trololo's broad smile, an absolute rictus of delight, plus his bizarre mannerisms and tacky suit, and the accompanying elevator music, that had many viewers gasping for breath from gales of laughter.

I laughed so hard that I cried when I first watched it. My sister's friend had dubbed the video "Stalin's last executioner" for its sheer awfulness.

But Khil was no Russian Idol wannabe. Born in Smolensk in 1934, he earned a People's Artist Award, the Order for Merit to the Fatherland, and other accolades. He toured widely before the Internet caught up with him.

He took his new fame in stride, appearing on Russian TV, giving impromptu renditions, concerts, and quipping that he hadn't earned a kopeck from all the merchandise the video has spawned.

He apparently enjoyed the parodies, though, especially one by Christoph Waltz.

One of my favorites is Peter Coffin's absurd "Trolzillalolol," which depicts Mr. Trololo as a city-ravaging monster. "Family Guy" also did a send-up in which he appears as a waiter at the local bar.

Khil died in Saint Petersburg after suffering a stroke in April.

If nothing else, the original performance gave some of us better material than ever for singing in the shower. But whether you were laughing at him or with him, the one thing Eduard Khil brought us all was unbridled joy.

Thanks Mr. Trololo, and may yodels of angels sing thee to thy rest.

 

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