|I Love to Singa|
The cartoon depicts the story of a young owlet who wants to sing jazz instead of indulging in his parents more traditional and stodgy tastes, such as "Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes" to piano accompaniment. The owlet is kicked out of the house by his disciplinary father, Fritz Owl, and he runs off to enter a radio amateur contest. Fritz's wife hears her son on the radio, and she and the rest of the family go to see their son. When the owlet finds out about his family's presence, he starts singing "Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes". The radio show host is then about to activate the trap door, until Fritz suddenly realizes his son's true potential and allows him to freely sing jazz. The owlet receives first prize for the contest. As the cartoon irises out, the first place trophy still remains on the black screen, but not til Owl Jolson reopens the screen and takes it back.
The cartoon is loaded with throwaway jokes, a technique which would soon become Avery's trademark:
- While waiting for his eggs to hatch, Fritz Owl paces up and down until he creates a trench in the floor.
- While kicking his son out of the house, Fritz Owl rants "You hotcha! You crooner! You falsetta! You jazz singer! You...you...you...!" He slams the door, then suddenly reopens it to add "...phooey!"
- The radio show host is a rabbit named Jack Bunny, an obvious reference to Jack Benny or Jack Rabbit. However, the auditions themselves and the moderator's rude dispatch of untalented contestants appear to be a takeoff on another popular radio show of that era, Major Bowes Amateur Hour.
- The radio station call letters are G-O-N-G, another Major Bowes-type reference.
- One of the amateur show contestants is a round chicken/hen. She steps to the microphone, and immediately begins singing in an impossibly tiny voice. The buzzer is rung on her and the trap door that ejects losing contestants is activated, but she is much too wide to fall all the way through the trap door, so she continues singing while stuck in the trap door at the midsection. Jack Bunny takes the matter into his own hands, and swiftly conks the hen across the head with a mallet, knocking her down the trap door.
- The stuttering voice of one contestant (Simple Simon) is provided by Joe Dougherty, who was a real-life stutterer and the first voice of Porky Pig. This is the only cartoon in which his normal voice is heard. (His recordings were sped-up for Porky.)
- While listening to the police band radio broadcast, Fritz's wife worries aloud "I wonder if they found my little boy," to which the policeman heard on the radio replies, "No, we didn't, lady!"
- Twice during the cartoon, Fritz Owl says, "Enough is too much!" which is a malapropism, since "enough," by definition, can not be "too much."
- The first owlet hatched sang the opening bars of "Chi mi frena in tal momento", from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. (Papa Fritz compared him to the great opera singer Enrico Caruso.) Translated in Italian is "Who is holding me back at this time?"
- The second owlet to hatch played the beginning of "Träumerei" by Robert Schumann on the violin. (Papa Fritz compared him to the violinist Fritz Kreisler.)
- The third owlet, a flautist, played the first notes of "Spring Song" by Felix Mendelssohn from his work Songs without Words.
- Owl Jolson is made to sing (badly and off key, due to his loathing of classical music) "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes", the lyrics of which are Ben Jonson's 1616 poem "Song. To Celia." Whenever Mama had to pause playing her piano to turn the sheet music page, Jolson reverted to "I Love to Singa".
- The first known reject in the contest played a few bars of "Listen to the Mocking Bird" on the harmonica.
- The blackbird in the blue jacket played a few bars of "Nola", composed by Felix Arndt, on the saxophone.
- The bird with the accordion briefly played "Turkey in the Straw".
- The dark, operatic bird sang a line from the silent film Laugh, Clown, Laugh, even though the lyrics to the theme song don't have those actual words (this version was later used in "Yankee Doodle Daffy" when Porky Pig opened the door and saw Daffy Duck dressed as the clown singing, then shut the door).
- The overweight bird (voiced by Bernice Hansen) got only a few notes of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" sung before being rejected.
- The country bird (voiced by Joe Dougherty, who was the original voice of Porky Pig) stuttered through the first and almost all of the second verse of the nursery rhyme Simple Simon]before rejecting himself.
- VHS - Cartoon Moviestars Porky!
- LaserDisc - Cartoon Moviestars Daffy and Porky!
- VHS - The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Volume 1
- LaserDisc - The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Volume 1, Side 1
- DVD - Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2, Disc 4 (with original opening and credits)
- Blu-Ray/DVD - Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1, Disc 2
- DVD - The Jazz Singer (USA 1995 dubbed version included as bonus)
- DVD - Happy Feet (USA 1995 dubbed version included as bonus)
When this cartoon was shown on TNT's short-lived series, The Rudy and Gogo Show, two scenes were edited for time constraints :
- Owl Jolson being forced to sing "To Cilia" and interjecting it with "I Love to Singa" before his parents catch him and he gets thrown out of the house.
- Some of the failed auditions for Jack Bunny's radio program.
-  As with many early Warners cartoons, it is in a sense a music video designed to push a song from the Warners library.
- The song in question, "I Love to Singa", was first written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg for the 1936 Warner Bros. feature-length film The Singing Kid. It is performed three times in the film: first by Al Jolson and Cab Calloway, then by the Yacht Club Boys and Jolson, and finally again by Calloway and Jolson. During this period, it was customary for Warners to have their animation production partner, Leon Schlesinger Productions, make Merrie Melodies cartoons based upon songs from their features.
- The short, one of the earliest Merrie Melodies produced in Technicolor's 3-strip process, is recognized as one of Avery's early masterpieces.
- This cartoon is a special feature on the Happy Feet DVD, possibly because both Happy Feet and I Love to Singa have similar plots.
In Popular Culture
The cartoon has, in recent years, taken on something of a cult following:
- In the "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" episode of the adult cartoon South Park, Eric Cartman and Officer Barbrady lapse into Owl Jolson's odd song-and-dance routine whenever they get hit with an alien beam. In general, the excessively rounded faces of the South Park characters echo those of early cartoon characters, including the owls in "I Love to Singa".
- In Warners' 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Owl Jolson's dance sequence from I Love to Singa repeatedly appears on the ACME chairman's video screen, since he cannot properly operate his remote control.
- The song also appears as a Merrie Melodie sung by Gossamer in The Looney Tunes Show episode, "Gribbler's Quest".