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Scott Paulson’s collection of kazoos at UC San Diego’s Geisel Library

January 28 is National Kazoo Day in the U.S. :-)

Yes, we DO things like that! ;-)

Maybe that’s why the world does not always take us seriously….

Scott Paulson, the outreach coordinator of the Geisel Library (…named after Dr. Seuss, of course! Look at the photo!) at the University of California San Diego, brought his personal collection of kazoos to the library for a free exhibit, “The Kazoo: More than Just an Annoying Party Favor,” that runs through January 30! He teaches visitors that to achieve the proper sound with a kazoo, one must hum into the mouthpiece! According to UTSanDiego.com:

About 50 kazoos of varying shape and size are displayed in glass cases in the lower-level arts library, in the west wing of the building. Among them is a Popeye-themed kazoo made to look like a corncob pipe, another shaped like a tractor and a jaunty number with a little toy man who dances when the instrument is played.

“The surprise is how many kinds there are,” said Paulson, 53, a 1984 UCSD graduate.

In addition to those branded with Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Tank Engine or Woody Woodpecker, Paulson has a kazoo emblazoned with an image of the Osmond brothers. One of the more valuable items in his collection bears the name of bandleader Spike Jones, whose satirical songs from the 1940s and 1950s often featured cowbells, whistles and other unusual sounds.

The kazoo, which usually consists of a cylindrical body with a resonating membrane inside, has African origins and first gained attention in the United States around the 1840s, Paulson said. It stuck around, showing up at children’s parties and in the occasional pop song. He noted that Jimi Hendrix played a makeshift kazoo in the song “Crosstown Traffic.”

“In small doses I think they’re charming,” he said.

Paulson has had exhibits featuring toy pianos and the theremin, which were intended to attract patrons to the building. He is known for his whimsy and also plays the 74-bell carillon from atop the library building. Paulsen will also host a special event from noon until 1 PM on January 28, National Kazoo Day, to feature kazoo music and fun facts.

More importantly, every visitor to the exhibit this month will get a brightly colored plastic kazoo to take home!

-Bill at

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