The four original panellists were adept at this game, and each took an individual turn. Since the death of Willie Rushton guest panellists have appeared, and the two team members occasionally sing together, presumably to compensate for the unsteadiness of a guest's voice. Guest panellists sometimes exhibit little or no musical talent, most notably Jeremy Hardy, whose dreadful attempts at singing are greatly anticipated by audiences, and this itself often makes for effective comedy.
The panellists also sometimes impersonate a singer associated with one of the songs (usually the tune). In several episodes, Graeme Garden was given a song with a tune by Bob Dylan and not only impersonated him, but broke off into a harmonica solo. Notably "How much is that Doggy in the Window", to "Blowing in the Wind".
Some of the humour derives from the incongruity caused by differences between the songs involved. They may differ wildly in genre, structure, tempo, and time signature, but unlikely combinations have sometimes worked surprisingly well. Examples include:
A contribution to the effectiveness of the rendition is made by the pianist (usually Colin Sell) who, given the uneven rhythm of the vocalists, often has a much more difficult task than is usually required from an accompanist.
In later episodes of ISIHAC, these monologues generally took the form of contorted analogies, ending with an extremely contrived and obvious joke at Colin Sell's expense. For example, from December 2006:
The humour here being derived from the word 'sod' not only meaning turf, but also being British slang for an idiot.
Internet-based fans have taken the silliness a step further, in true ISIHAC style, by playing the game in text-based media, such as USENET and email. Liberal use of punctuation can give readers a hint of how the metre is being applied to the lyrics.
The Australian television comedy program Spicks and Specks features a segment "Substitute", where a panelist sings a well-known tune substituting words from an unrelated text (usually a technical text like "Datsun 180B Service Manual" or "2004 Australian Government Tax Pack"), and the remaining team-mates attempt to guess the name of the song. The host, Adam Hills sang the Australian National Anthem to the tune of the Rock and Roll classic, Working Class Man, in one case accompanied by the latter's singer, Jimmy Barnes.
The Scared Weird Little Guys, an Australian comedy duo perform a similar vein of songs weekly on The Cage, the breakfast show on Triple M in Melbourne and Sydney. In their segment, "Stump the Scardies", listeners email in suggestions of songs to sing in another tune and the duo get about five minutes preparation time — usually just enough to find the guitar chords and lyrics online. This segment occurs weekly at 0845 AEST on Tuesdays.
In 1989 "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies", the lyrics of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" (theme from The Beverly Hillbillies) to the music of the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing".
A serious example of the principle behind this game was Cliff Richard's "Millennium Prayer", in which he sang the Lord's Prayer to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" (the Clue team retaliated in the 1999 Christmas special by performing "Auld Lang Syne" to the tune of "Bachelor Boy" and vice versa). Also in recent popular culture bootlegging and bastard pop have taken is a step further, employing the practice of laying down vocals from one track over the music from another.