Saturday, March 24, 2007

WIkipedia - font of all knowledge

Isn't Wikipedia a magnificent invention ?

If Wikipedia was the only thing that existed on the internet then it would still be worthwhile, for too many decades we have been stifled by encyclopedias which contained only knowledge that intellects thought we needed to know - Wikipedia has changed all of that.

And so I bring you, direct from the pages of that magnificent web site, a condensed (in the best readers Digest tradition) biography of one of the greatest music hall entertainers of all time, LePetomane.

LePetomane performed on the French vaudeville stage from the 1890's to the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, stunned and amazed his audiences with his specialist act and like all originals, he has been copied since, but never bettered.

The stage name LePetomane is taken from two French words, "Peter" the verb "to fart" (now think of the fun you'll have with that snippet of knowledge down the pub tonight with your mate Peter) and "Mane" meaning maniac - his name is literally "The Farting Maniac".

Born in Marseilles in 1857 it is said that he discovered an extraordinary talent that only a god could have bestowed when he was still a young child, bathing in the sea he noticed that puting his head underwater and holding his breath would cause water to enter his arse, running ashore and breathing normally again the water would be expelled via the same orifice that it had entered - LePetomane had discovered that he could breath through his arse, or at least if not breath through it, he could inhale through his arse, hold the air in there and then expel it at will - by any other description, farting.

A little later he enjoyed some fame in the army with the ability to suck water from a bucket through a hosepipe up his arse and expel it with a force that would project it for several yards, after leaving the army he became a baker for a while but a talent like his could not lay dormant for long and in 1887 he debut'd a thelocal theatres in Marseilles and by 1892 was taking Paris by storm (literally) as top of the bill at the Moulin Rouge.

Included in his act was the old party trick forcefully expelling water over several yards and blowing out candles from a distance using just a simple fart but the highlight must surely have been the playing of a trumpet via a rubber tube inserted in his anus finishing with a small orchestra played the 1812 Overture with LePetomane provided the thunderous canon retorts at the end - how the ladies loved this sophisticated and educational entertainment - 20,000 francs a night was his fee until one night the manager of the Moulin Rouge caught him performing elsewhere in a benefit gig for a friend and he was sacked.

Unpeturbed he took to the road with his own vaudeville group of trobadours during which he tried to refine his act a little in the belief that his was a course talent, how could he believe such a thing. Farting animal noises to poetry was one idea as was his finale of a farted impression of the 1906 San Fransico earthquake, how I would have loved to have seen that, how could a person pass up an opportunity to see such a spectacle ?

LePetomane didn't perform after the first world war, so horrified was he by the inhumanity of man to man, compared to a life lived farting for a profession war must indeed have come as a huge shock to the system - he died in 1945 and his family turned down a substantial sum of money offered by the Sorbonne to donate his body to medical research and discover his anatomical secret - because of this we will never know how to inhale through our arses and instead must remove our hats in acknowledgement of the master of the expelled draught - LePetomane.

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