Chickens have always beeen a significant part in the history of vaudeville, carnivals, and ramshackle roadside attractions. They play tic-tac-toe, (known as Chick-tac-toe), dance (with the aid of an electrified floor), and have their head bitten off by geeks. But none ever achieved the skill of Clucko, the Mezmorizing Chicken.
Every chicken farmer and aficionado knows that chickens can easily be hypnotized by simply drawing a line on the ground. Which is what Hiram Gohmert attempted one day while amusing his idiot son, Louie. Clucko, however, failed to fall under a spell, and Hiram dropped the chick and went back into the house. When he emerged an hour or so later, he found Clucko scratching the ground, and Louie stunned and goggled eyed. He watched as the chicken made the hypnotized Louie dance, sing silly songs, impersonate an Irishman and, as this picture shows, smoke a cigarette.
Hiram, who always had aspirations to showbiz, auditioned Clucko and Louie for Alexander Pantages who immediately put him on his vaudeville circuit. The act was a hit. Hiram would walk strut out from the wings with his prized chicken and slack jawed son and place them on the stage. While Louie would stare at the lights and audience with a dull and confused expression as if suddenly found himself in a strange, foreign land, Clucko would spring into action, scratching the floor in front of Louie, hypnotizing him, and while in his trance put him through a series of demonstrations such as convincing him his chair was blazing hot, causing him to leap up and slap his behind, and then that Louie was being attacked by a swarm of bees, when, to peals of laughter bellowing from the audience, he would run terrified around the stage swatting frantically at the air until Clucko awakened him.
Alas, at the height of his fame, Clucko’s career was cut short in Seattle when the booker had him share a dressing room with Swain’s Rats and Cats. Feathers and fur flew as Clucko went after a rat and a cat went after Clucko. Such is showbiz.
Many inventors live the by motto, “Sure it works, but what if you could use it without your hands?” Telephones, doors, umbrellas that double as hats, umbrellas strapped to the body Baby Bjorn-style, and countless other inventions have succumbed to the siren song of “Hands free.” So it is no surprise that trimming one’s beard also became a candidate for streamlining. Inventor Morton Splink is shown demonstrating how someone can be relieved from the burden of lifting a pair of scissors and snipping hairs. Introduced to the public in 1961, the Beard-o-Trim-o was a failure. The machinery, if it did fit on your bathroom countertop, took up all available space. It was not water proof and prone to shorting out by minimal amounts of splashing from the sink. It was also expensive, costing nearly $250.00, which Splink claimed would be a “minimal investment, considering a ragged beard has been the reason for many men being denied promotion to higher paying jobs.” The Bread-o-Trim-o was also voice activated (note microphone on left), an addition which Splink said made the device truly hands free as one did not have to even flip a switch. Splink is shown here moments before giving the command to “Start Trimming,” which was followed by “Stop! Stop! You’re cutting my chin off!” which was interpreted by the device as “Faster! Faster! Don’t switch off.” Humiliated, chinless, and apparently driven mad by the incident, Splink spent the rest of his days in seclusion, only venturing out when wearing a fake beard of his own design made from a rancid string mop.
Walking is a wonderful form of exercise, and the preferred way to see a city or countryside. And while leisurely perambulation is enjoyable, sometimes you just need to get to where ever you’re going, and pronto.
If you every thought that your face might be slowing you down, you are correct. In what can only be described as a mistake in our evolution, our face is not aerodynamic, which explains why it is so easy to get captured and mauled while running away from escaped tigers. One can only imagine how wide and jug eared our ancestor’s heads must have been, as they died out and our heads are still ill equipped to outrun marauding felines. If not for hungry tigers millions of years ago, we all might have heads shaped like a Costco sized box of corn flakes.
Fortunately, science is there to take over when evolution fails us. Pictures above are two women fitted with the Urban Walking Cone. As they make their way along the sidewalk, they will notice their speed increased by 1.5% over that of similar non-coned walkers. Plus, the pointy design is excellent for nudging tourists out of the way, who, having nothing better to do, invariably clog the sidewalk four abreast while being awe stuck and motionless at the sight of buses powered by overhead wires, and a McDonald’s next to strip club.
All penguins are native to countries south of the equator, which has made it a chore for countries in the Northern Hemisphere to acquire the flightless birds. Since they are a major draw for the public, ranking just below tiger cubs and mating pandas, it is important that zoos always have a fresh stock of penguins on hand. To make sure they are never short of penguins, a zoo in Kaunas, Lithuania has successfully created a penguin that grows from seeds. By combining penguin DNA with the genetic material of a ficus, scientists produce a black and white seed the size of a golf ball, which, with proper water and sunlight, will produce a living penguin in as little as six weeks. These pictured her are roughly 4 weeks old, and still have roots attached to their feet, rending them immobile. The site of a penguin pulling up roots and taking their first steps is usually witnessed by large crowds, who gather round the clock to be present at the moment the penguin’s first adorable waddle.
The story of overcoming great odds to achieve success is an inspiration to all. One legged tap dancers and armless men who can roll their own cigarette motivate those not so burdened to focus energies to reach goals, to shut up and stop complaining, or perhaps further drive you to bitterness because in spite of having no physical handicap your greatest accomplishment is that time you parallel parked perfectly.
This is Hyram P. Goldapple, who, despite being 18 inches tall, founded one of the most successful bathroom fixture companies in America. He insisted on no special furnishings or equipment (except for his clothes, which were tailored made by the Hasbro Toy company), and became skilled at using a cane to climb or vault into chairs and reach doorknobs.
He was well loved by his employees, and instituted a number of workplace policies that were considered radical in the 1920’s, when the company flourished. He had casual Fridays, where worker were allowed to loosen their ties. His flextime gave workers the option of coming into work at 8 or 8:15am. And he allowed his employees to bring dogs to work.
Unfortunately, the dog-friendly policy caused Goldapple’s demise, when a secretary’s jack-terrier mistook him for a chew toy.
Cheesy magicians beware: rabbits have had enough. Or at least Snuggles here has. After being stuffed into, and pulled out of, a smelly top hat 3 shows a night in Reed VanKirby’s Magical Comedy Laff Time Show, (the “bestest funtastic magical show in all Branson, Missouri,” according to Retired and On the Road magazine), Snuggles snapped. While Reed was pretending to pull a length of colored silks from a woman’s blouse, the angry bunny pushed a small but powerful cannon next to the tuxedoed prestidigitator. Snuggles fired a load of confetti and rabbit pellets into VanKirby’s eyes. Blinded, he stumbled off stage and fell onto one of the many fold-up walkers in the front row, cracking several ribs. The audience applauded wildly, as it was the most entertaining thing they had seen all evening. VanKirby was fired, and Snuggles offered a 5-year contract.
These days foie gras has two strikes against it. More and more cities are banning its sale, and when you can find it, it’s expensive. So what is a gourmand with a taste for internal organs to do?
Science to the rescue! Knowing that the liver is the only human organ that can regenerate itself from damage, the scientists at Stuffit Labs (“Go Stuff Yourself—with your own liver!”) developed a way for diners to have their foie gras and eat it too.
Just like the geese they love to eat, foodies who sign up for the service are force fed until their liver is bloated. Then a surgeon cuts way 20% of their fatty, overstuffed organ, ready to be sautéed with some good olive oil and served on bed of arugula.
A couple weeks later, the liver has regenerated itself, ready to stuffed, and harvested again. And the miracle of foie gras continues, like the circle of fatty life.
I am often asked, “Sebastian, how can I develop a mind as fantastically amazing and highly developed as yours?” The true answer is that, though my devotion to discipline and study could be duplicated, my superior intellect and inherent skills make reaching my level of mental achievement an impossibility for most people. It is the same as the star baseball pitcher or mambo king who possess a quality which eludes most of us, no matter how diligently we hone our curve ball or loosen our hips.
But that does not mean that improvement above the ordinary is out of reach. Quite the contrary. Since most humans consider any sort of effort to be avoided like a flesh-eating virus, advancement to the realm of “superior” in most any field of endeavor is possible for anyone.
That includes training one’s mind to be able to perform feats that boarder on impossible. However, as with all training, one should start slowly, gaining confidence with small incremental steps. Mesmerizing household furniture is a great way to start. I suggest beginning with chairs (as I did), then advancing to a courting bench or fainting couch. If none are available, then a sofa or Barcalounger will suffice. Once one is proficient at hypnotizing large pieces of furniture, it is time to move on to living things of a lower order, such as gastropods and shellfish.
It is true that the human brain is mostly fat and water, which is why drinking buttered water will make you smarter. However, the addition of albumen, or egg whites, and Phosphate of Potash, otherwise known as Potassium Phosphate, otherwise known as salts of potassium and phosphate ions, to the buttered water will only make the concoction undrinkable. I speak from experience.
I don’t just post when I am performing in a theater festival. I have been traveling extensively, and can imagine how poor the internet reception is deep in Himalayas.
I am honored to be a part of the FringeNYC international Theater Festival. I shall be performing at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place.
5 shows only. For tickets, click on the date you wish to attend.
Sat. Aug 15th @ 7pm, Tues Aug 18th 3:30pm, Thurs Aug 20th @ 5:15pm , Saturday 22nd @ 3:30pm, Mon. Aug 24th @ 7pm.
This Side of the Impossible at FringeNYC