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In Vaudeville theatre ...

In Vaudeville theatre (which was increasing in popularity as banana peels were becoming a common hazard on the streets of North American cities), the comedian with the highest billing in a show would be awarded a banana in recognition of his position as "Top Banana." This seems appropriate because the banana has a humorous quality that is reflected in the way that "slipping on a banana peel" has become a cliche in comedy. What is funny about that anyhow? Charlie Chaplin, who has been honored on many stamps from around the world (fig.37) was the first to use the banana peel trope on film in By the Sea (1915), did not see the source of the humour as being in the misfortune of a person slipping on a banana. When asked whether the fat lady or the banana should appear first a gag in which a fat lady is walking down the street, slips on a banana peel and falls down, Chaplin said, "You show the fat lady approaching; then you show the banana peel; then you show the fat lady and the banana peel together; then she steps over the banana peel and disappears down a manhole." The entertainment is in the surprise.

Painted Stork Nests

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© Derrick Grose, 2021