A mighty wind at his back

>> Sunday, July 11, 2010

I tell you what, just when you think you've heard it all. The other day, I'm online and trying to remember how to spell the name of Mel Brooks' (primary) character in Blazing Saddles, Governor William J. LePetomane, and I inevitably stumble across the fact--which you may already know--that the character was named after a real person.

"Le Pétomane," was the stage name of Joseph Pujol, France's premier fartist during the latter part of the 19th and early years of the 20th Centuries.

Yes, fartist. Le Pétomane, whose name Wikipedia informs us roughly translates from French to English as "The Fartaholic" (I'd prefer to translate it less faithfully as "The Farting Maniac," myself), became world-famous for a stage show in which he would take to the stage and fart loudly and tunefully. Well, sort of tunefully: Cecil at The Straight Dope tells us that Le Pétomane could hit four notes (one of them the octave of the first, so maybe we should count it as a half-note), and that he also did impersonations (e.g. a bride's fart) and stunts (like blowing out candles).

Apparently, according to Wikipedia and Straight Dope, Le Pétomane's shows were attended by the likes of Edward, Prince Of Wales and King Leopold II of Belgium, who evidently liked this sort of thing when he wasn't slaughtering Congolese by the millions. (Would it be completely distasteful to write a story about Leopold sneaking into Le Pétomane's performance and call it "Fart Of Darkness"? Yes. Yes, it would.)

I am really uncertain about what to do with this information; I mean, besides sharing it with you, dear readers. Should we take the fact that Le Pétomane was a popular entertainer as a sign that people were more easily amused a century-plus ago than they are today in our sophisticated era of Adam Sandler movies and YouTube nutshot videos, or as further proof of the axiom, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"? Should we use it as some sort of metaphor for Glenn Beck and his ilk, wittily observing that audiences continue to be enthralled by a man blowing it out his ass in front of a crowd, but at least in the old days they wanted him to be able to carry a tune?

Or perhaps all of you already knew about this and are wondering how I could go all these years without knowing of the legendary Le Pétomane and his magical ass? To which I can only reply: I'm sorry... I never caught wind of it.

Have a good Sunday, people.


8 comments:

Tom Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 12:55:00 PM EDT  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 12:56:00 PM EDT  

Eric, thanks for this. I especially liked the Glenn Beck metaphor. "Blowing it out his ass" from his front!

But, if I remember rightly, LePetomane didn't take part in the famous Fart Scene. I wonder why not?

It puts me in mind of a young child who misheard, and, when asked how someone died, he said, "I think it was a fart attack!"

Forgive the deletion. Horrible misspelling.

Jeff Hentosz Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 1:04:00 PM EDT  

"'LePetomaine Thruway'!? Now, what'll that asshole think of next? Has anybody got a dime? Somebody's gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes."

Jeri Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 1:19:00 PM EDT  

Ah, Eric, again - you entertain us well. Thanks for not including an audio track for this post, we do appreciate that.

John the Scientist Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 3:03:00 PM EDT  

Jeri, sadly, he was never recorded. However, an imitator of his was, in 1904.

I live to serve. :D

John the Scientist Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 3:05:00 PM EDT  

He is also the inspriation for Scalzi's fart joke in the first chapter of "The Android's Dream".

Which is how he first came to my attention.

Warner (aka ntsc) Monday, July 12, 2010 at 8:44:00 AM EDT  

In the Butch Karp series, by Tanenbaum, one of the early books has a character who can fart in tune. I think it is in 'No Lesser Plea' at the party of the new Manhattan DA.

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