Fred Karno
A rare British theatre poster Fred Karno's Comedians in Mumming Birds! An Up-to-date Travesty on the Modern Music Hall, Argyle Theatre Of Varieties, Birkenhead, Monday, 15 July, 1907
35x11in. (89x28cm.)
JOHNSON, Paul Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward, New York: Harper Collins, 2010, p. 139

Lot Essay

Fred Karno (1866-1941), credited with inventing the 'custard pie in the face' gag, headed a speechless theatrical touring company which included a young Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Probably their most successful sketch was the Mumming Birds, a show within a show that featured chaotic acts being abused by a stage audience, including an angry drunk, often played by Chaplin or Laurel. Laurel later described the company as one of the most fantastically funny acts ever known - probably the greatest ensemble of the century.

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