17 Mar: The Original Sad Clown

Joseph Grimaldi, the most famous clown in Britain, made his final appearance at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 17th March, 1829 – the very venue where he’d made his stage debut as a toddler in his father’s variety act. He was 48.

Crippled with rheumatism, he told his adoring audience: “It is four years since I jumped my last jump, filched my last oyster, boiled my last sausage and set in for retirement.”

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly perform a thigh-slapping round of his hit drinking song ‘Hot Codlins’; explore why Grimaldi’s innovations were so influential for all ‘clownkind’; and recall how tragedy was a constant companion for this theatrical legend…

Further Reading:

• ‘Books: The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian by Andrew McConnell Stott (The Guardian, 2009): https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/dec/19/simon-callow-biography-grimaldi-review

• ‘Joseph Grimaldi Factsheet’ (It’s Behind You!, The Magic of Pantomime): http://www.its-behind-you.com/Factsheets/Joseph%20Grimaldi%20Factsheet.pdf

• ‘Grimaldi: 150 Years On’ (Thames News, 1987):

Content warning: child abuse, staged suicide.

#Victorian #Theatre #Sad #UK #London

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