Let Me Entertain You

When Robbie Williams sang “Let me entertain you,” he probably had no idea that in the past, one of the most popular entertainers of the day only needed a potato for his act and for the public to give him money. If we go back to the early decades of the twentieth-century, poverty was still a big problem. It meant that those who had virtually nothing, had to come up with ways in order to eat and survive.

    And one of the ways that some people decided upon was entertaining the crowds of the well-to-do queuing up outside theatres each evening before buying a ticket to go inside. The choice of entertainment was varied in the streets. They ranged from artists making a quick drawing of anyone willing to sit and pay for the privilege. Others would sing to the crowds whilst others who were a bit more physical, would do acrobatics or escape from being handcuffed or locked in a box.

Modern Street Entertainer

    But perhaps the person who had the strangest routine was a large Irishman with a bald head and a potato. Yes, there is a connection between the two. This is going to sound crazy and you might say that this is just some urban myth. However, the witness to this who wrote it down was none other than George Orwell who recorded it in his book, “Down and Out in Paris and London,” which was published in 1933.

    So, what was the routine. The entertainer (we do not have his name), would attract the crowd’s attention and then show them a large potato; the bigger the better. Then he would throw it high into the air. He then would position himself under the falling vegetable. Yes, you guessed it. He would let the potato crash on to his bald head. The potato would explode and he would take his hat along the queue and by all accounts, made a decent living out of it.

    Therefore, if any of you are thinking of a company start-up in the entertainment business, then please feel free to copy this idea if you wish. Overheads are a bag of potatoes and a very short haircut. No need to thank me!


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