With the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over the world, cold war adversaries were nonetheless able to find glimmers of humor. At the opening night of the Moscow Circus, noted Russian clown, Konsantin Berman, demonstrated who had the upper hand in the clown cold war, launching barb after barb in the direction of the United States.
Tossing a boomerang, he likened it to the U.S. Marshall Plan that was pumping economic recovery aid into Western Europe. “American aid to Europe,” he said, “Here is the dollar.” as the boomerang returned to his hand, delighting the audience. Producing a radio that bellowed out the sound of barking dogs, he announced: “That’s the Voice of America.”
Meanwhile American clowns were dumping buckets of water on each other and slipping on banana peels.
Speaking of Banana Peels
The Vagabond King a 1925 operetta by Rudolf Frimi was already an American success when it opened in London on April 19, 1927. It’s success in England was probably assured given its theme of foibles of the French. Its hero is a braggart, thief and rabble-rouser who attempts to steal an aristocratic lady from the king himself. Not only that, he openly mocks the king, boasting about what he would do if he were king. The angry king gives him royal powers for 24 hours — king for a day — during which he must solve all France’s problems or go to the gallows (the guillotine had not yet been invented). He succeeds, wins the lady’s hand and lives happily ever after in exile — probably in England. The operetta was the inspiration for a couple of movies and, of course, the popular radio and television program “Queen for a Day.”
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