Sunday, May 07, 2006
200 Years Later, Reality TV Filled The Void.
In London, in the summer of 1785, the Amazing Learned Pig was star:
In a building just off Whitehall near Charing Cross, gentlemen and "women of the first Fashion waited four hours for their turn" to enter and pay five shillings, later reduced to one shilling, for a thirty-minute exhibition. Using its mouth, a large trained pig arranged cards bearing letters and numbers to give the date and the time, to add and subtract, to tell people their names and their thoughts, and to answer questions. It enjoyed so much success in "the polite end of town" that its owner took it on the stage in the summer of 1785. The Learned Pig became the headline act at Sadler's Wells Theatre. Skilled acrobats and tightrope dancers performing there "made great objections" to being reduced to a warm-up act for a pig. The manager did not try to keep them from leaving. He could readily find other tumblers; the Learned Pig was a star.Charles Royster, The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company 308 (Knopf, 1999).
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