In this edition of Music Hall Studies you will find these great performers. Click on their names for a short taster.
The repertoire of G.H. Macdermott was more political than that of any of the other great music hall stars. In his heyday, music hall concerned itself more with politics than during any other period. Macdermott was part of this trend, but attitudes that were common enough on the halls he took to extremes. In general terms, the halls favoured British imperialism. Macdermott is remembered as the arch-Jingo. In general terms, music hall favoured the Conservatives at the expense of the Liberals, but, whereas most artistes tended to guard against alienating some of their audience by appearing partisan, Macdermott was an unabashed Tory.
Like the White Rabbit created by Lewis Carroll, the diminutive performer hurried onto the brilliantly lit stage, apparently unaware of the eyes that were fixed upon him. But unlike the White Rabbit, he did not immediately disappear from sight, but came to a sudden halt. It was now his turn to inspect the audience with a curious gaze. Satisfied that he was among friends he rattled through a few lines of a song and then started to describe a series of recent misadventures that set the audience roaring with laughter. Such a response was only to be expected for the artist was Dan Leno, once billed as the funniest man on earth.
Back Your Fancy
Back Your Fancy
The world of variety produced some tremendously talented entertainers, one of them, a momentous comic figure, Robb Wilton, now best remembered for his Home Guard sketches that always began: The day war broke out. Before the Second World War, he portrayed bumbling, incompetent officials, a magistrate, perhaps, or a fireman or a police officer. These sketches stand the test of time since dithering bureaucrats, like the poor, will always be with us.