24 November 2014

Sparks & son

Following on from the previous post, the above is a photograph of Professor Sparks's Washing the Electric Baby routine taken from the Voltini website. This dates from 1932, though the act was still being performed around 1950, which is when Freddie first saw it and saw Professor Sparks's son falling upstairs.

The son is the tall man in the bowler hat above; he would have been about eighteen when the picture was taken and around thirty six when Freddie first saw him doing the comedy fall.

In his autobiography Freddie laments the fact that he and a pal thought they would be earning a fiver, at least, when they agreed to act as stooges for Professor Sparks for a week, pretending to wash the "baby" which jiggled about as they did so. In the end all they got was ten bob - but the experience, as Freddie says, was "priceless": 
 I didn't realise it at the time but when I was watching acts like these I was actually soaking everything in and learning it. When Professor Sparks' son fell up the stairs and things, subconsciously that taught me how to do it.
And whatever the disappointments of that initial payment, to be performing a comedy fall sixty four years on from when you first saw it seems a pretty good overall return.

Buy Freddie Davies's autobiography Funny Bones from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback)