Family holiday entertainment has a tendency to contain what Peter Kay would refer to as “a bit of blue for the dads.” Much like the family feature films in the style of Shrek or Finding Nemo, there is a tendency toward the double entendre which nudges the older members of the audience in the ribs and whispers “Saynomore, saynomore, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.” You need only walk a short distance across the Comedy Carpet to reacquaint yourself with our penchant for tongue-in-cheek humour.
Blackpool Tower’s Circus, a stalwart of our town’s entertainment history since May 1894, has not been a stranger to innuendo. A key figure in its history was Charlie Cairoli, the originator of the Mooky the Clown character which continues to be portrayed by the talented Laszlo Endresz. Charlie was born in 1910 in Italy to a travelling circus family. He first performed at the Tower Circus in 1939, at the time the Second World War broke out, and continued to perform there for 40 years until his retirement, aged 69, in 1979.
From risqué vaudeville songs to saucy seaside postcards, we’ve long combined the innocent and the smutty in our town’s entertainment. This clip of Charlie, performing alongside Tony Blackburn in 1975 is a feast of masked inpropriety, all of it plausibly deniable of course:
Another clip of Charlie performing for ‘Live from the Hippodrome’ showcases his superlative command of physical humour. The timing of his slapstick routines were undeniably funny and a worthy evolution of that other Charlie, of silver screen fame:
Now, 33 years after his death, Blackpool will finally unveil a tribute to the man who was the most famous clown in England. A statue will be unveiled in Stanley Park’s Rose Garden by Charlie’s son, Charlie Jnr (who performed beside his father at the Tower Circus for many years) this Sunday 21 April at 2pm. The location of the statue is not without controversy, as the Facebook event page reveals, but Stanley Park is certainly lacking in statues at present.
While the town’s promoters are trying to steer away from the prolific abundance of stag and hen nights, toward entertainment which is focused on families, they might want to consider that traditionally our entertainers have managed to cater for both crowds. After all, without the former, the latter might not exist.
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