Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sepia Saturday 161: Slipping and Sliding

I have no photos that remotely relate to the scene above. After sitting on my prat (see below) tossing around a bunch of different subjects to write about and studying the food displayed in the shop, the humorous aspect of bananas began to get rooted in my brain. I wondered where, when and particularly why it became funny to slip on a peel.

Imagine this. Man walks into the Dughi store, buys a banana (one of the first, easy to eat to-go foods), peels it and carelessly tosses the skin on the street, where it decays and gets slimy. Time passes and Hannah comes strolling along and unwittingly steps on the thing. Limerickists world-wide, in particular the most famous of all, "anonymous" raise their pens:

There was a young lady named Hannah,
      Who slipped on a peel of banana.
          More stars she espied
          As she lay on her side
      Than are found in the Star Spangled Banner.
      A gentleman sprang to assist her;
      He picked up her glove and her wrister;
          "Did you fall, Ma'am?" he cried;
          "Did you think," she replied,
      "I sat down for the fun of it, Mister?"

Sliding Billy Watson from

Legend has it that a vaudevillian, "sliding" Billy Watson, witnessed someone slipping, someone like perhaps Hannah or one of her sisters and I assume, being an unsympathetic arse himself, recognized it's humor potential. He incorporated, into his act, a comedic skit comprised of an exaggerated banana peel slip accompanied by an off-stage rim shot. Audiences thought it was funny - really funny, in fact they went bananas when they saw it. The banana peel slip became ensconced in vaudeville repertory as one of many sure-fire-laugh "pratfalls" (the word prat originating in 16th century Britain and meaning "buttocks"). After more than a century the laughs keep coming over these skits - here's two YouTube tube links.

The oldest I could find:

Harold Lloyd, The Flirt 1917

 In my opinion, the funniest:
  Woody Allen Sleeper 1973

As they caution, we all have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel; before you slip, take the opportunity to read some of this week's superb stories at Sepia Saturday


  1. Pretty funny...all of it. I liked Harold better than Woody but he sure is mean!
    What's a "wrister"?

    1. Wrister is a kind of cuff - kept that bit between the top of the glove and the bottom of the sleeve warm. Harold is a meany.

  2. I like the way your brain going to look for more of this here again!

  3. It's nice to find a Limerick that can be said in mixed company.

    The wrister is, I suppose, the wrist fitted to make the rhyme.

    1. I know there's something critical missing from a clean limerick. My favorite is so bad I only recite it for myself but I laugh every time.

  4. It's surprising how many people have gone bananas this week. I must confess I have never slid on a banana skin - well not yet anyway.

  5. Well, this post certainly has appeal (get it? a peel) Yeah, I'm here through the weekend.

    Another fun SS entry from you! What will you come up with next?

    1. Wendy - the only funny bone in my body came from the Killeen side of my family.

  6. There was this guy from Panama
    Who tripped over a slippery banana.
    He broke his neck while he fell,
    Right in the Panama Canal
    Where he was identified by his bandana.

    1.'re so much better at Limericks than old "anonymous"! As I'm in the food business, I'm moved to reply....

      There was a young man from Savannah
      Who cooked in a very strange manner
      Strung his fruit on a wire
      Then set it on fire
      The result was a blackened banana

    2. Although I don't think I like blackened banana's, I yield to your limerick. It is about time SS sets up a poem section. I'm sure Auntie Miriam would approve.

  7. Shame that Bananarama don't have an appropriate video.

  8. I think the one thing that we Sepians have in common is a curiosity that dreams up odd questions like this. Perhaps we should do a limerick weekend sometime on Sepia Saturday.

  9. Oh this was just too perfect! I especially enjoyed the photos too!

  10. What a fun post. It makes me want to see Sleeper again. I don't remember that bit with the fruits and veggies. Harold Lloyd's makeup is too much.

  11. I wonder how slippery banana peels actually are--but I don't want to test them myself.

    1. I think the peel itself is fairly slippery, but once it starts to decay, that's when the fun begins; they get slimy and lethal.

  12. This is more like a Sepia Saturday Facebook thread - when are you joining us Helen? I loved both the clips and enjoyed the limericks. We both went bananas this week but perhaps we should have linked to Weekend Cooking too!

  13. Loved the history lesson on slipping on banana peels, the Woody Allen and your limierick!

    Fun post,

    Kathy M.