Otters Oddities

Bonjour. Mon nom est Joseph Pujol, et j'aime l'odeur de ma propre merde.

We'll get back to that French in a moment. But first, the answer to yesterdays Made Up Monday!

I lied. Again. Ben Thompson didn't come up with any kind of variant for the snow plow. In fact, as far as I know, he never even shoveled snow in his life. He probably did, but that's not the kind of thing history tells us about people.

FYI, the grater/plow I described was a real thing. It was first manufactured by a company called Good Roads in 1889. The first motorized plow was also built by Good Roads in 1913. By the 1920, 3 out of 4 plows being used in the US were made by Good Roads.

But anyway, back to our French.

For those of you who don't speak French, the man up there is named Joseph Pujol. And he was a star of the stage in France, and most of Europe, in the late 1800's and early 1900's. In fact, he was the headlining act at the Moulin Rouge in Paris for many years.

But, you will not have heard of him under his real name. On stage, he went my the name, 'Le Petomane'. And his act was so popular, it sold out almost every night. People paid to see him preform in private. In fact, the King of Belgium travelled to Paris to see one of the private shows.

What talent did he have that made people want to see him?

He started his career as a baker. Yup. He baked things like bread and cakes. But is was when he was called up to military service that his talents finally came to the surface. He would preform for his companions, and they enjoyed it so much, he began to take his talent seriously, and began practicing. By the time he left the service, he was highly skilled.

He began preforming in the city he lived in, Marseilles, and quickly became so popular, that he left the bakery to his family and began reforming full time. His popularity in Marseilles led him to travel to Paris, where he auditioned at the Moulin Rouge.

The manager of the Moulin Rouge wasn't really looking for someone with his talents, but decided to give him an audition anyway. He signed him up on the spot. His act was so popular among the audiences that it wasn't long before he was the main act, and people came from all over Europe to see him.

But, what exactly was his talent? To find that out, we need to go back into Josephs childhood.

When he was a boy, his family went on holiday to the sea. Joseph was frolicking in the water when he decided to play under water. He submerged himself, and holding his breath, felt a cold sensation spreading around his rear section. This frightened him. He quickly exited the water, and was shocked to feel water draining out his anus.

He went to the doctor who gave him a thorough once-over, and declared him fine. There was nothing out of the ordinary. The doctor told him not to worry. But Joseph did worry. So, he kept his strange ability to himself.

Until he served in the military. Soldiers, being the young men they are, like to have fun. So one day, Joseph told his fellow soldiers about his amazing skill. They asked him for a demonstration. So, Joe got a basin of water and dropped his drawers. He placed his gluteus maximus in the water and proceeded to suck up the contents of the basin, then standing up, shoot the water several feet behind him.

The soldiers loved it. They thought it was one of the funniest things they had ever seen. So, Joe began practicing. He got so he could put out a candle at 10 feet. Then, one day, he had an idea. What if he didn't use water! After a bit of experimentation and practice, Joe found he could suck up air just like he could water. And he could expel that air with amazing amounts of control.It wasn't long before he had a whole repertoire of farts.

Farts for every occasion.

  • A little girl fart. (pfft)
  • A bride on her wedding night (poot)
  • Same bride the next morning (BRRRPPPTPTPTPTPT)
  • An old man (pffffrrrt)
  • Wet ones
  • Dry ones
  • Long ones
  • Short ones

But, he didn't just fart. No, he did impressions, as well. He could imitate rolling thunder, or the crack of a canon. He could mimic barnyard animals. And, he could play music. He would either alter the pitch of the fart, (O Solo Mio), or connect a rubber tube to his anus and an Ocarina. (La Marseillaise)

His run at the Moulin Rouge only lasted for a couple of years, though. Joe was, by all accounts, a very nice and generous man. He had a friend who was down on his luck, so Joe held an impromptu performance where he passed a hat for his friend. The management of the Moulin Rouge didn't like that, since they held his contract. They sued Joe and were awarded 3,000 Francs. This made Joe mad, so after paying the fine, he left and started his own traveling show, Theatre Pompadour.

He continued on, traveling, and farting, until the outbreak of World War One. The atrocities he saw disturbed him so much, he retired and went back to his bakery in Marseille.

Joseph died in 1945, at the age of 88. His grave is still open to the public if you want to go visit. The doctors at the Sorbonne requested permission to examine his body after his death, but the family refused.

We think about what Le Petomane did for a living, and many people today are shocked. They don't understand how a man could not only make a living, but actually become wealthy, just by farting in public. Those of us who know, realize that farts are funny. And, they were funny back then, too. People laughed because it was understood that, everyone farts, but this man could not only fart at will, but manipulate those farts. Besides, they weren't true farts. they were air. Many people preformed a smell test to verify they weren't stinky.

Joseph Pujol's life taught us many things:

  • Follow your dreams
  • Don't discourage a talent, no matter what it is
  • Farts are funny

After reading this, you might be saying to yourself, "Boy, I sure do wish I could have enjoyed a performance by Le Petomane!"

Well, you're in luck. In 1904, someone recorded one of his performances. You can hear it here.

*Authors Note*

While farts are funny, if they are stinky farts, keep them to yourself. The sound is funny. The smell is not. And if you ever crop dust me, I have a pair of size 10, steel toed, Doc Martens that will find there way up your poot chute. Both of them. At the same time. That's my talent.