Sunday, March 01, 2009

Professional Regurgitator

So I have a lot of dvds I haven't watched yet. I'm one of those people that collects things and then never uses them. In the case of dvds, it simply never occurs to me to sit down and watch a movie. It never enters my mind. When I'm on my own, I gravitate to wandering through RSS feeds or YouTube or something, never simply sitting in front of the tv.

So the other day I decided to pop a dvd into the computer and watch it in a little window while I was working on Photoshopping some stuff for a DSI gig. The dvd in question was a documentary on vaudeville hosted by Ben Vereen. It was a good overview of the life of a vaudevillian and the history of the art form itself, with rare clips of footage from various vaudeville stars (and non-stars). I found one particularly intriguing act on YouTube, one of the clips that was on the dvd. This is Hadji Ali, who was what vaudevillians labelled a "professional regurgitator". His act consisted of him swallowing things and bringing them back up.

One of the reasons I'm so fascinated by this act is that it seems, at first blush, to be so ridiculous. Did people in the Depression really spend their hard-earned two bits to see a guy swallow stuff and then bring it back up again? Is that entertainment? The other reason I'm fascinated by this act is that, yes, it is entertainment. Hadji Ali has a great act, unusual though it is, and I kept my eyes glued to his performance, and was rewarded for my virtue with a stunning finale. Go watch Hadji Ali, you'll be glad you did.

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