Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts - Le Pétomane: The French Flatulist

October 28, 2016

Who doesn’t love a little bit of Friday humour? Certainly, you could hire a comedian from our roster to deliver all the laughs but it may be more enjoyable on this particular Friday to enjoy today’s blog about the French ‘flatulist’, Le Pétomane, who wowed crowds in the late 19th century.

You might be sitting there wondering what exactly is a flatulist? If you passed over the title quickly before clicking, you might be under the completely wrong impression that you are about to read a blog all about a professional flute player. Alas, dear reader, that is not what a flatulist does. Now that you have had some time to read over the words and roll the syllables with your tongue, we think you know exactly what we’re getting at. Yes, a flatulist is a professional farter and indeed, Joseph Pujol was the finest of them all. To be fair, it is not hard to be the best when there is only one of you in the world.

To put it diplomatically, Mr. Pujol was known for the remarkable control of his abdominal muscles which enabled him to seemingly fart at will. The stage name of Le Pétomane, incidentally, roughly translates as the Fartomaniac. Isn’t the French language just beautiful? Young Joseph was somewhat fascinated by his apparently remarkable ability to inhale water into his anus and then fire it at will right back out again and after impressing fellow comrades in the army and then at a bakery, he decided to see if he could take this act to the stage, debuting in Marseilles in 1887.  

With his act being well received, Le Pétomane moved to Paris to see what their appetite for schoolboy humour was like! Seemingly large, he debuted at the Moulin Rouge in 1892, able to create sounds similar to cannon fire, thunderstorms and even La Marseillaise on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus. What remarkable abilities! You may think that the only people to be impressed by such an act would have been the common folk of the Parisian streets but no, the professional farter (or perhaps it should be farteur?) entertained audiences including Edward, Prince of Wales, King Leopold II of Belgium and Sigmund Freud, who surely found Mr. Pujol an intriguing subject to psychoanalyse.

Just two years after first performing at the Moulin Rouge, Le Pétomane was fined 3,000 francs for an impromptu performance to aid a struggling friend. As a result, the hugely famous cabaret event venue lost its star attraction and he went on tour, refining his act to become a little gentler over the next decade or so, learning to imitate farm animal noises with his special ability. With the outbreak of World War I, Pujol saw no space for his act amidst the inhumanity of the conflict and retired from the stage in his late fifties, once again returning to the baking world and opening a biscuit factory in Toulon.

Joseph Pujol, the flatulist, the farteur, the fartomniac – Le Pétomane, died in 1945 aged 88 but his legacy still lives on and not just in this blog! He was featured in a short comedic film starring Leonard Rossiter in 1979 and has surprisingly had a number of musicals made about his life in the last ten years. The Fartiste was awarded Best Musical at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2006 and A Passing Wind premiered at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2011. In addition, his name is referenced in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and he briefly appears as a performer in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!

Unfortunately we do not have a professional farter for hire currently but we do have a whole host of entertainment acts to hire. Feel free to look around the website and if you’d like to know more then please do get in touch using the contact details below.



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By Henry Fosdike