Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Feast of Saint Pigmeat

My Fellow Comedists,

This week marks the feast day of Dewey Markham, better known as Pigmeat from one of the characters he played in his routine, "Sweet Papa Pigmeat." Born in Durham, north Carolina, he started in show business as a tap dancer, but quickly came to the stage as a comedian. He toured the Vaudeville circuit, playing mostly in the south performing alongside such talents as Bessie Smith, Red Buttons, and Milton Berle. His humor was typical for the time, racy and character-based, but as big as they come on stage.

In the segregated world of post-WWII show business, Pigmeat was trapped in the African-American community. His talent made him a star in black clubs becoming the house comic of The Apollo in New York City and releasing a series of comedy albums. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan show, but his biggest hit would lead to a come-back later in the 60s. Lampooning southern formality, he played a southern judge dealing with all sorts of oddballs in his courtroom. Setting it to music, in what may be the first rap album of all time, is famous line "Here comes da' judge" became a catchphrase when he was brought onto Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In to resurrect the bit.

Thank you Pigmeat.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve