Sunday, August 29, 2010

Long Skirt Gags

I thought that the skirt gags in history movies were just that, gags written by modern writers about a time they didn't live in. Take The Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. Sarah Miles' annoying character loses her skirt twice in the story. Once to a bicycle (for a future entry on bike jokes).......

...and the stepping on gag.

Doing Rev-War and Civil War reenacting, I would get nervous around women reenactors' dresses, especially at period balls and dances. There was good reason to be cautious as illustrations of the skirt gag, based on possibly REAL accidents goes back to at least 1800. I'm pretty sure Tolstoy and Zola mentioned it happening in print.

It continued into the early 1900s....

By the early 1900s the gag started to include exposure of the victim...

A comic strip from La Vie En Culotte Rouge, a french military humor magazine had this series of cartoons involving wearing spurs to a dance.

Post card studios hired actors for the gag.

I haven't seen a period "woman on woman" example. The period jokes usually imply that men are pretty stupid and the women are the victims. The  TV show F Troop tried the "woman on woman" skirt gag. The act was deliberate....

Somehow at the end of the action, the men got the blame with 3 women walking out on Captain Parmenter.


  1. At my very first ball, at my very first event a gentleman stepped on the hem of my dress during "the Gothic" and it ripped. He was mortified! I tied the tear in a knot so it wasn't dragging and acted like it was no big deal but really I was very upset. It was the first dress I sewed and it took me forever. :D Fond memories.

  2. It makes great comedy when it happens to fictional characters but not if you spent time and money on the dress. In the theme of "I like the things I like", I like the old images but as a man, I'd hate to be the cause of the accident for real. The old saying is if it happens to you it's tragedy, it's comedy when it happens to someone else.