The Buffoon and The Countryman

A Buffoon entertained with animal sounds. A Man said he could imitate a pig better. On stage the audience reviled his performance until he showed the pig.

Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh by imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking so like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed about him. But a Countryman who stood by said: “Call that a pig squeak! Nothing like it. You give me till tomorrow and I will show you what it’s like.” The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the Countryman appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so hideously that the spectators hissed and threw stones at him to make him stop. “You fools!” he cried, “see what you have been hissing,” and held up a little pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the squeals.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Merry-Andrew and The Countryman)

Merry-Andrew and CountrymanOn the occasion of some festivities that were given by a Roman nobleman, a droll fellow of a Merry-andrew caused much laughter by his tricks upon the stage, and, more than all, by his imitation of the squeaking of a Pig. It seemed to the hearers so real, that they called for it again and again. One man, however, in the audience, thought the imitation was not perfect; and he made his way to the stage, and said that if he were permitted, he to-morrow would enter the lists, and squeak against the Merry-andrew for a wager. The mob, anticipating great fun , shouted their consent, and accordingly, when the next day came, the two rival Jokers were in their place. The hero of the previous day went first, and the hearers, more pleased than ever, fairly roared with delight. Then came the turn of the Countryman, who, having a Pig carefully concealed under his cloak, so that no one would have suspected its existence, vigorously pinched its car with his thumb-nail, and made it squeak with a vengeance. “Not half as good–not half as good!” cried the audience, and many among them even began to hiss. “Fine judges you!” replied the Countryman, rushing to the front of the stage, drawing the Pig from under his cloak, and holding the animal up on high. “Behold the performer that you condemn!”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A rich nobleman once opened the theaters without charge to the people, and gave a public notice that he would handsomely reward any person who invented a new amusement for the occasion. Various public performers contended for the prize. Among them came a Buffoon well known among the populace for his jokes, and said that he had a kind of entertainment which had never been brought out on any stage before. This report being spread about made a great stir, and the theater was crowded in every part. The Buffoon appeared alone upon the platform, without any apparatus or confederates, and the very sense of expectation caused an intense silence. He suddenly bent his head towards his bosom and imitated the squeaking of a little pig so admirably with his voice that the audience declared he had a porker under his cloak, and demanded that it should be shaken out. When that was done and nothing was found, they cheered the actor, and loaded him with the loudest applause. A Countryman in the crowd, observing all that has passed, said, “So help me, Hercules, he shall not beat me at that trick!” and at once proclaimed that he would do the same thing on the next day, though in a much more natural way. On the morrow a still larger crowd assembled in the theater, but now partiality for their favorite actor very generally prevailed, and the audience came rather to ridicule the Countryman than to see the spectacle. Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted and squeaked away first, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the applause and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman commenced, and pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his clothes (which in truth he did, but not suspected by the audience ) contrived to take hold of and to pull his ear causing the pig to squeak. The Crowd, however, cried out with one consent that the Buffoon had given a far more exact imitation, and clamored for the Countryman to be kicked out of the theater. On this the rustic produced the little pig from his cloak and showed by the most positive proof the greatness of their mistake. “Look here,” he said, “this shows what sort of judges you are.”

Perry #527