View of the Undercliffe Cemetery Promenade

Charles Rice, Comedian

Charles Rice, Comedian

Map Number







I 820

Charles Rice



1820 - 1880

Victorian Comedians

Did you know…?

  • Most comedians in Victorian times performed in music halls where people went to laugh and forget about some of the miseries of life experienced by poorer people at that time. But jokes were also an important part of Victorian circus acts…
  • In 2007 a joke book was found. It was compiled in the 1870s by Tom Lawrence, a ‘Big Top’ clown, and contains more than 200 jokes and comedy routines about Victorian life. It shows how our sense of humour has changed over time.
  • The Victorians enjoyed puns and word play as the following extracts from Tom Lawrence’s book show:

  • ‘Bad husbands are a bit like bad coals – they smoke, they go out, and they don’t keep the pot boiling’.
  • ‘What’s the difference between a rowing boat and Joan of Arc? One is made of wood and the other is Maid of Orleans’
  • ‘Bless those wives that fill our lives with little bees and honey, They ease life’s shocks, they mend our socks - but can’t they spend the money!’
  • His humour also had a darker side:

  • ‘Have you seen my girlfriend’s bonnet? I gave her that.
    Have you seen her jacket? I gave her that.
    Have you seen her eyes?
    Yes - they were both black.
    I gave her those too’.
  • Another source of ‘one-liners’ is Jewell’s Annual and Year Book of Information for 1896:

  • ‘What is it gives a cold, cures a cold and pays the doctor’s bill? A draught.’
  • ‘Which would you rather have, a live hen or a dead hen? A dead hen because it always lays where you put it.’
  • ‘What is it that a poor man has that a rich man wants? Nothing.’
  • Further Reading
    Dagmar Kift (1996) The Victorian music hall: culture, class and conflict. Cambridge: University of Cambridge

    City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds:

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