Corny picnic satire was long in vogue in the English music before Gilbert and Sullivan’s Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old premiered in 1871. [Posted elsewhere on PicnicWit.Com]
“The Pic-Nic” an 1829 song (sung to the air of “Here’s the Maiden of Bashful Fifteen,” from Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, seems typical. Its inclusion in Arliss’ The Melodist suggests that even then, alfresco picnicking and its ripe opportunities for comedy and satire.
“The Pic-Nic” begins on a high note then descends into comic banter, not sung but spoken:
The day it will serve, and the weather is fine,
And since we have plenty of leisure,
If you think of a spot most convenient to dine,
We’ll make up a party of pleasure,
Then come along Dick—make haste, be quick,
There’s nothing to equal a social pic-nic.
The banter is typical musical hall comedy:
Spoken.] Well, where are the knives? I did not bring them. No more did I. I thought you had my dear; (going round,) have you a knife? I’ve a penknife. And so have I. How provoking. Pray, sir, what did you bring? Chicken, sir. And you? I brought chicken. So did I. Has any one got a tongue? Yes, my wife has. Did no one bring any thing but chicken? I brought an eel pie. (Irishman, opening a pie with a penknife.) I’ve heard of cutting blocks with a razor, oh, faith there’s not an eel to be seen, (looking into the pie,) nothing but gravy. Why, sir, the fact was I’m an enemy to cruelty, so put the eels in whole, and sent the pie to the baker’s. Then they’ve riggled out; he he, what a joke. The devil take such a joke, say I, hump, and I’m riggled out of my pie. I hate chicken.
Who’s for ginger beer? (Ginger beer flies about.) All the bottles are going, (pop, pop,) do you call this ginger beer? No, ginger pop. (Fidget.) Call this pleasure, do you. I say, Figgins. Well. Why is your knife like a sailing vessel? I don’t know. Why, because it’s a cutter. [
See: H. Arliss, Ed. The Melodist, and Mirthful Olio: A Collection of the Most Popular Songs, Recitation, Glees, Duets, & etc. Volume 4. London: H. Arliss, 1829
Featured Image: Energetic and vulgar, though the lyrics praise this as “capital fun.” Maybe.