This Blog is a Gas

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Flatulists

Le Petomame

For something completely different, here’s a blog about farting. Yes, it’s a real gas. But please don’t think me an uncultured oaf. Au contraire, mes amis, au contraire! I am simply — and 100% accurately — reporting on a cultural phenom by the name of Joseph Pujol who took Paris by storm at the turn of the last century as a professional farter and entertainer!

His skill was such that Le Pétomane, for that was his stage name — combining the French verb “to fart” with the French word for “maniac” — commanded a salary second only to Harry Houdini at Paris’ famed Moulin Rouge.

Now, why you may wonder am I choosing to write about this? I could say it is because we middle-agers and almost oldsters tend to pass gas more than younger folk and that therefore the subject of flatulence is on my mind (and in the air), but that’s not why.

A Real Gas

The truth — and my only excuse — is that reading about Le Pétomane and his success made me laugh! And I figure, my dear middle-aged muddlers, that you too could also use a laugh as we all wait for our vaccination dates to arrive. To say nothing about waiting for that magical date when “things will get better.”

So, with simple silliness in mind, here’s a bit more about Joseph Pujol (June 1, 1857 – August 8, 1945), the famous French farter and entertainer.

Born to Fart

Born in Marseilles as one of five children, Pujol served in the military and then worked as a baker where he amused fellow soldiers and bakeshop customers with his ability to move air into his rectum and then control the release of that air with his anal sphincter muscles to make funny sounds.

This “skill” led him to Paris and eventual success at the Moulin Rouge, where he eventually earned a staggering 20,000 francs a week, out-earning every performer in Europe except as previously mentioned Harry Houdini.

Appearing on stage in a full tuxedo, cape, and white gloves, Joseph would smoke cigarettes out his rear end and make thunderclap noises and cannon fire sounds.

His act also included blowing out candles from a distance of several yards, playing a stirring farting flute rendition of the French national anthem, and then, for the grand finale, ending the show with a five-minute farting rendition of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

No Business Like Show Business

Adoring audiences apparently sang along to songs played in his farting flute routines. And if that wasn’t enough, he also played “‘O Sole Mio” on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus.

Among the who’s who of the time who came to see him were Edward, Prince of Wales; King Leopold II of the Belgians; and Sigmund Freud.

And in the category of “too much information:” Pujol proudly proclaimed that his farts were odorless, thanks to a controlled food regimen and daily colonics.

While, alas, there are no sound recordings of Pujol’s performances, the Edison Company did produce a film of his act in 1900.

Oldsters and Gas

And about the issue of old farts farting more than younger people, good news! Statistically speaking, there’s little evidence that they/we actually do.

Whew! That’s the good news.

However, because older people tend to gain weight, tend to be less active, tend to develop more medical conditions and take make more medications, and also, become lactose intolerant, they (we) can become gassier than their (our) younger counterparts.

Now, there are some things oldsters can do to reduce flatulence, including avoiding dairy and by substituting oat milk for regular milk, or taking lactase replacements.

Avoiding foods that tend to cause gas (broccoli, dairy, beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and onions) can also help. Also recommended by the experts, eat slowly, avoid gulping (which seems reasonable in any case!), and skip bubbly drinks. Egads! No champagne — or Diet Coke! What is the point of living?

Lastly, over-the-counter products such as simethicone (Gas X, Phazyme) and Beano (alpha-galactosidase) can help with excess bloating and gassiness.

Late-life Career Option

Another option? We can take late-in-life careers as professional fartists! In today’s lack-of-culture culture, what the heck! Anything really does go! So, who knows, with a little practice — and a high bean and broccoli diet — you could be the next Le Pétomane. I don’t think they’ve booked an act for next year’s Super Bowl. Start practicing now!


Fast Fart Fact: Healthy adults pass gas between 10 and 25 times per day. Hence, our family motto:  “The dog did it!”

Fast Fart Trivia: Mel Brooks’ Governor in Blazing Saddles was named Le Petomane without the accent mark!

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