Flatulence is one of the few things that cross language and cultural barriers. Comedian Sarah Silverman says “farts are international sign language” in her book Eat, Prey, Fart.
Professional Farters or Flatulists have been around for a long time. We have mentioned the Japanese He-Gassen fart battle scrolls from the Edo period before. There is a scroll from Japan’s Kamakura era (1185 to 1333), Called The King of Farts about a performer who danced fart dances for the aristocracy. The farting performers were called “heppiri otoko” (放屁男), lit. “farting men”.
There are fart jokes in Shakespeare and also in St. Augustine’s 5 century work City of God. Then there is Roland the Farter, who performed his celebrated “Unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum” (one jump, one whistle, and one fart) for Henry II‘s court every Christmas. He was rewarded with Hemingstone Manor and 30 acres of land for his yearly performance.
Medieval times were a boom time for Flatulists, although they were called braigetoír and their talent was considered requiring as much skill as playing a musical instrument.
Joseph Pujol was a French performer whose stage name was Le Pétomane, which translates to “fartomaniac”. Le Pétomane could fart at will and play songs from his anus. He did not pass intestinal gas; he had a rare ability to inhale through his anus. He was the star attraction at the Moulin Rouge in 1892. He was fired from the Moulin Rouge for moonlighting after he gave an impromptu performance to help out a friend in financial trouble. His life inspired several musicals as well as a nod from Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles where Mel’s character is named Governor William J. Le Petomane.
Paul Oldfield, known as Mr. Methane, is a British flatulist who claims to be the last Flatulist in the world circa 1991-2007. Honorable nods should go to Terrence and Phillip from South Park. Also, Howard Stern’s Fartman character. Even if you don’t enjoy fart humor, you now know some of it’s history.