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Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

This 19th Century Performer Wowed Audiences With Musical Farts

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

Paris at the turn of the century was a hotbed of artistic activity. Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Proust, and many other acclaimed writers, painters, musicians, and performers made Paris their stomping grounds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One such performance artist, Joseph Pujol, rose to fame around this time as a flatulist. Yes, a professional farter.

During a childhood visit to the beach, a young Pujol had discovered that he could “inhale” water into his butt. And lo, every young boy’s dream became his reality. First he contented himself with shooting powerful jets of water out of his rear end, but eventually he realized he could intake air as well, allowing him to make as many raucous fart sounds as he wanted. It wasn’t as gross a hobby as you might imagine: Since he wasn’t actually farting out gas from his digestive tracks, his anal anthems didn’t smell.

Pujol’s gas act, under his stage name “Le Petomane” (the word “pet” means fart in French) became a headliner at the Moulin Rouge, and the flatulist would tour the world for more than two decades. He performed imitations of songs and specific sounds, like the noise fabric makes when it rips. He was eventually discovered by Thomas Edison, who was working on an invention that would add sound and smell to a movie.

Edison recorded Le Petomane’s act at the World’s Fair in 1900 in Paris. The sound (and whatever smell might have accompanied it) have since been lost, but the film itself is still around:

Pujol left the theatrical world after World War I, moving to Marseilles to run a series of bakeries. Thanks to being immortalized in one of Edison’s early films, Le Petomane’s talents have not been forgotten. In 2011, Pujol became the subject of an off-Broadway musical called The Fartiste.

And lest you think fart performances are consigned to history, know that there are still flatulists fanning the dying art. A UK-based performer nicknamed Mr. Methane considers himself an heir to Pujol’s anal voicing technique. Because fart jokes will never go out of style.

Additional sources: “Cheeky Behavior: The Meaning and Function of ‘Fartlore’ in Childhood and Adolescence"

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Can You Really Lose Weight by Pooping? It Depends on What You Eat
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If you’re obsessed with either your scale or your bowel movements, you’ve probably wondered: How much of my weight is just poop? A teenage cousin of mine once spent an entire restaurant dinner arguing that he could lose up to 3 pounds if you just gave him a few minutes to sit on the toilet. As you might imagine, he was wrong. But not by that much, according to Thrillist, a site that’s been truly dominating the poop science beat lately.

You can indeed see the effects of a truly satisfying bowel movement reflected on your bathroom scale. (Wash your hands first, please.) But how much your feces weigh depends heavily on your diet. The more fiber you eat, the heavier your poop. Unfortunately, even the most impressive fecal achievement won't tip the scales much.

In 1992, researchers studying the effect of fiber intake on colon cancer risk wrote that the daily movements of poopers across the world could vary anywhere from 2.5 ounces to 1 pound. In their sample of 220 Brits, the median daily poop weighed around 3.7 ounces. A dietary intake of around 18 grams of dietary fiber a day typically resulted in a 5.3-ounce turd, which the researchers say is enough to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

A Western diet probably isn’t going to help you achieve your poop potential, mass-wise. According to one estimate, industrialized populations only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day thanks to processed foods. (Aside from ruining your bragging rights for biggest poop, this also wreaks havoc on your microbiome.) That's why those British poops observed in the study didn't even come close to 1 pound.

Poop isn’t the only thing passing through your digestive tract that has some volume to it. Surprisingly, your fabulous flatulence can be quantified, too, and it doesn’t even take a crazy-sensitive machine to do so. In a 1991 study, volunteers plied with baked beans were hooked up to plastic fart-capturing bags using rectal catheters. The researchers found that the average person farts around 24 ounces of gas a day. The average fart involved around 3 ounces of gas.

This doesn’t mean that either pooping or farting is a solid weight-loss strategy. If you’re hoping to slim down, losing a pound of poop won’t improve the way your jeans fit. Certainly your 24 ounces of gas won't. But to satisfy pure scientific curiosity, sure, break out that scale before and after you do your business. At least you'll be able to see if your fiber intake is up to snuff.

[h/t Thrillist]

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Why You Get Diarrhea When You're Hungover
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If your hangover mornings involve a lot of time sitting on the toilet, you're not alone. In addition to making you puke your guts out, drinking too much can also give you massive diarrhea the next day. Why? Thrillist talked to a gastroenterologist about the hangover poops, and found that it's a pretty common phenomenon, one caused by a combination of unusually fast-moving digestion.

When you drink, Urvish Shah told the site, alcohol increases what's called gut motility, the contractions that move food along your gastrointestinal tract. Combine this with the fact that booze inhibits vasopressin—the hormone that regulates water retention and prevents your kidneys from immediately dumping whatever liquid you drink into your bladder—and suddenly your guts have become a full-blown water slide.

All those cocktails take a fast-paced thrill ride down to your colon, where your gut bacteria throw a feast. The result is a bunch of gas and diarrhea you don't usually get when food and water are passing through your system a little more slowly. And because it's all rushing through you so fast, the colon isn't absorbing as much liquid as usual, giving you even more watery poops. If you haven't eaten, the extra acidity in your stomach from the booze can also irritate your stomach lining, causing—you guessed it—more diarrhea.

The more concentrated form of alcohol you drink, the worse it's going to be. If you really want to stay out of the bathroom the morning after that party, go ahead and take it easy on the shots. Because beer is so high in carbohydrates, though, Thrillist warns that that will cause gas and poop problems too as the bacteria in your gut start going to town on the undigested carbs that make it to your colon.

All in all, the only way to avoid a post-alcohol poop is to just stop drinking quite as much. Sorry, folks. If you want to rule Saturday night, you'll have to deal with the Sunday morning runs.

[h/t Thrillist]

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