In the days of vaudeville, physical comedy was considered funny, and comics would “accidentally-on-purpose” fall for the comic effect. However, falling down is only funny when the person gets back up.
A few years ago, I had a very rough day. I was going to work that morning the same as always. There was a street between the parking garage and the building where I worked that I hated crossing, even though there was a streetlight, a cross walk, and even a pedestrian light.
The local bus station was on that same corner and buses were constantly pulling out and turning right on red. Some of them didn’t seem to know that pedestrians in a cross walk have the right of way, or else they got bonus bucks for hitting people.
The city streets were rough with cracks and patches in the asphalt that you had to walk around while watching for cars that might not stop, buses turning the corner and making sure that the pedestrian walk light was on green.
What this is all leading up to, as you may have guessed from the title, is the prat fall. It was not for the comic effect, believe me. The only good part was that I made it across the street before my grand performance or I probably would not be here to talk about it.
I thought I was being careful, but somehow, I managed to stumble on a crack and before I knew what was happening, the sidewalk was coming up to slap me in the face.
“Yikes,” I thought, as I lay on the sidewalk looking at the concrete. “I’ve fallen down.”
I sat up on the sidewalk and waited for laughter and applause. Crashing with a city sidewalk isn’t funny, apparently, as no one was laughing. My purse and lunch bag had gone one direction and my Big Bubba coffee cup the other. Coffee was running all over the sidewalk – not that I cared about coffee at that point.
When something like this happens in the city, people pretend that they don’t see you. They probably think you are drunk or on drugs and do not want to get involved.
Luckily for me, however, a kind man stopped. I think he was a street person.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I think so,” I replied. I couldn’t half see as my glasses were knocked lopsided. I didn’t know if I could get up or not. Too bad no one made a video. My act would go viral on YouTube.
The man was still standing there. He seemed not to know what to do.
“Would you mind helping me get up?” I asked.
He held out his arm and, I was able to stand up, actually easier than I expected.
“I’m okay,” I lied, picking up my purse and lunch bag. I wondered if he liked my comedy act, but I was too rattled for polite conversation.
“Don’t forget your coffee, mum,” said the man, still trying to be helpful but not knowing how.
I thanked him and went on to my office, where I could set down and check out the damage. I straightened out my lopsided glasses the best I could. One of the lenses was badly scratched from hitting the concrete and I would need new glasses.
I decided I was going to live. If breaking my glasses is the worst thing that happened, I could consider myself lucky.
I called Honey on the phone for sympathy. “Do you need to go the emergency room?” he asked.
“I guess I’m okay.” I said, holding an ice pack on my face, hoping I would not get a black eye.
So, that was my vaudeville routine.
Some people might say that a prat fall is supposed to be done by falling backwards on your bottom, which goes to show, I can’t even fall down the right way.
After that, I decided that I would stick to trying to write humor instead of performing it.
Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss