Back in the early 70s, when I was in 6th or 7th grade, my parents got a cassette tape from some friends. It was a very Big Deal. In fact, right on the front of the tape, in big bold letters, it said, “ADULTS ONLY.” Naturally, the folks played it for us kids immediately. It was called, “The Crepitation Contest.”
The material originally came from a series of 78-RPM albums made in 1946, by a CBC sports announcer, Sidney S. Brown, and his assistant Jules Lipton. The gist of the recording was that it was a live broadcast of an international farting championship; a contest between the English champion Lord Windesmear versus Aussie challenger Paul Boomer.
It sounded very much like listening to a far-off boxing match via short-wave radio or something. It had all the hallmarks of a big-time fight… crowd noises, pre-match interviews with the contestants, detailed descriptions their outfits, the setting, and the “ring,” which in this case, included the Farting Pole. It was all done with a period-perfect sense of importance and gravitas.
The match begins when the challenger enters the ring, grasps the Farting Pole and begins a series of descriptively-named farts, as the announcer calls the play-by-play. Each kind of fart is assigned a point value, depending on length and complexity. The contestant farts for as long as he can before bowing out and then his opponent takes his turn. The farter with the most points wins.
Now, my siblings and I thought this was the funniest thing we ever heard. What I never understood was how a tape about farting could ever be considered “Adults Only.” I guess I was unaware of 1946 sensibilities.
To OUR sensibilities, it was comic gold, and it catapulted us into staging a summer-long series of our own farting contests. (Outside, of course, per mom.) We played the tape for all our neighbor friends, so that they could get in on the fun too. Adults Only?? Bah! Kids come out of the womb knowing farts are funny. (Especially “boy” kids.) Why should the grownups have all the fun?
During that summer we went to visit some old friends of ours from our time in Chicago, who had kids in the same ages and alignment as us: two boys and a youngest girl. These kids were the perfect Contestants for us because we been celebrating farts together since we first met.
My mom told me that one time, when the boys were sleeping over our house, she woke up one morning to find them sitting on the top of the steps outside their bedroom. When she asked them why they were there, they said, “We’re waiting to hear Mr. Dude fart!”
I guess we had been talking up our dad’s prowess in that particular area, especially first thing in the morning.
Duly inspired, we kids held a weekend-long farting contest amongst ourselves. (Dad wasn’t allowed to play; he’d have been a “ringer.”) We stuck to all the rules from the tape, except that we didn’t have a farting pole, so when it was “go-time” we grasped the chain of their swing set, which we christened, “The Farting Chain.”
Always looking for that extra edge, we sought out foods we thought would make us gassy; foods that had “fartants,” as we called them. (Did you know chocolate sprinkles make you fart?)
But even with our fartant-fortified food intake, we couldn’t really stage one long, contiguous event like they did on the tape. It came down to whenever someone had one in the chamber, they’d holler, “I got one!” and we’d scurry out to the Farting Chain. After one occasion that cause much arguing about whether a particular fart was “silent” or not, we stipulated that someone had to put their ear down by the farter’s butt and everyone else had to remain quiet. Yes, we took this stuff seriously.
Anyway, I was so happy to find that I still had the old cassette, which I immediately played for Pinky.
Suffice to say, she wasn’t quite as impressed with it as I had been. I blame it on the sound quality. This tape was heavily used by the time we got it in the early 1970s. Stick another 40 years on it and the sound gets a bit sludgy.
So last month when I was searching YouTube for those National Lampoon clips I posted that no one listened to, I also took a look for The Contest. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was actually amazed. The recording was so clear, I realized that we had a bunch of the terminology wrong. For all these years, for example, we thought they called a silent fart a “Flotcher,” but in fact, they clearly call it a “Plotcher.” And what we thought was a “Treblow,” is actually a “Trillblow.”
Damn… my childhood memories just got turned upside down.
Not wanting you to miss out on this slice of aural and olfactory history, I now display for you the epic glory that is The Crepitation Contest (of 1946). Gather your family ‘round, huddle close to the speakers and be prepared to be transported to a far off time and place where man to man competition meant turning the other cheek.
Note: Darwinfish2 takes no responsibilities for any copycat contests, nor any residual by-products that may be produced, resulting in the fouling of atmosphere, furniture or underwear.
Full running time is about 15 minutes. There is no profanity, save for one very common household oath that appears right at the end. I’m pretty sure your kids have heard it before, if you’ve ever stubbed your toe or burned the roast.