Also writes as: Charles Ridgway
Born: Established: ca. 1882 London,
1. CHARLIE VAUDE PERFORMANCE STYLE:
NB: See also Vaude and Verne entry.
As a comedian, Charlie Vaude adopted different delivery strategies to those he had learned in his youth, requiring him to work on much broader lines:
In England one can always tickle [an] audience into laughter - or excite them to enthusiasm - by playing on their jingoistic feelings. Here [in Australia] if you attempted anything of that kind you would be given the bird. The Australian wants something in the nature of real humour - satirical or otherwise. He wants this, it is true, but you must not presume upon his being able to follow you if you become in any way subtle, nor must you take it that he is conversant with the political and general topics of the hour (Theatre Magazine January 1912, p.27).
In this same interview, Vaude provides examples of jokes that worked and failed. He also provides reasons for the different audience responses (p.27).
Vaude's specialty was to make fun of topical issues and current personalities, relying on wit to turn his observations into a combination of humour and satire. Typical of the responses to Vaude's performances is the following Brisbane Courier review from 1918:
He has an amazing range of talk, and it is seldom that his act is the same as the preceding performance. Verne is never sure what his nimble-witted partner is going to say, and makes it a practice to studiously read his daily newspaper half an hour before they go on the stage so as to have some knowledge of the events which Vaude is likely to satirise (21 Sept. 1918, p.12).
A 1924 Theatre Magazine review of a Fullers' program similarly refers to the Vaude and Verne act as working up 'seemingly inexhaustible topical newspaper jokes' (July 1924, p.21).
2. HISTORICAL NOTES AND CORRECTIONS:
2.1. Bill Verne's real name has been referred to as 'Partington' (Isadore Brodsky, The Streets of Sydney, p.40) and 'Bartington' (David Dunstan, Dictionary of Australian Biography, p.312). According to several reports published during their career (including an interview with Charles Vaude), Verne's birth name was Will Barrington.
See, for example, Theatre Magazine January 1912, p.25 ; October 1915, p.34 ; and April 1916, p.34.
2.2. Vaude's reputation in Brisbane was seriously compromised in late 1914 when he was reported to have made some contentious jokes about Ted Holland's recent death during a Perth engagement. The jokes were quickly relayed back to Queensland, with the Truth publishing them in its 11 October edition. The paper proposed that not only were the jokes not funny, but that if Vaude and Verne ever made their way back to Brisbane audiences would not fail to remember this affront to the city's well-liked former entrepreneur (p.9). A Theatre Magazine article published in January the following year insisted, however, that the whole incident had been misrepresented, and that Vaude and Verne not only had great respect for Holland (and for whom they had previously worked), but that the jokes were in fact imaginary patter attributed to them by the Sunday Times (Perth) critic 'Dryblower' Murphy (January 1915, p.46).
Vaude was again dragged into a controversy when he was accused by fellow variety performer Sydney Jones in 1915 of plagiarising both 'Who Killed Cock Robin' and his own song, 'Who Smashed the Kaiser' (Theatre Magazine June 1915, p.47 and July 1915, p.38). Vaude responded in the August issue in a lengthy letter, arguing that the lyrics of his satirical war-time song, 'Who Killed the Kaiser', bore no similarity to either song, and that this was based on his own observation of Jones performing 'Who Smashed the Kaiser' (p.38).
2.3. Oral History Recording:
The National Film and Sound Archive holds an oral history interview with Joy Westmore, in which she talks about Charlie Vaude's influence on her early career. Interview by Beverley Dunn.
2.4. Renn Miller:
As noted in the Hugh Huxham entry, Miller's name was been spelled variously as 'Ren' and 'Renn' throughout his career. For uniformity purposes, AustLit has adopted the second spelling, which was more frequently used in advertising during the 1920s. 'Ren' appears to have been more common post-1930.
3. HISTORICAL NOTES AND CORRECTIONS - LILAS BIRT (ca. 1894-1931):
3.1. Birt's birth name is given as 'Lilas May Roots' in David Dunstan's uncited entry on Vaude in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
3.2. Birt's Christian name during the early 1900s was often spelled 'Lillas' or 'Lilias' in advertising (see, for example, Age 19 February 1910, p.18).
3.3. A 'charming serio comic' by the name of Lily Burt was billed as appearing at Melbourne's People's Concerts for the first time on 13 February 1897. If Lilas Birt's year of birth (ca. 1894) is correct, they cannot be the same person. The performer would have had to be in her early to mid-teens to be billed as a serio. However, as Birt's birth details are yet to be firmly established and because the names during the period in question were very often mis-spelled in advertising and programs (i.e., 'Burt' should have been spelled 'Birt'), there is a remote possibility that they were the same person. Further research into this issue is required. Interestingly, the same bill advertises a double song-and-dance act by the name of Verne and Colligan: it is unclear if there is any relationship between this Verne and Will Barrington.
She is described as 'little Lilas Birt' during her engagement at the Palace Garden's Theatre, Perth, ca. 20 January 1905.
Birt is billed ca. 1910 as 'popular serio and character artist'.
3.4. In late December 1921, while playing a season at a Broadmeadows theatre (Newcastle), Birt suffered a serious accident in her dressing room when a floorboard gave way. The fall apparently stripped the skin clean off her shin and calf for several inches (Everyone's 4 January 1922, p.20).
3.5. A 1918 paragraph published in Australian Variety (10 May, n. pag) refers to Mrs Chas Vaude as being Miss Lorraine Watson, then playing a circuit around the Hunter district of New South Wales (to be followed by a tour of Tasmania for Don Henry). It is unclear if this reference is an error or whether Lilas Birt was performing under another stage name.
3.6. Although Birt often toured with her husband, her name does not always appear in advertised programs or in reviews. Her established engagements to date are (^ indicates on the same bill as Vaude and Verne):
1905: Palace Gardens Theatre (Perth) ca. 20 January (Leonard Davis' Co).
1910: St Kilda Town Hall, Melbourne ; 19 Feb. -* / Temperance Hall, Melbourne (People's Concerts) ; ca. November.
1920: Fullers Theatre, Sydney ; ca. July -* [^]
1921: Broadmeadows, Newcastle (NSW) ca. December.
1923: Gaiety Theatre, Sydney ; ca. October [Harry Clay ^] / Bohemia Theatre, Brisbane ; ca. December [^]
1924: Fullers' Theatre, Sydney ; ca. May [Fullers' Fantastics ^].
1925: Empire Theatre, Brisbane ; ca. February [Con Moreni Co].
4. ADDITIONAL SONGS BY CHARLES VAUDE:
The following list comprises songs that were written by Charles Vaude, which were either unpublished or for which the publication details are yet to be established.
'Attic, The' (n. yr.). Written by Vaude for Billy Rego in Tails Up (ctd. Theatre Magazine Aug. 1920, p.16).
'Basement, The' (n. yr.). Written by Vaude for Billy Rego (ctd. Theatre Magazine Aug. 1920, p.16).
'Dear Old Dad' (n. yr). Written by Vaude for Lilas Birt (ctd. Theatre Magazine Aug. 1920, p.16).
'If There Wasn't Any Money in the World' (ca. 1908-1911), Charlie Vaude. (Vaude indicates that this song had been published.)
'Kosciusko' (ca. 1914).
'There's No Need to Worry at All (If You're Thinking of the War)'. (Ctd. cover of 'They're Anzacs, Every One'.)
'There is Not Another Baby in the World Like Ours' (1917), Charlie Vaude (ctd Australian Variety 30 May 1917, n. pag.).
'When I Lost You' (1914). Parody by Charlie Vaude (ctd. Australian Variety 20 Jan. 1915, p.5).
'Who Smashed the Kaiser' (1915). (Ctd. Theatre Magazine June 1915, p.47 and July 1915, p.38).
7. FURTHER REFERENCE:
The following list comprises articles, paragraphs, and reports relating to Charlie Vaude that are not given individual entries in this database. See also Vaude and Verne.
Entries with an asterisk (*) beside them indicate that the source is an advertisement.
Australian Variety: 20 January 1915, p.5 [re. artists using Vaude's songs without permission] / 10 November 1915, n. pag. [re. the possibility of Vaude and James White (Hawklett journalist) forming a partnership to write songs and sketches for revue and vaudeville].
Dunstan, David. 'Vaude, Charlie (1882?-1942)' Australian Dictionary of Biography 12 (1990), pp.312-313.
Everyone's: 4 January 1922, p.20 [re. Lilas Birt accident]
500 Victorians. Melbourne: M. G. Henderson, 1934.
McLaughlan, Bill. From Wireless to Radio: The 3DB Story [sound recording] Melbourne: Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, 1992.
Theatre Magazine: December 1914, p.45 / June 1915, p.47 and July 1915, p.38 [Sydney Jones's accusations re. plagiarism]
The following recordings are available commercially and/or through various Australian libraries].
4.1. Compact Disk Compilations:
Stars of the Australian Stage and Radio: Volume 1. Larrikin, CD, LRH 429. [Series: Warren Faye Presents Yesterday's Australia] ('Grandfather's Shirt').
4.2. National Film and Sound Archive:
The following recordings are held in various collections:
'The Mountains of Mourne' (incl. 'Introduction of Song'). Performed by Ren Miller [Side 1] ; 'Test Cricket 1938' (1938). Comic dialogue between Charlie and Vaude and Richard Tauber [Side 2]. Released by Radio Station 3DB.
'Dudley Flats' and 'Melody Mixture'. Performed by Charles Vaude [Side 1] ; unidentified song performed by an unidentifed dance orchestra [Side 2] (1938). Recorded in the studios of Radio Station 3DB and released by 3DB.
'Air Check' ; [Side 1] 'Smile Away' [Side 2] (ca. 1930s). From Radio Station 3DB's Smile Away Club program. Performers Charlie Vaude and Ren Miller. [see 3DB Radio Broadcast].
Smile Away: A Nostalgic Excursion - Melbourne 1925-1931 [Kenatone compilation ; K-101] ('Smile Away', performed by Charlie Vaude).
World War I [NFSA In-house compilation] ('If England Wants a Hand' - performed by Harrison Latimer).