Lion comique

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George Leybourne, one of the first lions comiques, on a sheet music cover by Alfred Concanen

The lion comique was a type of popular entertainer in the Victorian music halls, a parody of upper-class toffs or "swells" made popular by Alfred Vance and G. H. MacDermott, among others. They were artistes whose stage appearance, resplendent in evening dress, contrasted with the cloth-cap image of most of their music-hall contemporaries.

The songs the lions comiques sang were "hymns of praise to the virtues of idleness, womanising and drinking",[1] perhaps the most well known of which is George Leybourne's Champagne Charlie. The lion comique deliberately distorted social reality for amusement and escapism.[2]

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Bibliography

  • Kift, Dagmar; Kift, Roy (1996), The Victorian Music Hall: Culture, Class and Conflict, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-47472-6 
  • Vicinus, Martha (1975), Industrial Muse: Study of Nineteenth Century British Working-class Literature, Croom Helm social history series (1 ed.), Croom Helm, ISBN 978-0-85664-131-2