[Ads-l] Dancin' (and other kinds of) Fools

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Sun Apr 28 17:13:01 UTC 2019

The phrase was current enough that Will Rogers (a veteran of vaudeville) was surely playing off it when he called his 1921 film “The Ropin’ Fool.” Incidentally, in showing rope tricks, it was one of the first movies to use slow motion, if not the first.

You can see the complete 20-minute film on YouTube. I recommend it. https://youtu.be/q0oIVJjSh8o <https://youtu.be/q0oIVJjSh8o>

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date:    Sat, 27 Apr 2019 05:37:48 +0000
> From:    Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: "dancing fool" 'a fool for dancing'
> Newspapers.com has examples of a Vaudeville act in the 1900-1910s called 
> the "Dancing Fools" and later called "The Girl and the Dancing Fool."
> In 1920 there was a film called "The Dancing Fool."
> And in 1922 there was a hit song called "The Dancing Fool" (A song 
> called "Hot Lips" was out at the same time).
> ------ Original Message ------
> From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at stanford.edu>
> To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
> Sent: 4/26/2019 4:12:32 PM
> Subject: "dancing fool" 'a fool for dancing'
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
>> Subject:      "dancing fool" 'a fool for dancing'
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> i've stumbled on this formulaic expression in preparing a posting (it comes=
>> up in a song from the Broadway show "Once Upon a Mattress", a song sung by=
>> the Jester -- i.e., a fool), and started to track it down, but easy places=
>> on the net provided nothing useful, and (in my latest computer screwup) th=
>> e OED is at least temporarily unavailable to me.  it isn't crucial to my po=
>> sting, but my curiosity has been piquied...
>> is there literature about the the history of this expression?  is there a h=
>> istory of a larger usage "V-ing fool"?  (or are such occurrences parasitic =
>> on "dancing fool"?)
>> arnold
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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