Rubber Chickens. Yes, rubber chickens. Oh, Happy April Fools Day by the way!
Rubber chickens are a prop typically used in comedy. Historically, their origins are a bit mysterious as nobody really knows for sure how they started. There are a lot of ideas of how they came about and not a lot of specific evidence.
One of the most common thoughts is that rubber chickens started with medieval jesters.
From the blog Modern Farmer, Andy Wright writes an article about the origins of the rubber chicken. Lawrence E. Mintz is the professor emeritus of the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland and also an editorial board member of Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. In an interview, Mintz supposes that the rubber chicken has it’s origins in medieval comedy when jesters would use props that were readily available including chicken corpses. Although that’s rather a morbid beginning for comedy, it’s plausible. The Medival ages were the source for some messed up things.
The rubber chicken museum agrees with it saying they can trace the origins all the way to medieval jesters. You read that right. In Seattle, there is a rubber chicken museum located in the Archie Mcphee store since 2018. They boast, “As the home to the world’s largest rubber chicken and the world’s smallest rubber chicken, you’ll stand slack-jawed in awe in front of our display of plastic poultry.”
The exhibit even features an academic essay by renowned rubber chicken expert Kirk Demarais that brings forth the historical context of the rubber chicken. And you thought this article was going to be all kinds of silly, not academic!
Though Mintz continues on to say that it was not the medieval jester stage that brought the rubber chicken into the spotlight but burlesque performances. Comedians “baggy pants” comedians would smack each other with the chickens. Mintz explains that it was a “pretty primitive and gross form of entertainment, not just the comedy part of it but the striptease and all of that”
Wright even suggests that the rubber prop could even be supposed to be dirty or even phallic.
“I suppose it’s a possibility,” says Mintz, sounding doubtful. “Especially considering the body cavities in the chicken. But I never really thought about it that way.”
Wright also interviewed Dwight Blocker Bowers, an entertainment curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Bowers suggests that it could be a variation on slapstick comedy. The rubber chicken makes a rather loud obnoxious noise. It’s jarring, and in your face.
“Vaudeville thrived on absurd situations,” says Bowers. “Physical comedy was used at the time for an audience of many different ethnic types and it didn’t depend on dialog.”
“It’s kind of like, why do people still like The Three Stooges?” says Mintz. “It’s almost because it’s defiant. It’s brutally witless and has no art to it. It’s in your face. ‘I’m going to laugh at this whether you like it or not. yes, I know it’s not sophisticated.’”
It’s been used in comedy acts with a range. They’re used in burlesque shows, stand up comedy, television shows, cartoons, and it’s also been used in Science.
There was even a rubber chicken that made it to space in the spring of 2012. A group of high school students in Bishop, California, launched a rubber chicken loaded up with sensors to measure the radiation of an intense radiation storm – the strongest since 2003. The chicken that was launched was not any normal chicken but Camilla the mascot of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
During her flight she flew into one of the strongest proton storms in years which included over 50 solar flares. when she launched the satellites orbiting earth reported a huge count in protons, which were 30,000 times the normal amount.
Though it’s main aspect is comedic. Here are some internet examples. because who doesn’t love Youtube videos with Rubber chickens?
Although they’re meant for comedy, that’s not all they’re used for. Many musicians have taken to using them as an instrument. This creates a genre of music covers made from rubber chickens. Yes, you did read that correctly. And yes, I do have a list of rubber chicken cover songs.
Seriously he kind of dominates Youtube with his covers.
And they’re all pretty fantastic. This one is a cover of “Africa” originally by Toto. This is done with the rubber chicken and an actual chicken. The actual chicken does not seem impressed with him.
Now because it’s been such a popular song to cover, of course, we needed to provide a cover of “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish. Chicken Fla brings forth the chicken flavour!
This cover, as odd as it is, is a great addition to your everyday music playlist. Imagine the surprise on people’s faces as you get handed the aux cord!
Chickensan provides an energetic cover of the “Immigrant Song” originally by Led Zepplin. I love this cover so much, personally. I can’t stop giggling over how dramatic the rubber chicken sounds.
For all you country lovers out there, here’s some rubber chicken Lil Nas X covers. You may not think you need it but here’s a rubber chicken cover of “Old Town Road. Lemonade Psycho brings in a great deal of energy and swagger.
Who knew a rubber chicken had country swagger?
Slowing it down for you lovers out there is Franco Muñoz’s cover of “Despacito”. Sweet and loving in a chicken cover doesn’t sound like it should work. But by golly, it does!
It’s amazing how well this song works for a rubber chicken cover. Though, I’m sure that’s exactly what Luis Fonsi thought when creating this song.
To get your blood pumping with some dancing here’s YMCA. It’s also a chicken cover, because that’s what this article is all about. Thanks to Chiccles, the internet has another Rubber chicken cover and it’s beautiful.