AskDefine | Define pigmeat

Extensive Definition

Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham (April 18, 1904 in Durham, North CarolinaDecember 13, 1981 in The Bronx, New York City, New York) was an African American entertainer. Though best known as a comedian, Markham was also a singer, dancer, and actor. His nickname came from a stage routine, in which he declared himself to be "Sweet Poppa Pigmeat."
He was born in Durham, North Carolina. Later, he claimed he originated the Truckin' dance which became nationally popular at the start of the 1930s. In the 1940s he started making film appearances. In 1964 he recorded "Open the Door, Richard".
Markham was a familiar act at New York's famed Apollo Theater where he wore blackface makeup and huge painted white lips, although some complained this vaudeville tradition was degrading. He probably played at the Apollo more frequently then any other performer. Starting in the 1950s Pigmeat Markham began appearing on television, making multiple appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.
His boisterous, indecorous "heyeah (here) come da judge" schtick, which made a mockery of formal courtroom etiquette, became his signature routine. Markham would sit at an elevated judge's bench (often in a black graduation cap-and-gown, to look more impressive), and deal with a series of comic miscreants. He would often deliver his 'judgments,' as well as express frustration with the accused, by leaning over the bench and smacking the accused with an inflated bladder-balloon. It was parodied in The Simpson famous Treehouse of Horror series. He had hit comedy recordings in the 1960s on Chess Records, and saw his routine's entry line become a catch phrase on the Laugh-In television show, as did his phrase "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls".
Ironically, Markham's most famous routine was 'discovered' by the general public only after Sammy Davis, Jr. had performed it as a guest on Laugh-In. Due to the years of racial discrimination in the entertainment world, Markham had almost exclusively performed on the "chitlin' circuit" of vaudeville, theatres, and night clubs Archie Campbell later adapted Markham's routine, performing as "Justus O'Peace," on the country version of Laugh-In, Hee Haw, which borrowed heavily from the minstrel show tradition.
Thanks to his Heyeah come da judge routine, which originally was accompanied by music with a funky beat, Pigmeat Markham is regarded as a forerunner of rappers. His song "Here Come the Judge" peaked at number 19 on the Billboard and other charts in 1968. He published an autobiography, Here Come the Judge!, in the wake of his Laugh-In success.

References

pigmeat in French: Dewey Markham
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