This film is part of Free

The Biter Bit

Film's first joke? A fresh take on an old prank.

Comedy 1898 1 mins Silent


This old foot-on-the-hosepipe chestnut is Britain's take on what is almost certainly the first screen joke. The Lumière brothers' L'Arroseur arrosé (also known, among other titles, as "Le Jardinier" and "Le Jardinier et le petit espiègle") was included in their first ever public screening at the Grand Café in Paris in June 1895. This Bamforth version, released some five years later, was one of a number of remakes - including some by the Lumières themselves. It's a joke that still in circulation today.

Bamforth's version adds much greater depth of field to the original scene. Here the prankster occupies the foreground (the better to share his joke with the audience), with his hapless victim behind him and, in the background, a lawn-mowing third participant - whose comic potential could, it's fair to say, be better developed...