Chapeaugraphy

Video: Short Version of Chapeaugraphy-Act Tabarin – Chapeau.

Have you ever heard of Chapeaugraphy? It’s the comedy act of taking a single piece of circular felt and twisting it to make many different types of hats. The roots go back to the streets of Paris, France almost 400 years ago.

The video above will give you a feel for the essence of the act.

History of Chapeaugraphy

Chapeaugraphy, occasionally chapography, is a panhandling trick in which a ring-shaped piece of felt is manipulated to look like various types of hats. The act originated in 1618 with Parisian street performer Tabarin, the most famous of the charlatans who combined a French version of commedia dell’arte with a quack medicine show. Monsieur Fusier, revived the act and managed 15 hat-twisting styles in his act. Although rarely seen today, it was featured in an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1985, as performed by magician Harry Anderson.

Types of hat that can be created:

  • baseball cap
  • American and British army hats from the Revolutionary War
  • pirate’s hat
  • naval captain’s hat
  • Mickey Mouse ears
  • Ushanka (a Russian fur hat)
  • mortarboard (a graduation cap)
  • Catholic nun’s headgear
  • derby hat

and several inventive others.

Some know chapeaugraphers are:

  • Tabarin, a French comdian
  • Monsieur Fusier, another French comedian who revived the act,
  • Paul Wildbaum, a Canadian (?) Magician, and
  • Sir Richard, a New Zealander event host

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