Category Archives: Dancing Pig

Fresh Young Audience Loves Funny Old Films

The Dancing PigOur event was something like this (with Dean Mora, not Mildred Smith, at the piano).

“It was just amazing!
We had never had an audience like that before.”

On a recent Saturday evening, Scott Lasky, founder of Famous Players Orchestra, hosted an itinerant show billed as

Hand-Cranked 35mm Film on

Original Power’s 1909 Cameragraph Model 6
Motion Picture Machine
with Live Musical Accompaniment

The March 5, 2016 event was held at the Christ Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. Admission was $10 for a 2-hour show with intermission (program listed below).

I, Joe Rinaudo, cranked the projector and Dean Mora played the piano. Gary Gibson changed the glass slides during intermission. And the audience blew us all away!

Same old show, brand new audience

I’ve done over some 200 shows and, for the first time, having advertised on Facebook thanks to Scott Lasky, we got a young, effervescent, 30-something crowd in there. From the very beginning there was an electricity in the air. They were laughing and talking and buying hot dogs and popcorn and looking around and talking to everybody and inspecting the projector. It wasn’t the same audience that we usually get, which is mostly elderly and rather quiet. (They don’t laugh or talk very much, as they are familiar with this format as well as the films.) This was a young, new crowd and a new experience for them—and they even induced the “regulars” to laugh and enjoy the show even more.


When we started the first film, The Dancing Pig (featuring the ever-popular but always slightly disturbing dancing pig), brought forth gales of laughter and howling and cheering—and shock—from the audience. The response just kept growing and growing, and by the time we got to The Grocery Clerk, which is one of Larry Semon’s masterpieces, it brought the house down. We had people laughing hysterically. They were booing the villain, cheering the heroine, and shouting and laughing.

The audience saw a “moving picture” for the first time

It struck me that this is what the reaction would have been like for a 1920 audience seeing this film for the first time. Many of these people not only had never seen a silent film before, but they have never seen a show like this with live musical accompaniment and a hand-cranked projector doing the whole show for them. So it was a total overload, I think, of their senses. It absolutely floored me because their reaction was so positive and so upbeat. They were catching every little nuance in the film and every little gag was getting laughed at. It was just amazing. We had never had an audience like that before.

Not only was the film entertaining, many people wanted pictures of the projector and with me and with Dean and Gary. We were posing in period costume with the projector and they were filming it with their camera phones and such.

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cinema Society Newsreel.

It was a very interesting evening and everything went all very well. It ended on a big bang with Buster Keaton in Cops and we got a huge cheer and an ovation at the end. It was just a wonderful time.


I had a moment of clarity at that show, a life-changing moment, where suddenly I saw the reason for doing what I’m doing:

I’m bringing something to these people that they had never seen before and that truly entertained them—as if it was an audience that was seeing “moving pictures” for the first time. Because it actually was! It wasn’t a modern film in color and in digital technology in 3D; it was a flat screen black and white image from a hundred years ago.

The audience was also amazed that we were doing all the work by hand—I’m cranking the projector, Gary’s changing the slides and Dean is playing the piano. They listened attentively as I explained the role of the itinerant projectionist traveling from town to town, setting up a show in a hall or church basement, and drawing audiences through advance telegraphed announcements.

This show renewed my faith in humanity. The wonderful young audience is hungry for this type of entertainment.

I realized in this one show that what I’m doing is right, that it does make a difference.

Facebook: the new telegraph

Advertising on Facebook was a whole new dynamic for us. It spread the word and drew the audience, a fresh and curious audience who really didn’t know what to expect, much the same as the telegraph and handbills would have spread the word 100 years ago.

Through our new “telegraph” called social media, and your help in spreading the word, we’ll introduce this 100-year-old form of entertainment to a young, new generation of audiences who are attentive, curious and amazed. After all, you can’t hand-crank an iPhone.

“The Dancing Pig” (1907) Pathe
“The Acrobatic Fly” (1910) Comet Films
“It’s a Gift” (1923) Starring Snub Pollard
“The Rink” (1916) Starring Charlie Chaplin
“The Grocery Clerk” (1920) Starring Larry Semon
“Cops” (1922) Starring Buster Keaton

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cinema Society Newsreel.

The End