Tabarin - Encyclopedia

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TABARIN (Fr. tabard, Ital. tabarrino, a small cloak), the name assumed by Jean Salomon (c. 1584-1633), a Parisian street charlatan, who amused his audiences in the Place Dauphine by farcical dialogue with his partner Mondor (Phillippe Girard), with whom he reaped a golden harvest by the sale of quack medicines. A contemporary portrait shows him in the dress of a clown, but with a moustache and pointed beard, carrying a wooden sword and wearing a soft grey felt hat capable of assuming countless amusing shapes in his deft fingers. His regular evening antics were varied by more elaborate weekly performances in which others appeared, notably his wife. In these he took the part of a fat old fool, but his jokes, while usually coarse, were frequently clever, and his extemporized speeches were full of originality. He is said to have influenced both Moliere and La Fontaine. The latter praises him, and he is also well spoken of by Boileau and Voltaire.

He retired about 1628, and died on the 16th of August 1633. Numerous farces and dialogues, partly or wholly his, or in his repertoire, were credited to him, and long series of cheap leaflets purporting to be his complete works began to appear as early as 1622. Two rival editions, in two volumes and one volume respectively, were published as late as 1858. The word Tabarin, spelt with a capital, has been adopted into the French language to designate the comic performer of a street booth.

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