Tommy Lorne: Funniest Stage Scotsman of All Time?

Just a very few words of tribute for Scottish music hall clown Tommy Lorne (Hugh Gallagher Corcoran, 1890-1935), who has been called “the funniest stage Scotsman of all time” and, more temperately, “probably the most naturally gifted Scottish comedian of the interwar years” . Born in Kirkintilloch, Lorne grew up in Glasgow and started out performing in local theatres there. Prior to World War One, he was part of a team called Wallace and Lorne. Lorne was a popular pantomime dame, but I am also intrigued by descriptions of his regular music hall personality, which seems to have smashed up elements of European whiteface clown with exaggerated Scots stereotype. In addition to the whiteface and clownish touches like oversized shoes and a tiny jacket, he wore a Glengarry and kilt. “Sausages are the boys” was one of his many popular catchphrases. His character is said to have spoken in a strangled, high pitched comedy voice. At least one extant comedy record from the early 1930s can attest to that. Lorne first came to our notice because he appeared in two DeForest Phonofim sound shorts in 1927, The Lard Song and Tommy Lorne and “Dumplings”. 

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous