5. Igor Stravinsky’s Riotous Premiere of The Rite of Spring
Legendary classical composer Igor Stravinsky was a bit of a Beck and a Björk in his day. Like a true rock star, Stravinsky heavily modified existing classical rhythmic structure to create disharmonious melodies that enraged audiences like a tall glass of milk-plus. Hearing one of his performances was like going to see a Radiohead concert back when motion pictures were silent and women still wore whalebone corsets.
I.e., before 1990.
During Stravinsky’s 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring in Paris, the audience was supposedly so enraged by the ballet’s dance steps and cacophony of one bassoonist that they booed the performance non-stop. However, once it was clear that the show would go on, the audience responded in kind by exploding in a near-riot.
Nowadays, The Rite of Spring usually leads to a near-orgy.
By the time the Paris police arrived to restore order, Stravinsky was forced to flee the performance, supposedly sobbing the whole way. As you may imagine, the reviews were pretty harsh. However, one Russian art critic named Sergei Diaghilev proudly described the onslaught as, “Just what I wanted.”
Sergei Diaghilev: May 29, 1913.
Somehow, the ballet was able to complete its run of six performances.
4. Daniel Auber’s La Muette de Portici
It is hard to believe that any composer could top Stravinsky when it comes to instigating violence, but French composer Daniel Auber has him beat by a long shot. How do we know this? Because unlike the disastrous 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, one 1830 performance of Auber’s La Muette de Portici go so out of hand that it took a whole goddamn country down with it.
That’s right; what started as a mere opera riot exploded into a full-blown revolution: the Belgian Revolution, which separated Belgium from the Netherlands. While tensions had already been high between these parties for some time, a special performance of La Muette de Portici August 25, 1830 apparently pushed the crowd off the edge; the duet “Amour sacré de la patrie”, [Sacred love of Fatherland] in particular. The audience took to the streets immediately afterwards, and a declaration of independence followed on October 4. By the time all the dust settled, Belgium had formally separated from the Netherlands after more than 350 years.
We’re not sure if that guy’s holding a list of grievances, or a playbill.
3. The Friar’s Club Roast of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
There are countless rules that every actor must follow when going on-stage: don’t break character, don’t lose the audience, don’t fart unless you absolutely need to; things like that. As such, you don’t need to be an Einstein to figure that one very basic rule to follow is that you don’t accidentally kill anyone, never mind yourself. Tragically, this is precisely how comedian Harry Parke, father of Albert Brooks, died in 1958.
Interestingly, Harry Parke’s real life last name was Einstein.
During the Friar’s Club Roast of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on November 24, 1958, Harry Parke delivered a hilarious testimonial that was met with fantastic applause. He then sat next to comedian Milton Berle and collapsed into his lap. It took the audience quite a while to figure out what was going on since many people thought this was part of his act. His death was ruled as a heart attack.
Honestly, there are worse places to die than Milton Berle’s lap.
2. Samurai Stockbroker
Ever since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, it seems like the worst thing you can get away with on SNL is accidentally dropping the f-bomb or maybe showing a bit too much butt crack.
Unless, of course, you were Chris Farley.
However, all these pale in comparison to what happened to writer/comedian Buck Henry when he hosted the show on October 30, 1976. During the skit “Samurai Stockbroker,” John Belushi accidentally struck Buck Henry on the forehead with a samurai sword.
In all fairness, he was dressed like this at the time.
Fortunately, the blow could not have come at a better time in the sketch since Buck’s character was about to jump out a makeshift window. He had to wear a bandage on his head for the rest of the episode, but the show went on which the entire cast wearing bandages as a hilarious sign of support. As for Buck, he not only survived but returned to host the show seven more times.
Why SNL always has a full-time barber on hand.
1. Buster Keaton Breaks His Neck, But Keeps On Filming
As we have mentioned earlier, Buster Keaton was no stranger to danger during the silent era. His movies were less about plot or storytelling, and more about watching a man survive an elaborate Saw-trap in real time.
As pictured here.
However, when it comes to sheer insanity, his 1924 film Sherlock, Jr. leaves all his films behind. During one scene where he ran on top of a moving train, he broke his neck after getting blasted with water and falling onto a train rail. Not only did this not kill him, he didn’t even know or care it happened and just continued with the film.
Oh, and the sickest part? You can watch it happen here:
Seriously, what was this guy’s problem with trains?