Tuesday, October 17, 2006

John Cooper on Bubi and Jule

As promised, John Cooper with more information on
the clown duo Bubi and Jule...


On 14 July The Alley featured a photo of Bubi and Jule
(misspelled as "Jules") at Blackpool Tower Circus in
1976. (And lest you're wondering, they were there in
addition to Charlie Cairoli, not instead of him.) They
were a son and father combination from what was then
East Germany, Jule being the father.

Prior to their appearance at Blackpool, they had
recorded a television special for Billy Smart's
Circus, and in the summer of 1980 they played a season
for David Smart (son of Billy, and father of Yasmin,
currently with Big Apple Circus) at Battersea Park,
London. By this time the act was three-handed -
presumably with the addition of another son - although
it was still billed a s Bubi and Jule.

Their main spot involved the cleaning of an aerial
prop. Not only was it funny, but it was also very
skilful. Imagine Jule holding a bucket by the handle
whilst Bubi holds on to it by the rim, swinging
slightly so that water tips on to him. And all without
any safety device. A strenthened bucket, I grant you,
but would you do it?

Bubi wore special braces. (Suspenders if you prefer,
but that means something completelt different to an
Englishman like me.) They were made of bungee elastic,
so you can picture what happened. And, again, without
any safety device.

Add to that, the English language spoken slowly and
deliberately in thick Eastren bloc accents.

"Oh Boo-bee!"

"What is it, Yoo-la?"

Two particular expressions were hilarious in such
voices, and I hope I can convey the idea in writing.

"Eee bah goom."

It's an expression from northern England, more
accurately written "Eee by gum", but the local accent
changes it, even before a German gets to it. It's an
expression of surprise or disbelief.

And once up on the aerial prop, Jule would run his
finger along its surface and then say "Look at the
muck on here". The meaning of the expression is
self-explanatory, and, again, it's native to the area
that includes Blackpool, although its use had spread,
mainly because it was a catchphrase of a very popular
comedian of the time - who worked camp. And here it is
emerging from the mouth of a dour East german. The
contrast strengthened the effect, I assure you.

Both expressions would have been provided by
Blackpool's ringmaster, Norman Barrett, who filled
that position for one season on Big Apple (1998-99?)
as well as appearing in the stage show the following
season. Furthermore, he's the former husband of Sue
Lenz (as in Sue and Rudi Lenz; as in chimpanzees) the
two remaining friends.

Writing this and remembereing Bubi and Jule has
created a warmth within me. I know that Jule (actually
Julius) is no longer with us, and is buried in Berlin,
but I'm afraid I have no idea what became of Bubi or
his brother.

John Cooper.


Anonymous said...

Great info...thanks John. Diden't they also do an entree with a chicken? I seem to remember seeing this on a Monte Carlo TV special from the mid 70's.


Anonymous said...

Indeed they did, Greg. And I think that's ot shown on 14 July (or whenever I said). In effect they had a career on just 3 routines. Some have moaned about that. I say "Why not?" Surely it's equivalent to vaudeville/variety acts who made a career of the one routine - until television came along. The thief of material.
Pros and cons to both.
Good to hear from you, Greg. Should be seeing Willer over the Christmas period. Any message?


Anonymous said...


What's the third routine? And please give Willer my best when you see him.


Anonymous said...

Will do for both. When I remember the 3rd routine I'll let you know, probably via Toto.


Anonymous said...

Will do for both. When I remember the 3rd routine I'll let you know, probably via Toto.


Unknown said...

As a matter of fact, in 1976 they were NOT a father son duo, but an uncle nephew duo. When Bubi (Karl Ehmke) stopped, probable around 1980, Jule's (Julius Ehmke) son started working with his father.

Jule has unfortunately died in the meantime and Bubi is working as a public employee in Berlin :-)

Linsi said...

I worked in Blackpool Tower Circus in the summer of 1976 when Jule was indeed working with his nephew Karl as Bubi. They were hilarious!