Wednesday, 4 February 2009


The use of the phrase "GET THE HOOK" was first attributed to the Miner's Bowery Theatre (circa 1903) where Henry Miner (above) presented Amateur Night every other Friday. Miner's Bowery Theatre was one of several owned by impresario Henry Miner and the Amateur Night format was one of his most popular and profitable shows. Anyone willing to take the stage and perform at Miner's during the evening was paid $1, regardless of quality of talent. The audience was at liberty to give full expression to their approval or dislike to the offerings of the contestants for the winning prizes.
169, The Bowery originally Miner's Bowery Theatre

One Friday night, in October 1903, a particularly bad amateur was inflicting an impatient audience, with a truly appalling tenor solo and despite howls, groans and cat-calls, the artist persisted in staying on. Whereupon Henry Miner who was running the show, saw a large old-fashioned crook-handled cane which had been used by one of the Negro impersonators. Quickly he had the stage manager, lash it to a long pole, and with this he stepped into the wings without getting into sight of the audience, and deftly slipped the hook around the singer's neck and yanked him off the stage before he knew what happened. The next amateur performer was giving a rather poor impersonation when a small boy yelled "give 'im the hook!". The audience roared and the poor performer fled in dismay. Thus the tradition of 'hooking' unpopular performers off the stage, to save the audience further discomfort, was born, and which has been followed in many other establishments during Talent Shows and is used to describe anyone fired for incompetence.

Amateur Nights at Miner's Bowery Theatre were well advertised with posters put up throughout the area, in shop windows like above.

Two hopeful (and brave) performers

Over the years stars appearing at Miner's Bowery Theatre including Fanny Brice, Joe Cook, and George White endured the ordeal of the hook.

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