A long-running, immersive San Francisco reenactment event dreamed up by the same people who pioneered the modern Renaissance Fair. The Dickens Fair turns a landmark warehouse into Christmas Eve in 19th century London over the weekends in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As the name suggests, Charles Dickens and his literary creations (particularly from A Christmas Carol) are featured heavily, but there are also plenty of other sights, sounds and even smells offered in terms of food, crafts, and entertainment. It's basically for people who feel that Ren Faires are a little too far in the past, but ComicCon/Cosplay events are equally too modern/futuristic. That qualifies the Fair as either a tourist trap, or the most fun you can have with too many clothes on...
Learn more about the Fair here.
The Great Charles Dickens Christmas Fair provides examples of:
- The Alcoholic: "Edgar Allen Poe"◊ not only plays piano◊ at Mad Sal's for drinks◊, he's dragged onstage◊ and forced to sing a silly song◊ to pay for his bar/floozy tab.
- Badass Beard/Badass Mustache: Quite prevalent. Slides into Beard of Evil for some of the nastier characters. For the nautical equivalent, see the entry for The Drunken Sailor.
- Becoming the Mask: If you find yourself in conversation with, say, "David Copperfield" or "H.G. Wells", it is a point of pride that they will never break character, come hell or high water. This frequently holds true if you are online or IRL friends with the performer in question.
- British Accents: Part and parcel with Becoming the Mask. See also (and contrast with) Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
- Burlesque: The adults-only "Naughty French Postcards Revue" and their bare-breasted "Tableaux Vivant."
- Celebrity Impersonator: Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Queen Victoria, etc.
- Chorus Girls:
- Many Fair goers will tell you flat-out that they attend solely for the performances of Le Cancan Bijou. Being a◊ cancan◊ troupe◊, expect examples of Show Some Leg, Stocking Filler, Panty Shot, Ms. Fanservice, and Zettai Ryouiki (Grade A). Also Public Domain Soundtrack (they perform to the traditional Offenbach "Infernal Galop").
- If you were to poll the Fair's photographers between 2008 and 2011, most would agree that dancer "Vaudie Va-Boom"◊ was the Ensemble Dark Horse of Le Cancan Bijou.
- At the 2012 Fair, newly-added Mad Sal's chanteuse "Miss Winnie Woopsie Tappertit" offered up an impressive solo cancan◊ to the English music-hall standard "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Aye."
- Cloudcuckoolander: ''Figgy LaFontaine,''◊ shown here conversing with her stuffed pigeon. She's a bit...off. Her musical performances are Mood Whiplash taken Up to Eleven, as she slingshots between Stepford Smiler and Rage Breaking Point. Take a look...
- Culture Equals Costume: Street urchins don't dress like the Royal Family, and vice versa.
- Dances and Balls: Fezziwig's Warehouse is literally just this, albeit the working/middle-class version of it.
- Dance of Romance: This is the entire reason why Fezziwig's Warehouse exists in both the Fair as a whole and in its place in the plotline of A Christmas Carol, as it is where The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to see his younger self fall in love with and then get his heart broken by his sweetheart Belle.
- Darker and Edgier:
- Actor/musician Lee Presson encountered this when he first approached the Fair's organizers with the idea of playing Edgar Allan Poe. Asked if the author of "The Tell-Tale Heart" might be a bit...dark for a Christmas-themed event, Presson retorted "Have you READ some of Dickens' stuff?" They saw his point, and he's been Poe-ing it up ever since.
- Also, Nancy's murder at the hands of Bill Sikes◊ qualifies. That it happens within the PG-13 (and otherwise comically ribald) confines of Mad Sal's joint makes it no less disturbing. The 2014 Fair turned the scene Up to Eleven with Bet the pickpocket discovering Nancy's body◊ and Sal herself vowing revenge. (It wound up being too effective: the following year, the Fair's organizers requested the entire death scene be scrapped...)
- Deadpan Snarker: The "Chairman Obadiah Feltrup" character at Mad Sal's Revue:
Chairman: "Now, there's one thing at Mad Sal's that is strictly forbidden..."
Fellow cast member: "Sobriety?"
Chairman: "All right, two things that are strictly forbidden..."
Audience member: "What about promiscuity?"
Chairman: "That's encouraged."
- Den of Iniquity: Mad Sal's Dockside Alehouse. Might also qualify as The City Narrows and Not-So-Safe Harbor.
- The Drunken Sailor: Paddy West's band sings classic sea shanties, as well as shilling their own "brand" of booze◊. Also an example of Seadog Beard.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Younger female guests who want to dress up - but don't want to go the full hoopskirt-and-bonnet route - often chose this as a costuming Plan B.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
Chairman: "When you tell this joke to your friends at school...and the teacher asks you 'Where did you hear that?!?'...you tell them Fezzzz..i..wiiiiig's."
- You'd have to go back to the glory days of Benny Hill to count this many English-accented double entendres per minute. Most of the performances at Mad Sal's (which tend to be wall-to-wall bawdy songs) are built around this trope, to the point where the Dickens Fair website gives those shows a Parental Advisory note. For parents who ignore this advisory, Chairman Obadiah offers this Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story to the kiddies:
- The 2015 Fair added a Sign Language interpreter to several of the performances - including the Mad Sal's Revue, whose veteran cast members were often doubled over in uncontrollable laughter as she signed their bawdy lyrics while maintaining the straightest of faces.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: The roughly 50% of the audience NOT in period garb.
- Hollywood History/Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: It's a perfect recreation of Victorian London! Except without, y'know, the crime. And the tuberculosis. And the stench from the River Thames...
- I Can't Dance: Do not try to use this as an excuse to not join the festivities at Fezziwig's Warehouse, especially if you are male and under thirty years old. The ladies of the Warehouse will take this as a personal challenge, and really you're going to end up joining in whether you like it or not.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Poe assuring Mad Sal "I had every intention of paying my bar tab...but I seem to be a little short.◊" See also The Alcoholic.
- Large and in Charge: Mad Sal◊. (Also Queen Victoria.)
- Large Ham: The Dickens villains (Scrooge, Bill Sikes, Fagin) happily crank this trope up to BRIAN BLESSED levels.
- Leg Cling: This "seaside holiday" number.◊ And yes, the young lady is wearing a shark fin on her head. Doubles as Fan Disservice for the gent's beachwear.
- Life of the Party: This is canon about Mr. Fezziwig and is played to full effect in Fezziwig's Warehouse at the Fair:
- But if they had been twice as many — ah, four times — old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would have become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut — cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger. (Chapter 2, A Christmas Carol)
- Loveable Rogue:
- The Need for Mead: Along with bangers 'n' mash and fish 'n' chips, real mead is available in the food courts.
- No Fourth Wall: Many of the songs at Mad Sal's are audience participation numbers. The performers are quick to remind the crowd that the wall is missing — and those who DON'T join in will be gleefully singled out.
- Of Corset Hurts/Of Corsets Sexy: The Dark Gardens corset shop, with its front windows featuring live models, rivals Mad Sal's as a popular destination for visitors and photographers alike. Dancers from Le Cancan Bijou not only double as window models◊, but wear corsets (and not much else◊) during the end-of-the-night blowouts at Mad Sal's.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Averted surprisingly well, considering there's a large cast of Northern Californians portraying gentry and Cockney alike.
- Opera: The Royal Light Opera Gala offer a daily dose of the stuff, primarily Gilbert and Sullivan (no surprise there), and with the expected doses of Large Ham and Incredibly Long Note.
- Our Ghosts Are Different:
- Pantomime/Punch and Judy: Where you park the kids who aren't ready for Mad Sal's...
- The Patriarch: Arguably, Charles Dickens himself◊.
- The Piano Player: This lucky bastard...◊
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Dickens performers tend to be the Venn diagram intersection of Renaissance Fair participants, general-purpose historical reenactors, community theater regulars, cosplay practitioners, and neo-burlesque crazies. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
- Santa Claus: What part of Christmas Fair did you not get?
- Spoiled Brat: Miss Kitty Purswell◊, and later Miss Drucilla Darling. Their signature song is "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow".
- Steampunk: Not only is there a walking steam man, but daily lectures are given on real steam technology at the Adventurer's Club. (Did you know Charles Babbage designed a real computer a hundred years before the information era began?)
- Street Performer
- Street Urchin: Fagin's gang of pickpockets.◊ The young lady on the right also qualifies as an Affectionate Pickpocket.
- True Meaning of Christmas: And not just because of A Christmas Carol being a major part of the Fair's DNA. It may be one of the few places where performers and attendees regularly wish each other "Happy Christmas!" without the slightest trace of irony.
- Victorian London: Arguably The Theme Park Version.