The Peanut Gallery

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 26 - Peanuts In The Shell - Doodlewash

Back in the days of vaudeville, a peanut gallery was the nickname for the cheapest and certainly the rowdiest set of seats in a theatre. These were the seats farthest from the stage and the folks sitting back there were known to yell at and heckle the performers on stage. Since peanuts were also the cheapest snack available for these rabble-rousers, it quickly became known as the peanut gallery. I didn’t learn any of this until much later in life, but as a kid I enjoyed watching reruns of a show called Howdy Doody. This was a show that featured marionettes in the leading roles and little kids sitting in a section known as the peanut gallery who were encouraged to laugh, cheer, or boo at all the crazy things that happened. It was a perfectly odd show, but I really liked it as a very little kid and even had a Howdy Doody lunchbox that I proudly brought to school with me. I’ve no idea why all of this came to mind in this moment, but painting peanuts apparently brought back these memories. 

The idea of joyfully cheering or booing at something was rather delightful to me as a kid. On the Howdy Doody show, booing was simply joining in the fun and not something that was ever meant to be mean. Later, when I was in college, I would spend a few years on stage at a local theatre known as Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Company. These were fabulously ridiculous shows performed in two parts. The first part was a spoof of some famous story, and the audience was encouraged to cheer for the hero and boo for the villain. In the first show I did there, I was d’Artagnan in the The Three Musketeers. In the papers, one reviewer referred to me as having “cartoon-like good looks,” which meant I was forever cast as the hero from that point forward. Only once, when I had to step in at the last moment for another actor was I ever able to play the villain and experience being booed when I came on stage. It was fun! The second half of the show was a vaguely related series of vaudeville musical numbers that were the equivalent of Saturday Night Live had it existed in the 1920’s. And yes, the entire floor of the theatre was completely littered with peanut shells.

Those were really fun years in my life and they now seem like a lifetime ago. In truth, it was a period exactly half way through my current life and one that I’ll always treasure. And though I’m actually a rather shy person, being on stage helped me gain a bit of self-confidence. Today, that’s likely why I was able to fearlessly start posting every single watercolor I made from the moment I started. Sure, it was entirely possible that I could get booed off stage when it came to social media. But, I had learned that even that could be really fun as it meant you caused a reaction of some kind at least. So, really, whether I came across as the hero or the villain, I didn’t mind at all. I was just glad to show up and share what I created. There aren’t many vaudeville theatres in existence today, in the original version of them, at least. But there’s a ton of crazy stuff on YouTube that people post every second and we’re all watching it for free, in the cheap seats. Perhaps, in the end, not much has really changed at all. We can all still joyfully cheer or boo at the crazy things we see each day, this time behind phones and computers, that have simply become the modern form of the peanut gallery.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 26 - Peanuts In The Shell - Doodlewash


Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on, contact me!

  1. Sandra Strait 10 months ago

    Your peanuts are perfectly painted and your perusing perfectly penned! I shall have to gather a pack of peanuts so I can throw them at my computer screen while watching silly shows. I know it won’t be as fun as throwing them at live actors – something I’ve never been able to do, alas, but at least I’ll be able to eat the peanuts afterwards!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕and haha! True! Sounds like a fun time really! We should all do it more often!

  2. Sharon Nolfi 10 months ago

    That’s a lovely peanut! In the 1950’s, kindergarten got out at noon – just in time to get home and see the Howdy Doody show broadcast live. I never realized he was a puppet until one of my grown children pointed it out years later – that’s how real he seemed and how naive I was.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Oh wow! hehe… Yeah he was pretty real back them to me as well! Then sort of creepy when I look back as an adult! lol But it was such a fun show! Great memories! 😃💕

  3. Jodi 10 months ago

    Hero – always 🙂

  4. memadtwo 10 months ago

    Well now I know the origin of Peanut Gallery…you are full of interesting facts, Charlie. And they look delicious! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 hehe… I’m a trivia machine some days! lol Glad you liked this!

      • memadtwo 10 months ago

        I can always count on you for some interesting facts to inject into the conversation.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

          hehe!! Thanks! Although I probably shouldn’t be responsible for other’s conversations. I can’t help but say whatever comes to mind. 😊

  5. Laura M Bailey 10 months ago

    Lol I remember howdy doody! One of those things you forget thst you knew.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      That’s awesome, Laura! 😃💕 Glad this brought back the memories for you!

  6. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 10 months ago

    Charlie, I love this post about being courageous enough to be exactly who you are, peanut shells and boos aside.
    I thought I wanted to be an actress until I realized I had terrible stage fright – also, not as great an actor as I’d hoped and the wrong looks for every role except the dumpy, frumpy old lady ones. LOL. Still, I have so much respect for anyone willing to get up on stage and perform. Good for you!

    BTW, the peanuts portrait is perfect.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕Yeah, it’s rather easy to get type cast, as I found out as well! hehe… but it was a fun time. They say you should imagine everyone in the audience naked to get over stage fright, but they always seemed more frightening than the alternative. 😉

  7. smzang 10 months ago

    magnificent detail on your peanut

    btw you are a true hero for the arts and artists
    and for all of us who read you voraciously and
    with great appreciation.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 I’m so thrilled you enjoy these posts. It really does motivate me to keep right on painting and writing each day!

  8. Rod Fletcher 10 months ago

    I don’t think you have the tradition of pantomine over the pond. Cheers and boos are the name of the game. We (two pensioners) managed to see ours a few weeks ago. The local villain is terrific and plays up beautifuly in response to the boos. We love it, and it attracts quite a few from the USA – some who come just to see it!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      That sounds so fun, Rod!! I would totally go see that! Some of the shows I was in would have benefitted from pantomime as the lines were just silly! lol 😉

      • Rod Fletcher 10 months ago

        You would love it. It has been filmed and kept in archives at the Victoria and Albert Museum because it is so traditional. That’s in York…. a good place to visit if you’re planning LOL

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

          It’s actually been years since I’ve been to the UK, so I’m definitely due for a visit! 😉

  9. Pamela Smith 10 months ago

    Perfect peanuts,Charlie

  10. Anita Sinha 10 months ago

    Yummy peanuts Charlie..I have heard about peanut salaries but now I know about the peanut gallery as well..Enjoyed your post..!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks, Anita! 😃💕 hehe… yeah… peanut salaries are definitely a thing as well. The peanut gallery is far more fun! lol

  11. Delores Azary 9 months ago

    Your painting is great! I did not know where the term “Peanut Gallery” originated! I love it! When I was in elementary school they taught us about George Washington Carver and his recipes (including peanut butter), along with 100s of industrial uses, for peanuts. He helped save the economy of the South.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks, Delores! 😃💕 Yes! We learned the same about peanuts… George Washington Carver was a bit of a genius!

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