I've often heard the older men of our profession say,
There are better actors off than on the stage,
Who have not the inclination to obtain the approbation
Of the public, or to earn an actor's wage.
That's a fact, and you all know it, if you don't, I'll try to show it,
Take a company promoter who's a swindler all the week,
Gets you cash by methods tricky, mines and things he knows are dicky,
But on Sunday see him in the church so sanctified and meek.

Chorus: And he has the best pew, with its cushions so gay,
And he pays the most rent in a liberal way,
The good vicar of him very proudly will say,
'Of the Scriptures he knows every page.'
Then he hands round the plate with a sanctified air,
Lets them see what he gives, joins in every prayer,
He is after the cash of the true Christians there -
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

An old man of seventy was captured by the charms
Of a maiden, she was twenty - nothing more,
And it shocked his poor relations who from him had expectations
When he married her and gave her wealth galore.
For he loved the maiden dearly, and she loved him - very nearly
She was smart enough to 'kid' him that she loved him as her life,
And she'd coax the poor old fellow with her voice so soft and mellow
When she'd sit upon his knee and say, 'Who loves his little wife?'

Chorus: With her arm around his neck, she would say, 'Oo loves oo?
Kiss your baby, Papa - just another, do!
Naughty boy, don't do that! Now give over. will you,
Or my arms I will soon disengage;
When my dressmaker comes you must settle the bill,
If you grumble at it your poor wife it will kill.'
Thus she coaxed him to name none but her in his will,
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

A city man of good repute whom every one admires,
As a model of benevolence and truth,
When at home he's quite another to his children and their mother,
Whom he greets with words decidedly uncouth.
At his wife he loves to grumble, crushes her and keeps her humble,
She must beg for every penny to supply the household needs.
When he gives an evening party she will smile content and hearty,
For her children's sake she hides from all the wretched life she leads.

Chorus: At the table she sits, and she says, 'Henry, dear,
You must tell us that joke you told us last year -
One of Gilbert's, you know! That's it! - Butler, come here,
More Champagne for darling Mrs Page.
Mr Johnson, more beef, or some fowl will you take?
Miss Devine, there's a dear, some blancmange for my sake!'
She's the gayest one there, though her heart's fit to break -
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

I know a chap who, out of work, once joined a 'Beggar's Club'
And he told me of the many tricks they do,
How they fake their limbs and features just to represent poor creatures,
Who're disabled, and they find it pays them, too!
Every night, when work is over, at the club they live in clover,
And they then divide the money they have begged through öout the day,
Each one has a sign to carry - at some favourite spot must tarry,
Once a gentleman, on passing one, to him did kindly say.

Chorus: 'So you're blind, poor old chap! I've a brother the same
Here is something for you in my poor brother's name,
But it shocked him to hear the poor blind man exclaim,
'That's the fust quid I've seen for a hage!'
Said the toff, 'But you're blind! How can you see it? Come!
Just you answer me that!' Said the beggar quite glum,
'I've the wrong sign today. I was born deaf and dumb.'
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

Inside the court a murderer is placed upon his trial,
And his lawyer knows a guilty wretch is he,
'Tho' to jail for life they'll bear him, from the gallows they must spare him,'
Thinks his counsel as he fights so gallantly.
Blackest evidence is quoted - all of which the judge has noted,
And all hearts are filled with pity for the felon's wife and child.
And some eyes with tears will glisten when the jury calmly listen
While the lawyer thus addresses them with voice sincere and mild.

Chorus: 'You have come here to try this poor man for his life,
And I beg you to gaze on his poor child and wife,
Would you leave them to fight all alone in the strife?
Now in mercy let your thoughts engage.
You are fathers yourselves, and I humbly implore
You to spare this man's life while upholding the law,
My emotions excuse, (bursting in tears) I can ask you no more.'
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

I know a certain part of town where thieves do congregate,
Where the coiners, burglars, pickpockets all dwell,
And the language each one uses - well, a stranger it confuses,
It's a 'lingo' which no one but they can tell.
In the pub. where they are meeting to discuss the world they're cheating,
Comes a dirty-looking loafer, who's as drunk as he can be;
But he's just enough to treat them, and as pals he'll fondly greet them,
Then he reels and falls into a chair, and to himself says he,

Chorus: 'I have spent my last cent, but I don't care a rap,
I am here among pals, brace up, Jimmy, old chap,
(aside) I can rumble their slang, and I've laid a fine trap,
When they know it they'll be in a rage.
Hello! here comes my man, and he's right off his guard,
I have chased him six months and the game has been hard,
(rises suddenly and presents pistol)
Now O'Brien, hands up! I'm a 'tec' from the 'Yard'
That's a bit of acting off the stage!

Written and composed by Walter P. Keen - 1900
Performed by Arthur Lennard (1867-1954)
From Music Hall Lyrics Collection
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