The Karnival Kid

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : July 31, 1929

Running Time : 7:40

Synopsis

Mickey's selling hot dogs at the fair and heckling rival barker Kat Nipp; later, he serenades "shimmy dancer" Minnie with the help of two rowdy cat pals.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Katt Nipp

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Music
Carl Stalling

DVD

United States
Vintage Mickey
Mickey Mouse in Black and White
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 2: Mickey Landmarks
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 1, 1956

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono : Cinephone
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Celebrity Productions, Inc.

Comments

  • Mickey Mouse says his first words, "Hot Dog!"
  • This short is a milestone not for any artistic reason, but for the merchandising. It features a scene (shown above) where Mickey tips his ears to Minnie. Inspired by this scene, storyman Roy Williams invented what is probably the most recognizable piece of Disney merchandise ever; the Mickey Mouse ears hat.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The improvement I saw in The Plowboy continues in The Karnival Kid, a short that really takes the Mickey Mouse cartoons to a new height. The animation is inventive, the score is great, and the characters even talk! Yes, Mickey utters his first real words here, and they’re funny to boot.

That’s the real story of The Karnival Kid as it relates to our project – the milestone of Mickey speaking. Walt provides his voice, and the soon-to-be trademark squeaking tone is an instant classic. I’ve always loved Walt’s original Mickey voice, and hearing it here for the first time is a real treat.

The story of The Karnival Kid is broken into two sections – Mickey the hot dog vendor at the carnival, and Mickey sneaking away later that night to woo Minnie the shimmy dancer. Both sequences are great, but in different ways.

The first sequence is very reminiscent of the Oswald short, All Wet, where Oswald was a hot dog vendor at the beach. The gags that were used in that short are recycled here, such as Mickey selling Minnie a hot dog that then tries to run away. Mickey catches the dog and spanks it like a child. The same sequence occurred in All Wet, but I have to say it’s still funny.

The other thing that strikes me about the first sequence is the sheer kinetic energy going on. The opening shot is of the carnival grounds, and it’s frantic, with characters moving from foreground to background, side to side, up and down. It’s visual overload, but in a good way. It really gets across the idea of a carnival atmosphere.

Pete (at least I think it’s him) serves as the carnival barker, and has a quick fight with Mickey when our favorite mouse interrupts Minnie. But Pete’s main contribution here is to be the puppet master for a shadow puppet of Minnie the shimmy dancer, in a neat opening gag.

The second sequence is much quieter and simpler. Mickey shows up outside Minnie’s trailer at night with a piece of fencing and a couple of cats. The cats proceed to sing “Sweet Adeline” while Mickey accompanies them on the guitar. Most of the action is the cats fighting each other for volume or with claws. Mickey is featured very rarely.

The opening of the sequence is neat, with the title card literally melting away, in a neat piece of animation. However, there really seems to be no reason to tack on this sequence, and it ends rather abruptly with Pete throwing trash cans at both Mickey and the cats to end the short.

The Karnival Kid is good, but not great. Still lacking in the strong plot of the Oswald shorts, the early Mickeys seem to rely on the sound and music as the backbone of the shorts. That was a sensation at the time, no doubt, but it does seem like some of the growth in the animation we saw in the Oswald series has slowed. Perhaps Walt realized that as well, which is why our next short, The Skeleton Dance, launched a whole new series.


From B. D. : Mickey's finally spoken, but it seems he has yet to find his voice - I've always found that in Mickey's earliest appearances, his voice, while still squeaky, is much harsher and raspier than the friendly tone we're all used to. This becomes especially evident in Mickey's Follies later on, in which he sings what will eventually become his theme song, and, to paraphrase one poster on The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated shorts, sounds like he has a bad cold at best. I can see why this would be the case - Walt couldn't possibly hit on the perfect voice on his first attempt.
From David Gerstein at Ramapith : We're not certain, today, that the voice in The Karnival Kid and Mickey's Follies is Walt. In fact, Carl Stalling claimed to have spoken for Mickey briefly, and the conventional wisdom is that one of these two is the one where he does. Still, while I'll agree that the voice doesn't sound like Walt in either short, I'd love to know a little more. As for Mickey's cat antagonist in The Karnival Kid: it's less Pete than the cat from The Opry House (snake-charmer's snake impersonator) and When the Cat's Away. In 1931, Mickey newspaper strip writer/artist Floyd Gottfredson called this cat Kat Nipp, making him a separate character from Pete: a kind of delinquent rival of Mickey's, known for tying Mickey's tail and nose in knots. The latter is directly anticipated by the similar gags in The Karnival Kid. Kat Nipp has appeared a few times in other comics since 1931, though never very often. "It's a bum hootch dance—keep your money in your pants!"
From B. D. : The Stalling explanation does seem more plausible - the tinkering explanation was a complete guess, based on the fact that I wasn't aware that anyone had voiced Mickey before Walt did.
From Mac : Despite some recycled Oswald gags, the Disney cartoons are a-changin'. This one has a new kind of energy with a very loud and lively opening and animation that really gets into the music (especially in the early section of this short). Mickey and Minnie's funny squawky noises were gone in The Plow Boy, but here the characters actually speak (and not just a string of la-la-la singing). Also Mickey's character design has changed again, he's rounder and somehow more solid. If the budgets were getting stingy with When the Cat's Away (with sequences being removed before being animated), then things are getting a lot more elaborate and impressive here.

The cats in the second half of this short are really funny. I love how cat and human behavior are combined, along with imaginative, cartoony action. I did read (can't remember where) that the night time section of this short was originally 'tinted' blue (probably achieved by printing the original prints on blue stock). This would make this cartoon stand out even more amongst early Disney cartoons so I wish the effect had been recreated on the DVD.

I do wonder how similar this cartoon is to earlier, lost carnival cartoons Alice at the Carnival and Oswald's Hot Dog. The animation of the carousel with the mechanical horses reminds me of the Oswald cartoons (and I love how in the background of that scene people are nearly falling out the roller coaster).


From Moe Hare : When it comes down to what are the best black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons, this happens to be one of them because of the rich history behind this short. For starters, this is the very first cartoon in which Mickey speaks and it was Disney's first musical director (of Warner Bros.LT/MM fame) Carl Stalling who did Mickey's voice in this cartoon. The Karnival Kid contains many gags used from the "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit" which made that series successful and it's use of the rubber-hose style animation made famous by legendary animator Bill Nolan. The Karnival Kid is one cartoon that every cartoon collector should have in it's video collection.
From Jerry Edwards : At a carnival, hot-dog vendor Mickey offers Minnie, a "shimmy dancer," some free lunch. Much later that night, Mickey and two cats serenade her. A disgruntled awakened neighbor hits the cats with a thrown bed pan and clobbers Mickey with the bed. One fun gag is at the start of the cartoon, where Clarabelle Cow is shown floating in the air with balloons tied to her tail. She blows on a party favor, which shows a scary face after it unfurls.
From jasonC : I don't know much about the history of these old Disney cartoons (but I am learning a lot from this site). But I do know when I am seeing something great, and I watch the Ink and Paint Club. Maybe I'm just part of the "politically incorrect" backlash of the past few years, but I think it is really refreshing to see Mickey's angry outbursts, like when he ruins that guy's stage act and spanks the baby hotdog. Even the uncaring way in which Mickey orders the hotdog to its death in the bun. No matter what this Mickey does, it seems disarmingly cute. I could watch it all day. And that is the genius in these old cartoons (which I think many dismiss as "charming".) This cartoon doesn't appear to have been made with an eye towards sanitized reality geared at protecting children, rather I'd say it embraces a view of the world as an inherently dangerous place full of strange and selfish characters. And it shows us this world in a friendly, caring, affable, affectionate way. So in the end I think it gives me (as an adult) a great lesson in dealing with the realities of life and keeping a smile on my face. I would put The Karnival Kid in my top-ten-ever cartoons list. The portrayal of Mickey is complex and great. And the style of the animation is riveting - primitive, but done by hand, comprehensible, I can visualize a person drawing it, and polished to a high sheen.
From Ryan : This is definitely one of my favorite shorts. First of all, it's an important milestone in Mickey's career. He says his first words. I liked the scene where Mickey is teaching the hot "dogs" tricks. "Sit up! Roll over! Speak!" With that, the hot dogs bark. Minnie takes a big coin out of her nylons. This is a pretty darn big coin if you ask me. It also appears that Minnie needs to shave her legs before her next performance as we see small hair follicles on them. The Arabian tune played when Kat Nipp is singing about Minnie the Shimmy Dancer is all too familiar. I just would be interested in knowing the name of it. It did get sort of annoying when the two alley cats (one of them looked like a cat who lives at my grandma's farm) were singing "Sweet Adeline."
From Milton Knight : Delightful short with eccentric animation and humor that would disappear from Mickey's films all too soon. Small movements are nearly gags in themselves, as when Mickey stops running and his trouser buttons fly ahead of him. By the way, the "shimmy" theme is called "Streets of Cairo".
From Mike : A fun little short. I remember when I was a wee lad watching this. The only thing I could successfully remember was the hot dogs being told "sit!" "stay!"

Once again, after getting "Mickey Mouse in Black and White", I must say.......this short has become one of my most watched. Nostalgia? could be. Maybe it's just a darn good short.

On another note, the monkey who played the drums was awesome!


From Bill : This is a great short because it portrays Mickey at his finest: bold, brash and not afraid to do what has to be done. He also speaks for the first time. It's a shame that this kind of bold humor in Mickey's films began to decline as he became more of an "icon" or company symbol. Even the animation, which today would be considered "primitive" gives this and all the early shorts a great charm missing from todays high-tech toons.
From Gijs Grob : In this wonderfully witty film Mickey works as a hot dog seller at the fair, where Minnie is a shimmy dancer. The film is split in two parts: in the first Mickey sells living(!) hot dogs and gives one to Minnie. When the unlucky weenie is not very cooperative, Mickey spanks him! The second part is introduced by a titlecard 'later that night', which melts before the scene starts. Here Mickey offers Minnie a serenade with help of two cats singing 'Sweet Adeline'. This film is particularly important because Mickey and some other characters speak and sing with perfect lip synchronization. Nevertheless, a lot of the characters' action remains typically silent pantomime.
From Chris Perdue : I don't really have anything to add to what's already been said, but I agree with Ryan. I enjoy the bit where he is training the hot dogs and you have to think it's kind of cute when Mickey is spanking the hot dog for not just sitting there and allowing itself to be eaten alive. Other than that, it's not a great short in my opinion, but it is, as has been stated above, one of Mickey's landmarks and therefore interesting to watch. The fact that the characters actually begin to speak at this point is significant to me because, though I have enough sight to understand what is happening on the screen, I am legally blind and dialog enhances the experience for me. So while I do enjoy later shorts more, I think this one is interesting and should not be forgotten when discussing or showing Mickey's landmarks.
From Katelyn : Somebody posted this short on You Tube not long ago...I'm glad because I can't find it anywhere else! I forgot how incredibly funny Disney cartoons were in the early days. Mickey yelling "Hot dogs! Hot dogs!" was just too cute.

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