This article focuses on the ideological as well as the performative underpinnings of David Garrick’s twin comic goals in the afterpiece Lilliput (1756)—ridiculing modern folly and raising a laugh with the play’s central dirty joke. It first considers the deployment of children as a tool for satirizing adult folly and then proceeds to an examination of Garrick’s lewd humor at the expense of the child actress’s body. In studying the mechanisms of the salutary as well as the salacious laughter the afterpiece aims to evoke, we get important insights into eighteenth-century notions of childhood and can begin to reconstruct the presence of child actors in the period’s stage history.
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