Shills by Day and Pimps by Night

If anyone else has listened to/performed Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” and been confused by the line “The crooks, the whores, the cathouse owners; the shills by day and pimps by night; and yes, those dogs in uniform…”, I have just come across an excellent definition of a “shill”, courtesy of Mr Erving Goffman:

Shillaber, n. An employee of the circus who rushes up to the kid show ticket box at the psychological moment when the barker concludes his spiel. He and his fellow shillabers purchase tickets and pass inside and the crowd of towners in front of the bally stand are not slow in doing likewise.

Goffman, Erving. 1990. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin. p. 146.

You learn something new every day, don’t you?


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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

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