Kabaret Starszych Panów

Two Older Gentelman, a sculpture dedicated to Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski in their cabaret attires, in Opole.
Memorial plate for Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski and their show on Polish national TV building in Warsaw.

Kabaret Starszych Panów (variously translated to English as Old(er) Gentlemen's Cabaret or Elderly Gentlemen's Cabaret) was a televised Polish satirical cabaret, active in the late 1950s to mid-1960s (1958–1966). Numerous leading Polish actors and performers participated in its shows. The hosts and producers were Jerzy Wasowski and Jeremi Przybora, the two older gentlemen mentioned in the cabaret's name. Their performances gained a country-wide popularity.


The Cabaret was founded and led by composer Jerzy Wasowski (b. 1913) and writer Jeremi Przybora (b. 1915), the two older gentlemen in the cabaret's title.[1] Wasowski wrote the music, and Przybora, the TV script.[2] The cabaret focused on two Bourgeoisie characters, Pan A and Pan B (Mr. A and Mr. B) "in dinner jackets, bowler hats, and with carnations in their button holes," who tried to find themselves in the new world of communist People's Republic of Poland, invariably poking fun at the changing reality.[3][4] Their humor has been described as "absurdist, sophisticated and elegant".[1] Music formed an important element of the cabaret's style, leading some critics to assert that the show was less of a cabaret and more of a "musical theatre of absurd".[5] Many top Polish actors of that time played in the cabaret as guests. Most notable performers included Mieczysław Czechowicz, Edward Dziewoński, Wiesław Gołas, Kalina Jędrusik, Irena Kwiatkowska, Barbara Krafftówna, Zdzisław Leśniak, Wiesław Michnikowski.[4][6][7]

History, influence and legacy

Wasowski and Przybora begun professional cooperation in 1948 in radio shows.[5] The cabaret was created in Warsaw in 1958 and was active till 1966.[4] It aired on Polish national television at a time when all TV broadcasting was state-run.[1] Unlike modern shows, airing on a weekly basis, their shows on censored television took months to prepare, and in the end, during their eight years they only created sixteen episodes.[4][4] It quickly gained significant Poland-wide popularity; even though many people still did not own TV sets. During the late-night hours when the programme was aired, families and friends congregated in the houses where the show could be watched.[7] The cabaret was eventually moved to a prime time slot.[7] Its popularity led to a movie, starring the same characters, called Upał (1964), and directed by Kazimierz Kutz.[1] The early TV programs were not archived, and about half of them have been lost.[2] They were recast in 1978-1980 as the Kabaret Jeszcze Starszych Panów (The Even Older Gentlemen's Cabaret). The cabaret was disbanded in 1968, as Wasowski decided he was too old to keep performing, and felt that it is better to end the show when their performance is still strong, rather than wait for its future decline.[2][4]

In 2011 the National Bank of Poland issued a coin featuring Wasowaski and Przybora, in their cabaret attire, in a series for "artists seen as instrumental in bringing their style of entertainment to national attention".[8] The series has been called cult[9] and legendary;[10] when technology permitted, it has been rereleased in the VHS and more recently, CD and DVD formats, and is still repeated in Polish television channels.[11]

Further reading


  1. 1 2 3 4 Marek Haltof (2002). Polish National Cinema. Berghahn Books. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-57181-275-9. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 "Piosenki Starszych Panów". Starsipanowie.republika.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  3. Wendy Bracewell; Alex Drace-Francis (2008). Under Eastern Eyes: A Comparative Introduction to East European Travel Writing on Europe. Central European University Press. p. 352. ISBN 978-963-9776-11-1. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Donata Subbotko. "Starsi Panowie mają pół wieku". Wyborcza.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  5. 1 2 "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2009-04-22. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  6. "Kabaret Starszych Panów". Wyborcza.pl. 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  7. 1 2 3 Wiesław Wodecki. "O Starszych Panach z łezką melancholii". Wyborcza.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  8. "Polish Entertainers Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski Featured on Square Coin | Coin Update". News.coinupdate.com. 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  9. "TVP idzie w rozrywkę i dokument | Dziennik Polski" (in Polish). Dziennikpolski24.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  10. "a później współtworzyła legendarny Kabaret Starszych Panów (fot. TVP) - Telewizja Polska SA". Tvp.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  11. Donata Subbotko (1999-10-15). "Nowe ramówki. Czym nęci TVP po wakacjach". Wyborcza.pl. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
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