This exceptional comedy owes its existence to Fred Karno's sketch, Mumming Birds, a burlesque of a music hall performance with terrible acts and ill-behaved patrons, in which Chaplin had found his great theatrical success playing the Inebriated Swell. Chaplin plays dual roles in the film: a version of his old stage success of the well-to-do-drunk Mr. Pest, and Mr. Rowdy, a dissipated working man, both of whom are attending a vaudeville performance.
Mr. Pest manages to cause as much disorder in the stalls as does Mr. Rowdy in the gallery. The film carefully reflects the Karno style, although it differs in significant aspects from the Mumming Birds sketch so as to avoid claims of plagiarism. Chaplin would eventually return to the idea of dual roles in the later The Idle Class (1921) and The Great Dictator (1940).