Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Comedy’s Sweet Weapon: The Cream Pie

From the New York Times:

So it is with unrestrained glee that we share the news of the recovery of a long-missing portion of the greatest pie-throwing fight ever recorded, far superior to the pastry melee of “In the Sweet Pie and Pie,” a 1941 Three Stooges short, or the baked-goods battle in “The Great Race,” a 1965 comedy with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

That, of course, would be the epic custard conflagration in “The Battle of the Century,” a 1927 Laurel and Hardy short that dispensed with 3,000 pies, thrown not with abandon but with slow-burn precision, heightening the comedic effect.

More here.

Back when I was in grad school at LSU, I made an offhand remark to our rather brilliant acting teacher, the late, great John Dennis, that the rubber chicken is the funniest of all objects. Almost immediately, he shot me down, rolling his eyes, as he often did at my various flights of fancy. You see, the rubber chicken is perceived by many as the most cliched of comedic gags.

Fortunately, he had just assigned short solo commedia dell'arte performances to us, and I had my opportunity to prove him wrong. There's no need to go into all the details of what I came up with, but it did involve more than one sex act with the chicken, as well as the spectacle of my character getting stuck inside the chicken during one of those said sex acts.

Anyway, my classmates were in stitches, and I had proven myself right. The rubber chicken is the funniest of all objects.

Lesson: some of the most cliched jokes and gags can still be over-the-top hilarious in the right hands. Indeed, farts are still funny. Falling down continues to be one of the funniest things a human being can do. And a pie in the face continues to have great comedic potential, for those with the power to harness it.

That's why I have GOT to see this no doubt soon-to-be restored Laurel and Hardy short from 1927 that features a THREE THOUSAND PIE pie fight. A sort of pie Armageddon, as Stan Laurel once referred to it. I'm betting it will be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. How can it not?

I can't wait.