Author Topic: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams  (Read 1175 times)

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Online stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #60 on: January 23, 2021, 08:24:15 PM »
(and I hope it's okay, me gushing like this with my picks, don't wish to go overborad by stepping on our hosts toes)

Well, get ready to gush again....

#25
Harry Langdon
35 points, 2 lists, #5 George-2.0


Born: June 15, 1884 Council Bluffs,  Iowa,  U.S.A.
Stage Debut: 1906
Film Debut: February 3, 1924

There were a lot of surprises in tabulating this list. And not just how many comedians who deserved to be on this list didn't make the top 50, or how many comedians who don't really belong on this list did make the top 50. But how the comedians ended up in the ranking. For example,  I had expected the top 5 to include Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, The Three Stooges and Harry Langdon. And yet here is Langdon outside of the top 20. He was one of the big four. Which was basically Chaplin and the three comedians popular enough to challenge Chaplin as the silent era's #1 comedian. 

Harry ran away from home when he was 12 to join a circus. While returned home many times, he continued to run away  to join medicine shows and traveling theater groups.  He finally settled down in his 20s, got a normal job, and married Rose Musolff. However,  no sooner was he married that he convinced her to join him on the stages of Vaudeville. This time he didn't return home. He and his wife developed a skit called Johnny's New Car which became successful and elevated his career. It involved a wooden prop car that Langdon drove onto the stage which came to a unexpected halt. While Harry tried to figure out why his car had stalled,  Rose would berate him. As the skit progresses Harry's attempts to fix the car resulted in parts falling off, or removed in a fit of anger, the whole time Rose making fun of him while he insulted her back. It is only after the automobile was a useless pile of rubble that Harry realizes the car was out of gas the whole time. Johnny's New Car became a hit, and would remain in their act in different variations for his entire stage career.  By the 1920s Harry and Rose had a second popular skit in their act called After the ball where Harry takes Rose to play golf and she is unable to hit the ball.

In 1923 Langdon was performing in California when Harold Lloyd saw his act and decided Hal Roach should hire him. Roach approached Langdon with an offer, but Langdon countered with demands for more money than Roach was willing to spend, so Langdon was turned down. Lloyd thought passing on Langdon was a huge mistake and tried to get Roach to reconsider.  But it was not to be. Harry had been offered a contract with producer Sol Lesser for the newly founded Principal Pictures Corporation, and Lesser had agreed to all of Langdon's demands. Harry filmed three shorts for Principal Pictures Corporation,  but Lesser was unable to find a distributor. In 1924 he lent Langdon to Mac Sennett for a couple of films. Sennett was happy with the shorts Langdon made and bought out his contract from Lesser. Screenwriter and future director Frank Capra was assigned to write Langdon's shorts. Capra decided his best character for the screen was his man-child character he had used infrequently during his stage shows. All it needed was a little development.  Audiences loved Harry's character,  and in a few years he rivaled Chaplin in popularity. 

When Langdon's contract was up, he accepted an offer from First National Pictures which would allow him to make full length features. He brought Capra along with the promise that Capra could direct some of the films. Two of Langdon's best films, The Strong Man ( 1926 ) and Long Pants ( 1927 ) were written and directed by Capra.  With articles proclaiming him a comedy genius on the same level as Chaplin,  Keaton and Lloyd, Harry decided that he wanted full creative control of his films. He ended up firing Capra and directing his films himself. Which was a huge mistake. Three's A Crowd ( 1927 ) was a career killer. Not only panned by critics but a disaster at the box office. Langdon had never directed a film before, and had made lots of mistakes during the filming, resulting in it going way over budget. The screening was a disaster, and Langdon responded by frantically editing the film, which made it even more of a mess. Some key scenes that were needed for continuity and plot exposition were removed by Langdon. As much of a disaster his directorial debut was, he insisted on directing his next two features. After which First National fired him. With three bombs in a row, no studio would touch him. Except for Hal Roach. There he made eight shorts which others directed. The problem was that when Harry joined Roach Studios in 1929, the studio had already converted to sound productions. Langdon would need a voice to go with his man-child character, something he had not done since he performed on stage. But the addition of a voice made Harry sound like an moron. Hal Roach put it this way: "He was not so funny articulate." When Harry's contract was up, Roach didn't offer him a second one.

Langdon went to Educational Pictures and made shorts for about a year, then another year of shorts for Paramount, then finally shorts for Columbia Pictures where he stayed for more than ten years, Along the way he abandoned his man-child character and  developed a new screen character. While at Columbia he found supplemental work  with Stan Laurel writing gags for the Laurel and Hardy films. He also continued to make feature films, but increasingly for poverty row studios. When Stan Laurel left Hal Roach Studios, Hal threatened to replace Laurel with Harry Langdon. In 1939 he did put Langdon in a film with Oliver Hardy called Zenobia, but their characters never really worked as a team. Laurel returned to the studio, and all talk of teaming Hardy and Langdon up ceased. A few weeks after shooting another short for Columbia, Harry Langdon died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage, on December 22, 1944.


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #61 on: Today at 02:14:59 AM »
(and I hope it's okay, me gushing like this with my picks, don't wish to go overborad by stepping on our hosts toes)

Well, get ready to gush again....

Okay, if you insist.  ;D

Great write-up, and yeah, he should have been ranked among the top of the charts. But I wonder how many here have done a deep dive into classic era comedy? I did this back in 2009, which started with a Keaton marathon... I was so taken by these films and curious about others that I broadened my scope and decided to spend the rest of the year exploring the history of those early slapstick clowns, from 1900s, through to the end of the silent era (and touching on the talkies, for those who continued into that era).

And you could write a book on the truth about Langdon, how his character developed, and who was most responsible (some fans squabble about such things). There's no doubt that he had talent, and that he soared when joined by the 'brain trust' -- Director Harry Edwards and his quiet style, director/writer Frank Capra and his ambiguous under shading, and writer Arthur Ripley with his darker tones - combine them with Langdon’s minimalism and you get an odd, though unique mix.



He was also aided by a great, great co-star, who probably won't make it (but wouldn't it be weird if he did, ahead of Harry?) Vernon Dent was an asset in several of the short pieces.

Harry can be an acquired taste, the first time I watched a film, I was like, what the hell is this, strange, alien, baby-man? But once I got it, once I was tuned into him I saw his genius. I loved those slow movements, or even the fast reactions that come late (standing, standing, then a quick hop to avoid an oncoming car). The way he interacted with inanimate objects as if they were real, the scolding bits always made me giggle (like when he wags his finger to scold a glass of beer for tempting him)


These are among the collections I own on disc

Phew, well that was a mouthful. Here's a little more

His best talkie short was "Knight Duty (1933)", probably because it was almost a silent picture. The subject matter was also inspired, as Langdon is on the run from cops inside a museum full of dummies and waxworks. Langdon had often interacted with mannequins in his past; it’s odd no one came up with this idea before.

Too bad Heart Trouble is lost.

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp is another favorite silent feature, his leading lady is a fresh-faced Joan Crawford.

« Last Edit: Today at 05:46:15 AM by George-2.0 »


Offline stansimpson

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #62 on: Today at 08:54:11 AM »


Online stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #63 on: Today at 10:30:43 AM »
#24
Will Ferrell
35 points, 4 lists, #12 RVR II



Born: July 16, 1967 Irvine, California,  U.S.A.
Birth Name: John Ferrell
Stage Name : Will Ferrell
Stage Debut: 1991
Television Debut: 1995
Film Debut: March 8 1997

Season 20 had been terrible for Saturday Night Live. The ratings were low, NBC wanted it cancelled,  and 12 cast members either left the show or were fired by the end of the season, including Al Franken,  Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and Mike Meyers.  New cast members were desperately needed, so a producer for the show was sent to Groundlings to scout for talent.  There he asked Chris Kattan, Cherie Oteri and Will Ferrell to audition for Lorne Michaels.  Will was a failed stand up comedian who joined Groundlings to develop comedic skills. There he created routines with Oteri and Kattan which they would later turn into skits at SNL. Ferrell stayed with SNL for seven seasons, becoming one of the most popular cast members in the history of the show. One of the popular recurring skits Farrell would do was Butabi Brothers which he and Kattan would go to nightclubs ( Where the DJ was always playing Haddaway's What Is Love ) and when bopping their heads to the beat, harassed women by slam dancing with them. Lorne Michaels thought the skit was good enough to be turned into the feature film A Night At The Roxbury ( 1998 ) Will also appeared in two other SNL films, Superstar ( 1999 ) starring Molly Shannon as her SNL character Mary Katherine Gallagher, and Ladies Man ( 2000 ), starring Tim Meadows  as the character of the same name. Between SNL and the SNL feature films, Will had very little free time to accept any other film roles other than bit parts, which included Mustafa in the Austin Powers franchise, Bob Woodward in Dick ( 1999 ), and Jacobim Mugatu in Zoolander ( 2001). SNL Studios gave up on making yearly movies based on the skits, so Ferrell had more time for his own projects.  This included the limited Broadway run of the one man show You're Welcome America: A Final Night With George W Bush, voicing the lead character in the WB animated series The Oblongs which lasted only 8 episodes before WB pulled the plug, and the pretty decent sized role of Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

In 2002 Will left SNL, finally giving him the time to make his own films. His first two, Old School and Elf ( both 2003 ) were instant classics.  Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy ( 2004 ) was not just a success, but began a formula Farrell would use in his other films, such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ( 2006 ) and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga ( 2020 ). He has also done well with buddy pictures such as Step Brothers ( 2008 ), The Other Guys ( 2010 ) and Daddy's Home ( 2015 ). And has even been a success in animated films like Megamind ( 2010 ).

In 2011 Ferrell made what seemed like a return to television. Steve Carell was leaving the sitcom The Office, and for a few weeks Ferrell was going to be the new boss. Until he was killed off ( sort of ) in his fourth episode.  Of course anyone with half a brain would know Will Farrell was not about to give up movies for a weekly television series. He was having too much success with his films. But while it may seem as if Farrell has the golden touch, he has had his share of duds. Bewitched ( 2005 ) is a casebook example of what not to do when a studio has the rights to a classic sitcom but can't figure out what to do with them. The movie is not a reboot,  but a film about a reboot, which made no sense. My guess is that Land of the Lost ( 2009 ) was supposed to be  Rock film, but The Rock turned it down because it was well below his standards.  When looking to recast,  someone remembered Ferrell played a character called Marshall Willenholly so thought he was a logical replacement.  As for Casa de mi Padre ( 2012 ), I  have no idea what the hell that was supposed to be. Still, no other SNL alumni is responsible for as many classic comedies as Will Farrell.


Online stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #64 on: Today at 03:19:08 PM »

#23
Penn & Teller
39 points, 2 lists, #4 linszoid


Members Birth Dates:
Raymond Teller  February 14, 1948   
Penn Jillette   March 5, 1955   
Stage Debut: August 19, 1975
Television Debut: March 10. 1977
Film Debut: September 22,  1989

Do Penn & Teller count as slapstick comedians? Well, no. They are magicians. Well. I guess if you count their only movie, Penn & Teller Get Killed as slapstick, and it sort of is, then okay, you have them performing slapstick. But generally, slapstick comedian and magicians were two completely different acts in Vaudeville, even if the magician did comedy. Sadly Penn & Teller only did the one film. I suppose if they did many more then they would have fallen clearly into the category of slapstick comedians.  But why would they bother doing movies when Las Vegas is paying them hundreds millions to do live stage shows?

Juggler Penn Jillette met magician Raymond Teller in 1974 when they were both introduced by mutual friend Weir Chrisemer in 1974. His reason, he wanted both of them to tour with him in a carny act called  The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society. tat would feature various sideshow tricks.   The act was gradually developed with Penn learning to do magic as the act became more of a magic act, and teller developing a stage character that didn't talk. On March 10, 1977 The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society was asked to perform on The Mike Douglas Show  But their act never really took off, and  in 1981 Chrisemer left. Now a duo, the act's name was changed to simply Penn & Teller. Both resented the popular magicians of the time as they continued to perform the same decades old tricks on television. They decided to get publicity for their act by revealing how these tricks were done, which they said was to motivate magicians to come up with new tricks. The publicity worked, and very soon Penn & Teller were performing to packed houses, while at the same time getting enough attention that they were invited to perform on talk shows and Saturday Night Live. In 1987 Penn & Teller starred in a music video for Run DMC's  It's Tricky. The rap group had broken into the mainstream a few months earlier after releasing the duet with Aerosmith Walk This Way, and so at this time Run-DMC music videos were getting heavy rotation airplay on MTV.
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/l-O5IHVhWj0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/l-O5IHVhWj0</a>
The video gained more fans for Penn & Teller. Which gave the duo the opportunity to write and star in their own movie Penn & Teller Get Killed ( 1989 ) which didn't do well at the box office or with critics, which is one of the reasons why no further Penn and Teller films were made. Well, that and they are both killed in the film, so no possibility of  a sequel. However, they still had a growing fanbase and which they used to market other products, from home videos, to books, to the infamous unreleased video game collection for the Sega CD Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors which included what is considered one of the worst video games ever made, Desert Bus. In the game you are put behind the wheels of a bus driving from Tucson to Las Vegas on a strait desert road with very little in the way of scenery passing by. You need to constantly hold the controller otherwise the bus will veer off the road and the game will end. Oh, and it is 8 hours of gameplay before the bus reaches the Las Vegas depot, where you are rewarded one point and given the opportunity to continue the game vis another 8 hour trip back to Tucson for another point. Penn & Teller never actually intended anyone to actually play this game, but the current record for this game is 99 points.
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/RFi2vcseEz8" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/RFi2vcseEz8</a>
 
Their first television series in 1992  was Behind the Scenes for PBS. It was a series where short films highlighting artist were introduced by Penn & Teller who would throw a quick trick into their segments. In 1998 they did Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular, a variety show in the style of The Ed Sullivan Show with Penn & Teller as the hosts. Both shows were not renewed for a second season. A series that did last was Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT! for Showtime which lasted for 8 seasons. Each episode of BULLSHIT! had a specific subject that the duo claimed was a con job. For example, an episode about the endangered species act showed how radical environmentalist were using a loophole in the law to prevent vacant lots in the middle of an urban area from being built on. Another episode debunked ESP.  At the end of it's run, Penn & Teller went to the Discovery channel with the series Penn & Teller Tell a Lie where they would air four stories, three of which were true and one which was completely made up. The audience was then asked to vote from home on which story they thought was the lie, the results of which were shown on the screen just before Pen & Teller reveal which story was not true. The series only lasted 6 episodes and was not picked up for any additional episodes. So Penn & Teller went to England to star on a series for ITV called Penn & Teller: Fool Us. Each episode had four magicians  do a trick and  Penn & Teller try to guess how they did it. If they can not guess how they did the trick then they win a FU trophy and an invitation to perform on stage with Penn & Teller at their Las Vegas  theater. ITV cancelled the series after a single season, but after it aired on the CW in the United States, they ordered additional seasons.  It is currently one of the longest running series on the CW, lasting 7 seasons with an 8th season scheduled to air later this year.

STATUE!


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap 128, Top 50 Slapstick Comedians and Teams
« Reply #65 on: Today at 04:14:28 PM »
Ouch, even Reed Richards finds that one a bit of a reach.