"Where do you get your warped sense of humour", I was recently asked; which led to a conversation about these two influences. They are to blame, well when I say blame, I mean they may be partly responsible. You see I grew up laughing my ass off at the chaotic, weird and wonderful situations they got themselves into.
I distinctly remember all those little quirks Stanley would do which drove Oliver mad - such as him being able to light his thumb simply by flicking it, him being able to raise his hat off his head by blowing his thumb and my favourite the ear and nose holding trick (simple yet very confusing for many)
I also recall with fondness that wonderful little tune - The ku-ku song; in fact whenever anyone would annoy me with their incompetence I would whistle it. My ex understood the reference and would give me bad looks or nudge me when she caught me doing it, I didn't even realize myself sometimes!
How about a little history lesson, are you sitting comfortably, then I'll begin.
Stan Laurel (June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965) was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Lancashire, England.
Laurel began his career in Glasgow Britannia Theatre. He gradually worked his way up the ladder of supporting roles until he became the featured comedian, as well as an understudy to Charlie Chaplin. He emigrated to America in 1912 where he decided to change his name; he worried that was too long to fit onto posters.
Oliver Hardy (January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) was born Norvell Hardy in Georgia, USA. Upon turning 18, he changed his first name to that of his father who had died years earlier, henceforth calling himself Oliver Norvell Hardy.
By his late teens Hardy was a popular stage singer, and he operated his own moviehouse. He thought he could do better than some of the movie comedians he was presenting, so in 1913 he became a movie actor.
The humor of Laurel and Hardy was generally visual with slapstick thrown in, for me my first taste of Vaudeville. The basis of their films were simple plots with a lot of comedic moments, usually involving Oliver taking the brunt of the misfortune. They made silent films, "talkies", b&w films and colour and several feature films.
To me they are legends, and below is a small sample of a typical Laurel & Hardy moment, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
and this is how they would look today
There were of course other early influences which get a honorary mention - The Two Ronnies, Rowan Atkinson, Abbot and Costello, Monty Python, Tommy Cooper, Lenny Henry, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and of course the many many Carry on episodes. I know there were many others but these stand out the most.
Who were your influences and why?