When Comedy Was King

I have long been a fan of comedy.

I was raised with it. When we went to Showtime Pizza back when I was a kid, we’d sit on picnic benches in this family pizza joint and I would not even remember the pizza, but I did recall the silent comedies on the big screen overhead. A honky-tonk piano provided the soundtrack to epic movies from the likes of Chaplin, the Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy.

There’s always a root to my weekly columns and this week, it was the result of mentioning Laurel & Hardy to a young woman. She looked at me as though I had mentioned the Smoot-Harley Tariff. That made me sad.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were a comedy team that inspired me at an early age into wanting to make people laugh. I personally enjoyed the euphoria that came with busting a gut and much like physicians are inspired to save lives, I’ve since been drawn to making people laugh. I want to share that great feeling.

That’s why I’m thrilled that a spotlight is about to be cast on them again in a movie that tells their story. You’ve got to remember, these were people creating a lasting product in a brand-new industry, one that started out without sound and who made the transition to creating film classics with sound. These two were the goofball nerds that made the viewers seem superior so everyone felt better about themselves.

If you have Amazon Prime, take the time to watch “Stan”.  It’s a fictionalized account about the last time Stan Laurel visited a dying Oliver Hardy. Incredibly well done.

And coming soon to a big screen near you, “Stan & Ollie.” I’ll be honest, I can’t wait for this one. I know very well that there is a behind-the-scenes part of every show, as I suspected with Laurel & Hardy, and I look forward to seeing their untold shocking story.

There have been many comedians and comedy teams over the years and most are beloved by us without knowing the many challenges that went into their careers and why they were driven to make us laugh. We’re all allowed so long on this rock to make our mark, to achieve what we want, to give people a reason as to why we were here in the first place.

Laurel & Hardy were destined to make us laugh. If I could go back in time and talk with just about anyone, it would be sitting down with those two and asking where the inspiration came from. Head to YouTube and experience a little for yourself. 

Laughter changes people, it makes them feel better. Laurel & Hardy were healers and gave us a medicine that has lasted for generations.

I hope that someday, other comedians will emerge with comedy that goes beyond their generation. Only time will tell.

For now, we have Laurel & Hardy. Back in the day, when comedy was king.

Tim Hunter

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