This goes back a while to when nobodywasreadingme

*****

I have a confession to make. Way back when I was but knee-high to a hubcap, I didn’t understand how to pronounce the word heresy. I thought it was hearsay, and felt that burning people at the stake was a rather extreme reaction to what is in effect nothing but ugly rumour. I know better now. I know how to pronounce, and how to be guilty of it.

A few days ago, I had a spirited discussion with a friend. He was agonising over the thorny question of ‘Were Laurel and Hardy funnier than the Keystone Kops?’ I said it was academic, since neither was even remotely funny. You’d have thought I had just advocated the reintroduction of children being sent up to sweep chimneys. He was outraged, almost frothing at the mouth.

But it’s true. The Golden Age of Comedy never happened. Silent comedy was a contradiction in terms. Charlie Chaplin wasn’t funny, with the exception of the scene in The Gold Rush where he eats his boots (they were made of liquorice). The Kid was hideously mawkish. Buster Keaton? Meh. Harold Lloyd? The famous scene in Safety Last where he dangles off the clock? Spare me. Laurel and Hardy? Stan Laurel was so unfunny that he got ridden out of town on the rail from his native Ulverston in Cumbria, and fetched up in the USA where he teamed up with somebody who was, if anything, even unfunnier.

The Keystone Cops were spectacularly, nay heroically not funny. Mack Sennett must rank alongside Samuel Hahnemann as one of the greatest conmen of all time. He made a bloody fortune convincing a dumb public that this series of films was the best thing since sliced bread. They weren’t funny! Let’s also not forget that Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle was a notorious pederast, and really should not be in any list of people to be admired.

There really is not one silent comedy film that is actually funny. Not one. Making them was a shameful squandering of the Earth’s resources. Each and every undeveloped reel should have been opened in strong sunlight and then burnt. At the stake if necessary.

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