Laurel and Hardy: it’s still comedy genius

Martin Chilton in The Telegraph:

Fixer-uppers-xlargeFrank Skinner once admitted that new girlfriends were always “subjected to the Laurel and Hardy test”, when he would play a video of the Laurel and Hardy dance sequence from Way Out West. “If she didn't laugh, I instantly wrote her off as a future companion,” said Skinner, conceding that this wasn't exactly rational behaviour. Perhaps we can all be divided by that Laurel and Hardy test. Those who love the Way Out West dance, which captures perfectly the charm and on-screen chemistry of the comedy duo, will already have been delighted by the news that the BBC1 is to show in 2015 a one-off 90-minute drama called Stan and Ollie – written by Jeff Pope of Philomena note – which is based around their 1953 tour of the UK, during which Hardy suffered a heart attack.

…Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse Five, said: “I used to laugh my head off at Laurel and Hardy. There is terrible tragedy there somehow. These men are too sweet to survive in this world and are in terrible danger all the time. They could so easily be killed.” They were brilliant physical comedians but there was more to their films than slapstick. Laurel was interested in Surrealism and favoured offbeat dialogue (“You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led”) and they are remembered still for a timeless catchphrase, as Hardy looks deadpan at the camera and says: “Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into”. During that 1953 tour, Laurel and Hardy were mobbed wherever they went. When they were in Ireland, as they were walking down the high street of Cobh, the church bells began to ring out with their famous theme tune, The Cuckoo Song. Laurel said: “We both cried at that time, because of the love we felt coming from everyone.”

More here.