Old joke: Two professors chatting. First Professor:I say, Rodney, have you read Derrida's treatise on grammatology? Second Professor:Read it? I haven't even taught it!
Dick Van Dyke, physical comedian and star of stage and screen, has written a new book, Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. I haven't read it, but I sure am writing this blog post about it.
Well, in my defense, I did listen to a 7-minute promo interview with him two days ago on NPR, and now you can too by clicking here.
I never saw Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (I have sons, not daughters), and the only time I saw Van Dyke live was as Harold Hill in a NYC revival of The Music Man; let's just say he was not right for the part. But I did grow up watching the Dick Van Dyke Show (created by Carl Reiner), one of the best sitcoms ever if you're trolling for physical comedy gems.
Every show started with these 18 seconds:
Unless of course he wanted to surprise us by starting with these 18 seconds:
Not every episode was full of physical comedy, but there were indeed some gems. Here's a highlight reel that conveniently proves my point.
Hats off to YouTube member Paul Hansen for the excellent edit! And speaking of edits, here's a YouTube remix of a Van Dyke pantomime routine.
I did an earlier post of Van Dyke doing a "fake" physical comedy lecture, the kind where his speech gets undercut by physical mishaps. You can read the whole post here, but because I don't want to tax you with the arduous task of actually having to click on a link, here's that video clip again:
Which I include because it was not his only physical comedy lecture. In another episode he visits his son's school and quickly discovers it's better to show than to tell.
Finally, if you're new to the Dick Van Dyke Show, you can watch nearly all of the episodes (with new commercials) on Hulu by clicking here or without commercials on Netflix Instant Play (if you're a member).
...that you can click on any blog image to see it full size?
[So this is what I wrote six years ago; more or less true!]
Ring around a rosie, a pocket full of posies Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down
Welcome to the All Fall Down blog, an exploration of all aspects of physical comedy, from the historical to the latest work in the field, from the one-man show to the digital composite, from the conceptual to the nuts & bolts how-to. Be prepared for a broad definition of physical comedy (mine!) and a wide variety of approaches. Physical comedy is a visual art form, so there’ll be tons of pictures and videos, but also some substantial writing and research, including scripts and probably even some books.
This blog is a result of me wanting to follow through on lots of unfinished research from the past 25 years. It’s made possible by a full-year sabbatical leave from Bloomfield College that will take me through August 2010. It’s also made more practical by the ease of Web 2.0 tools for managing and distributing content. I had envisioned a web site similar to this blog more than a decade ago, but never got too far with it because it was simply a lot more work. Now, no more excuses!
Just as this blog will be sharing lots of goodies with you free of charge, I hope you will share your knowledge and ideas with me. Feel free to comment on any of it, or to write me directly with your suggestions. Admittedly I don’t see this as a free-for-all forum on the subject of physical comedy. It’s my blog, I’m the filter, and it won’t be all things to all people. That being said, I hope it will bring together insights, information, and people, and encourage others to make their own singular contributions to the field.
I hope to be adding substantial and varied material to the blog on a regular basis, so check back often and be sure to check out previous posts. And finally, a thanks to all of you, past present, and future whose work contributes to our knowledge — and our fun. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.
— John Towsen New York CIty May, 2009
My Physical Comedy Qualifications
So if you don’t blink, you can see me doing a pratfall on the original 1957 CBS production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella(starring Julie Andrews, directed by Ralph Nelson, stage managed by Joseph Papp).
If that doesn't say it all, then click here for the full bio.
My Favorite Posts Okay, there are literally thousands of physical comedy blogs out there, but only one physical comedy blogopedia. Why list my favorite posts? Because I want to draw attention to my best research and writing, to posts that make the strongest connections between old and new, between theory and practice, between ha-ha funny and broader global issues. If I die tomorrow, which is impossible because it's already the day after tomorrow in Australia, these are the ones I would like read aloud at my funeral, with high-rez projection of all videos. (Is it bad luck to write that?) Also, please mention that I never voted for a Republican. —jt
Here are some useful and fun blogs and web sites that touch on the whole field of physical comedy, rather than just sites by performers about themselves (not that there's anything wrong with that). Click away!
For the latest posts from these blogs, see below. (Blogs only; not web sites.) These are automatically sequenced by Google in order of most current posts. The blog at the top of the list is the blog with the most recent post. Since the whole idea is to keep you (and me) up to date on current posts in the field, blogs that have not been posting regularly have been dropped from the list; if you've been dropped but are now posting regularly, just let me know.
Here's a list of complete books available for free as pdf documents right here on this here blogopedia, arranged in chronological order; dates are publication in the original language. Clickhere for a Tech Note on these books. Click on the book title to go to that post. More books coming!