Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Odd Couples

Harold Lloyd with great dane,
 and with John Aasen (as
Colosso) in Why Worry (1923) 
[post 237]

"Contrasto! Constrasto!" Carlo Mazzone-Clementi used to holler. Comedy teams have traditionally relied on contrasting characters, the stronger the contrast the better. Laurel is skinny, Hardy is pleasingly plump. Keaton had Joe Roberts, Chaplin had Eric Campbell. Harpo Marx is said to have stopped talking to differentiate himself from his yackety-yak brothers. The Odd Couple's Oscar Madison was a slob, Felix Unger a neat freak. Contrast gives you something to play off of, but you still have to have a good act! With great serendipity, I recently stumbled upon these three entertaining examples.

The first is a vaudeville number, an odd trio whose physical contrast lies in the vertical plane: Lowe, Hite & Stanley. (Get it?) Hite's real name was Henry Mullens, and at 7' 9" he was billed as the tallest man in the world. The trio made an appearance in New Faces of 1937, alongside such names as Milton Berle and Ann Miller. That's all I know....

We leap from Vaudeville to Vimeo with Mr. Joe & Mr. Schmidt. Frequent guest blogger Karen Gersch, who first alerted me to their top-notch work, wrote that "Joe (the shorter guy) is Canadian born, but has been living in France for years; having toured with Cirque for a decade. He was my good friend Guto's partner in Dralion. Joe and his wife have been living in Marseilles (both working in hospitals and Joe travelling to perform throughout Europe & the states)  This particular footage is from Zinzani, where Joe is most often booked here. His partner's name is Yogi. (for real, not a clown name!)"

The only way to top these five guys — you guessed it! — would be to recruit an aquatic member of the animal kingdom. True, a walrus is chubbier than a svelte animal trainer, but it's a well-known comedy principle that as a duo they're only funny if you throw them into an exercise video. Goo, goo, g'joob, indeed.

But is all this exercise paying off in a trimmer waistline? Some skeptics — and I don't want to mention their names, other than that they start with "Martie" and "Doug" (you know who you are)— have argued that, and I quote: "Really? Walrus still looks pretty flabby." Oh ye of little faith! Luckily, dear blogopedia readers, I went that extra mile and tracked down this photo of our inter-species duo five weeks into their slimnastic regimen:

The diet was a success but the laughs died.

Related Post from Jonathan Lyons:  Cartoon Comedy Duos

1 comment:

David Carlyon said...

Mr. Joe & Mr. Schmidt are singing the Louvin Brothers! It's the first time I've ever heard that song except on my CD. (Yeah, yeah, I know I'm old-fashioned.)

The three videos are cool too.