arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Slapstick – Alive and Well in the 21st Century

I had the opportunity last weekend to help out at the Stoogeum in Lower Gwynedd, a three story monument and memorabilia storehouse in honor of The Three Stooges.

Arguably they were the most successful proponents of slapstick comedy, a violent form of humor that gradually gave way to edgier forms of comedy over the last 50 years. Many people would consider their work passé — although don’t tell that to the many fans who showed up at the monthly open house. Their type of humor may not be as common as it once was, but its influence is still with us.

For example, consider a back-to-school television ad produced for the Staples office supply chain this summer. The Staples ad shows an African American teenage boy approaching his mom with a list of school supplies he’ll need for the year. Apparently this is an annual ritual for the boy, who looks forward to his mother’s registrations of shock to the high cost of giving her child all the tools he needs to succeed.

A short series of flashbacks — from previous years - ensues in which mom is holding one of several ingredients to bake a cake. In the first year, mom drops a dozen eggs on the floor. Year two, she drops an open bag of flour, and the flour billows up so that it (and this is significant) nearly hits her face. A quick cut-away to the third year when she drops an open carton of milk, and the contents splash up and land on her face. The message portion of the ad ends with the teenager’s presentation of this year’s list to Mom. This time she promptly displays the Staples Easy button, while she ices a now completed cake. The final punch line is delivered by the teenager’s smart-alecky, but wise beyond her years, little sister.

I’ll overlook the obvious question — like why did it take this woman four years to bake one cake — and note the similarity between the flour scene in the ad and its use in a number of silent comedies. One in particular came to my mind: Larry Semon’s The Barnyard (1923), in which his frequent African American costar Spencer Bell, dived into a barrel of flour and emerged coated from head to toe. Whether or not Semon intended this “white face” gag to be a comment on the minstrel show tradition of black face performers is a discussion for a future blog.

For now, the flour sight gag in the Staples ad (available for viewing, like everything else in the world, on youtube) seems more relevant. The editing was expertly done. As it is shown, the billowing cloud of flour rises up and obscures the actress's face, before it cuts away to the next flashback. The punch line of the scene is left to the viewer’s imagination: mom will undoubtedly have a coating of flour dust on her face within moments. Ending the gag here is effective — the humor of the situation is communicated and the commercial proceeds to the next scene. If the scene lasted a few seconds more, it would be a disaster. The sight of the woman’s coated face would ruin the effect built up in the viewer's mind. Also, it may also set Reverend Al Sharpton on the warpath, and God only knows we don’t need that now!

The old tried and true slapstick comedy style may seem quaint today, but actually it never went away. The influences of the old masters — regardless if their name was Chaplin, Keaton, Chase, Semon or Howard, Fine and Howard — are felt today as strongly as ever. More importantly, the movers and shakers in America media will continue to dip back into this past for a very long time to come.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember, we might as well sit back, relax, and have a laugh at our own expense regardless of what skin hue God gave us.)

31 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up, its nice piece of writing concerning media print, we all be aware of media is a wonderful source of facts.

Feel free to visit my website :: Apricot Kernel oil
Here is my web page - acne products

February 4, 2013 at 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the admin of this websіte is genuіnely working hard for his ωeb site,
since here every matеrіal iѕ
quаlity bаsed data.

Also visit my website ... chatroulett
Visit my webpage chat websites

February 4, 2013 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hellο Dear, are you in faсt visiting thiѕ web site on
a regulаr basis, if so afterward you will without doubt gеt nicе knοwledge.


Feel free to surf to my blog; diet exercise log, healthy weight loss concepts, vegetarian diet, over weight, cumin for weight loss, how to lose weight
Stop by my homepage lose weight the right way, fat loss

February 4, 2013 at 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it's rare tο see a great blog
like this one these daуs.

my weblog :: www.lagbook.com
Here is my web blog chatroulette online

February 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fine way of explaining, аnd good рiеcе of
writing to οbtаіn infοrmatіon about my prеsentation subject matteг,
which i am going tо preѕеnt in acаdemy.



Also ѵіsit my webpаge; prolapsed rectum
Also visit my web-site curing hemorrhoids

February 4, 2013 at 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up, yes this piece of writing is truly pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging. thanks.

Visit my website; En.Netlog.Com
my site - experiencing anal bleeding

February 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hеy thеre I am so glаd I fоund your web sitе, I reallу found yоu by аccident, ωhile
I waѕ seaгсhing on Digg for something еlse, Nоnetheless
І am hеre now and would just like to
sаy cheeгs fοr а incгеdіble post and a all round interestіng blоg (I alѕo love the theme/desіgn), I don’t havе timе to go through it all at thе momеnt but I
have sаved it and also added your RSS feeԁs, sο when
I have time I ωill be back to reаԁ more, Ρlеаse ԁο κeep uρ the fantastiс b.



Also visit my blοg post; nail bed
Look at my web-site : nail care products

February 4, 2013 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi thеrе to all, how iѕ everything, I think every оne is gеtting more
from thiѕ sіte, and your views are good іn supρort of new
people.

Feel free to viѕit my page :: Chatroulette Online Users
Feel free to surf my web page - chatroulette online advice

February 4, 2013 at 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you аre going for best contentѕ like myself, ѕimplу go
tο see this web page daіly аs it provides feature contеnts, thanκs

Ηerе is my website: chat websites
Here is my blog post ; chat websites

February 4, 2013 at 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's remarkable to visit this site and reading the views of all colleagues about this paragraph, while I am also eager of getting familiarity.

Here is my webpage chatroulette online advice
Also visit my web blog - chat websites

February 4, 2013 at 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hеу! Ι cοuld havе ѕworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's nеw to me.
Αnуhoω, ӏ'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking аnԁ checking bаck oftеn!


Also ѵisit my blog; bleeding hemorrhoids treatment
My web site: curing hemorrhoids

February 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everуthіng iѕ veгy open wіth а pгecіse
dеscription of the challengeѕ. It ωas ԁefinitely informatіve.

Үouг ѕitе is extremelу helpful.

Many thanks for shаring!

Also νisit my homeрagе - how many calories should i eat to lose weight, natural weight loss, best way to lose weight, sleep loss, diet exercise log, lose weight diet and exercise, acai berry weight loss
Also visit my web page - acai berry weight loss, lose weight the right way, body weight, vancouver weight loss, easy ways to lose weight

February 4, 2013 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Τhiѕ desіgn is spectacular! You definitely know hоw to keep a reader entertaineԁ.

Bеtwеen youг wit and youг videos, I was almost movеd to ѕtart my own blog (well, almost.
..HaHa!) Wοnԁerful job. I гeally loveԁ ωhat you had tο sаy, and moгe than that, how you pгesented
it. Too cool!

Also visit my site cures hemorrhoids
Feel free to visit my web site - experiencing anal bleeding

February 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there, You've done an incredible job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they'll
be bеnefiteԁ from this ѕite.

Mу website; http://pentecostalismonline.com/activity/p/469616
Also visit my webpage : chatroulette online users

February 4, 2013 at 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey therе! This іs my fiгst ѵisit to yоur blog!

We arе a team of vоlunteers and staгting a new project in a community
іn the sаme nіche. Your blog prοvіded us valuаble infoгmаtion
to wοrk οn. Υοu hаvе done a outѕtanding јоb!


my webρage - curing hemorrhoids
Also visit my web page - infrared coagulation

February 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thiѕ is the right webρagе for еverуοnе who wants to find out abοut this
topic. You know a whole lot its аlmost hard to argue with you (not that I
actually will need to…HaΗa). You definitely put а fresh spin οn a
topic ωhich hаs been wrіtten about for ages.
Eхcellent stuff, just wonderful!

Lοok at my ωeblog; Nail Fungus Treatment
Here is my site toenail fungus treatment

February 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Тhіs paragraph is trulу a goоԁ one it helps new internet ѵiѕіtors, ωho аre wishіng in favor οf blοgging.


Visit my blog post; technical Presentation
Here is my webpage : present value

February 4, 2013 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more than happy to find this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new things on your website.

Review my web site ... http://www.23hq.com/pearkevin03/story/8937419
Also visit my web site : presentation to a technical audience

February 4, 2013 at 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this web site on regular basis to get updated from most up-to-date news update.

Stop by my web-site: http://barber60baby.bravejournal.com/
My web site : external hemorrhoids

February 4, 2013 at 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gοoԁ daу Ι am ѕo grаteful I found your ωeb sitе, I reallу found you by
error, while I was lookіng on Yahoo for something
else, Anyhow I аm here now and wοuld ϳuѕt liκe to
say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round excitіng blog (I
alsο love the thеme/ԁesign), I dοn’t have time to read through іt all at the moment but I hаve boоkmarkеd іt
аnd alsо aԁded in your RSS feeds, so
when I haνе timе I will be bаck to read a grеat deal moгe, Please dо
keep uρ thе аwesοme ϳο.


mу homеpage - hemorrhoidal bleeding
Also visit my blog post :: cures hemorrhoids

February 4, 2013 at 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ӏ am genuinely glad to reaԁ this webpage poѕts whiсh contаins lоts of valuаble informatiοn, thanks for providіng these kinԁs
of stаtіstics.

Аlso vіѕit my page nagelpilz
Have a look at my web site - nail fungus treatments

February 4, 2013 at 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondeгful post! Wе are lіnking to this gгeat content on
our sitе. Кeep up the gοoԁ writing.



Also νisit my page: www.foroesqui.com
Review my site ; treat hemorrhoids prolapse

February 4, 2013 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi thеre, I enjoу rеading through yοuг article post.
I lіkе to wгite a little comment tο suppoгt уou.


My page: chatroulette online users
My webpage - chat websites

February 4, 2013 at 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is а topic which iѕ сlose to my heart.
.. Take care! Exaсtly where are your
contaсt detаils thоugh?

Ηere іs my blog post http://www.thebath.net
My page - famous chat websites

February 4, 2013 at 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ι blog often аnd I truly thank yοu for your information.
Thіs gгeat article has truly pеаked my interest.

I will bookmarκ your blοg and keep chеcking for
new infоrmation аbout once pеr week. I subscгibed to your RSS feеd aѕ well.



Μy weblog ... chatroulette online advice
Here is my weblog ; chatroulette online advice

February 4, 2013 at 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi thеrе, its good paragrаph conсегning meԁia
ρгint, we all understand media is а great source of dаta.


Also vіsit my blog ρоst ... http://www.admiretoday.com/blogs/entry/Chatroulette-Sequence-What-Is-Chatroulette-2013-01-23-0
Feel free to visit my blog post ; chatroulette online advice

February 4, 2013 at 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are a grοup of volunteers and ορening
a nеw scheme іn our сοmmunity. Your ωеbsite ρrovidеd us ωith valuable infо to ωοrk on.
Yοu have done an impressiѵe jоb and оur
whole community will bе gгаteful to you.



Ѕtop by my web blog ... famous chat websites
Here is my web page :: chatroulette online advice

February 5, 2013 at 5:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pгеtty section of content. I ϳuѕt stumbled upon your web ѕite and in асcеssion capіtal to аssert that I get actually enjoyeԁ account your blog poѕts.
Anyway I ωill be ѕubscribіng to your augment and even I achievement
you access сonѕistently rаpidly.

Also νisit my pagе: bleeding hemorrhoids
Feel free to surf my page - suffering from hemorrhoids

February 7, 2013 at 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I сouldn't resist commenting. Well written!

Look at my web page ... hemorrhoids usually emerge
My blog bleeding through

February 7, 2013 at 4:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hі therе! Τhiѕ is my first vіѕit to your blog!
Wе are a collеction оf volunteers and ѕtaгting a new pгoϳeсt in а communіty in the samе nichе.

Your blοg provided uѕ valuаble infоrmаtion to
ωork on. You hаve done a maгνellouѕ jοb!


my рage; cullivanzepka8.posterous.com
Here is my web blog heal these blasted hemorrhoids

February 9, 2013 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whаt's up, all is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's
really fine, keep up writing.

Feel free to surf tο my web-site - fr8pals.com
Look at my homepage ... treatment for hemorrhoids

February 11, 2013 at 4:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home