Anthony Balducci, 52, studied journalism at Baruch College in Manhattan and earned a criminology degree at the University of Florida. His first book, a biography of film comedian Lloyd Hamilton, was published by McFarland in 2009. The Funny Parts, a book detailing the history of gags and routines, was published by McFarland in 2012.
Classic comedy routines have turned up a number of times on the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. Three routines made their way into the latest episode, "Marceline's Closet."
Finn and Jake get bored waiting for their friend Marceline to get home and seek to break the monotony by playing Cloud Hunt (a variation of Hide-and-Seek). Jake hides inside Marceline's house despite the fact that he is not supposed to go into the house while Marceline is away. Finn sees Jake through the window, but Jake pretends to be Finn's reflection. This results in a variation of the famous mirror routine.
Finn goes into the house to get Jake, but Marceline arrives home suddenly and the pair rush into her closet to hide. When Marceline opens the closet to investigate a noise, Jake crouches down and hides his face to avoid being noticed while Finn tries to squeeze himself inside a boot.
Later, the two of them hide inside a coat.
Harold Lloyd tried a lot of these same tricks to elude police in Bumping Into Broadway (1919). At one point, Lloyd even disguised himself as a table.
Finn never got around to the table gag, but he did try to disguise himself as a lamp by putting a lampshade on his head.
Charlie Chaplin used the same trick to great effect in The Adventurer (1917).
These routines, which were used in various forms by a several different comedians, are discussed at length in two chapters of The Funny Parts - "How to Disguise Yourself as Furniture and Fool Your Friends" and "Into the Looking Glass."
Here are four versions of the classic "Walk this way" routine.
Is My Palm Read (1933)
In Society (1944)
Don't Throw That Knife (1951)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
A variant routine involved a dance instructor who loses control of their actions while leading students through a dance number and the students, unaware of a problem, blindly follows the instructor's disorderly moves. Here is a clip that shows Max Linder performing the routine in Max, professeur de tango (1912). Max, who has had cocktails prior to the lesson, is more than a little tipsy.
A better known version of the routine, in which a bee flies down the back of the instructor's dress, was performed by The Three Stooges in Hoi Polloi (1935).
Here is one other version of the routine that turned up on a 1982 episode of Police Squad.
The Funny Parts, which traces the history of gags and routines, is now available on Amazon.
Amazon is listing the book as "Temporarily out of stock," but I looked into this and found that the book is expected to be available from Amazon in a week.
The Funny Parts, which deals with a wide range of gags and routines, is recommended to anyone who is a fan of classic comedy. Below is a table of contents.
Table of Contents
1 And Then There Were Pies 7
2 Mannequins and Other Dummies 16
3 Animals 34
4 Adventures in Eating 77
5 Attack of the Vamps 99
6 Indecent Exposure 107
7 Spooky Apparitions 118
8 Bombs and Burglars 130
9 How to Disguise Yourself as Furniture and Fool Your Friends 135
10 The Amazing Trapdoor Chase 145
11 Science and Magic 151
12 Tooth Extraction and Laughing Gas 158
13 Into the Looking Glass 162
14 Sleepless Nights 168
15 Fathers to Sons of the Desert 178
16 The Big Jangly Box, the Sliding Ladder and Other Comic Props 183
17 The Buster Keaton Variations 192
18 The Harold Lloyd Variations 222
19 Hysterical History 229
20 Bugs 241
21 Scared Black Servants, Dice-Playing African Cannibals, and the Most Racist Comedy in Silent Cinema History 245
22 Other Variations 259
Chapter Notes 299
The chapter titles should give away most of the subject matter. For instance, the "Hysterical History" chapter involves costume farces.
The "Sleepless Nights" chapter deals with comedians struggling to sleep in Murphy beds, hammocks and train berths.
Full chapters are devoted to Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy. Other comedians featured prominently in the book include Charlie Chaplin, Lupino Lane, Harry Langdon, Larry Semon, The Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, and The Three Stooges.
Thanks to generous photo contributors, the book features more than 100 photos, many of which have never before appeared in print. I actually had more photos than I could use, which is the reason that I am using a few of the extra photos in this article.
This shaving routine is from Hello, Pardner! (1923).
Harold Lloyd has trouble shaving in a communal washroom during a train trip in Now or Never (1921).
Harry Langdon later found himself in the same situation in The Luck o' the Foolish (1924). Both Now or Never and The Luck o' the Foolish also include berth travails.
Here is Lloyd involved in other stock comedy business, including animal antics, vamp intrigue and mass transit hassles.
I recently wrote on this site about one of my favorite silent film comedy directors, Fred Fishback. Here are stills from a Fishback comedy called Hello, Judge, which was produced as part of Universal's Century series in 1922. Lee Moran and Ena Gregory starred as a married couple plagued by an overbearing mother-in-law (played by Blanche Payson).