In 1899, the world’s first revolving door was installed at Rector’s, a restaurant in Manhattan's Times Square. It wasn't long after this event that comedians recognized the comic potential of the revolving door. Several characters tangle with revolving doors in an early comedy film appropriately titled The Revolving Doors (1910). In 1913, the team of Mahoney and Tremont used a revolving door for comic effect in their stage act.
Arbuckle had fun with a revolving door in His Wife's Mistakes (1916). The most clever business in the scene occurs as Arbuckle struggles to recover his hat, which has become lost in the spinning doors.
Charlie Chaplin created an even more memorable revolving door routine in The Cure (1917). The routine was meticulously choreographed and exquisitely performed.
Harold Lloyd, who was on his way to becoming Chaplin's chief rival, tried his hand at the revolving door routine in Next Aisle Over (1919). I found footage of this routine that was included in a French television documentary. Be warned, the quality is poor.
A revolving showcase was used similarly by Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy in The Bakery (1921).
The revolving door remained a centerpiece of comedy for decades.
Buster Keaton in The Cameraman (1928)
Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd in The Soilers (1932)
The Ritz Brothers in The Hotel Anchovy (1934)
The Three Stooges in No Census, No Feeling (1940)
Peter Sellers in Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
Anyone could get in on the action. Asta the dog chases an escaping criminal around in a revolving door in Shadow of the Thin Man (1941).
A baby crawls into a revolving door at a department store in Baby's Day Out (1994).
On television, the revolving door was central to a hotel sketch on a 1966 episode of The Danny Kaye Show. In the sketch, Kaye plays a new bellboy whose misadventures with the revolving door infuriates the hotel manager (Harvey Korman).
The animation community has loved these animated doors.
Pluto's Judgement Day (1935)
A Date To Skate (1938)
Bellboy Donald (1942)
Rabbit of Seville (1950)
Dixieland Droopy (1954)
How does the revolving door fare in more modern comedy?
Comedy was once pantomime and choreography, but now it's flailing and vomiting. But, the same year that Elf was released, Jackie Chan worked out a clever revolving door routine for Shanghai Knights (2003).
This way out, my friends.