Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vaudeville's "Ghost in a Pawnshop" Routine

Laurel & Hardy in A Chump at Oxford (1940)

A Photoplay reporter, Jack Wade, brought up this Chump at Oxford scene in an article entitled "We Cover the Studios."  He wrote, "Done up in Eton jackets and collars, [Laurel and Hardy are] practicing a screaming comedy gag which [screenwriter] Harry Langdon informs us is known as the old vaudeville 'ghost in the pawnshop' routine.  It consists of Stan sitting on a bench in front of a hedge and puffing a calabash pipe.  Meanwhile, through the hedge an arm steals, and mixes him all up with a cigar, matches, and what not.  It takes a long time for Stan to realize he has three arms, but meanwhile everyone else is howling."  The "Ghost in a Pawnshop" routine was, as Langdon said,  a "screaming comedy gag" in various vaudeville environs.  The routine was based on a Commedia dell'arte routine called "Lazzi of Fear."

Reference Source

Photoplay, Volume LIII., No. 7, July 1939. 

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