As the trusty Wikipedia defines it –
“A double act, also known as a comedy duo, is a comic pairing in which humour is derived from the uneven relationship between two partners, usually of the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession but drastically different in terms of personality or behaviour.”
The world of comedy would not be the same without these comedy duos taken over our screens and we want to focus on some of our favourite pairs out there. We will look at old and new, discover how they started out and what is it that makes them so hilarious together? Some of the comedians we will look at in this Double Act Series include Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, The Two Ronnies, Key and Peele, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
The debate on who is the best comedy duo ever usually boils down to Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello.
We have to start somewhere so we are going to kick it of with the comedy legends Laurel and Hardy.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy started out around the same time that sound was being introduced into cinema in the late 1920’s. Englishman Laurel, born in 1890 was the skinny, clumsy half. Hardy was the larger, smarter half, born in America two years later in 1892.
Before they became a duo however they had a long list already added to their career. Laurel had already been in over 50 films and Hardy, 250 productions! It wasn’t until they appeared together in Putting Pants on Philip in 1927 that they officially became a team. See the clip below for the moment they became ‘Laurel and Hardy’.
They have had such a powerful influence on what comedy is today and every other double act out there. The Simpsons has even taken inspiration from the Scottish actor Jimmy Finlayson, who appeared in 33 of their movies.
Within 30 years, between 1921 and 1951 the two released an impressive 107 films! Through out these movies their most popular catchphrase was “Well, there’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into”. They won peoples laughter with their cartoon like violence and slapstick style comedy. They were charming and simple and thats why people loved them!
“Those two fellows we played, they were nice, very nice people. They never got anywhere because they were so very dumb, only they didn’t know they were dumb.” Oliver Hardy once said.
Rarely seen without a bowler hat they won an Oscar in 1932 short The Music Box for Best Short Subject. Watch a scene from the film below.
On August 7, 1957 Oliver Hardy died, leaving his partner struggling with the terrible loss. At the time he wrote to his cousin telling him how he was feeling.
“Deeply appreciated your kind sympathy over the death of my dear Pal, it was a great shock to me even though I had been notified the day before that the end was near. I miss him terribly and feel quite lost – can’t realise that he has gone. He suffered a great deal these last few weeks due to a cancer condition, so I feel it was a blessing he was taken out of his misery and pain. A sad end to a wonderful career, God bless him.”
8 years later in 1965 Stan Laurel passed away. We take our bowler hats off to these comedy gents, R.I.P.