As a race, we've been laughing at one thing or another for a very long time. The number of comic acts that have come and gone over the ages is staggering. Some were good, some were not so, but some were beyond description. These were the best of the best. These were the ones who made us laugh harder than anyone else. In honor of these great funnymen, we take a look at just a few of them here.
There was probably no greater comic duo than Abbott & Costello. At the height of their popularity, they made several movies in one year, something you don't see happening today. Their most classic routine was "Who's On First". But they were so much more than that, entertaining us on radio, in movies and on television with their own TV show.
Another great duo was Laurel & Hardy. They were many years before A & C but no less funny. Their classic movie "March Of The Wooden Soldiers" is shown every year around Thanksgiving. It has become a tradition. While they didn't make as many movies as A & C, they did do a number of short subject films, such as the classic "The Piano" that will have fans laughing for years to come.
If you're looking for single performers, look no farther than Charlie Chaplin. Without ever saying a word, he made us laugh harder than just about any single person in history. He was the king of the silent film era. His numerous short subject films were some of the funniest ever made, including "The Rink", "The Cure", "One A.M"., "The Immigrant" and so many more. The Charlie Chaplin film festival can still be seen in various parts of the world.
From duos, to single performers to trios. No greater trio existed than The 3 Stooges. Moe, Larry and Curly took the art of slapstick to new levels. This in spite of the tragic lives that they suffered through. Even after Curly died at such a young age, Shemp Howard, the third of the brothers, reluctantly took over in spite of his fears of performing. Nobody ever had a clue.
Then there was the Marx Brothers. Groucho, Chico and Harpo, Each one had their own personality and shtick. Groucho was the funny man with a million one liners. Chico played piano with a flair that was unequaled. And then there was Harpo, who never said a word and yet was probably the funniest and most beloved of all. His harp playing was simply gorgeous. Their movies like "A Night At The Opera" and "Duck Soup" are pure classics.
And who could forget the great duo of Martin and Lewis? That would be Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis was probably one of the craziest funnymen ever. He played off the straightman Martin's cool crooner looks like a pro. Even though their partnership ended badly, they will always be remembered for the laughter that they gave us.
This list not only barely scratches the surface but hardly does justice to these great performers. If you've never seen their work, do yourself a favor and rent some of their videos. You won't be sorry.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Humor