Stars of Slapstick #51: Rowan Atkinson
This is one in a series of posts we are producing in connection with our new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, available from Bear Manor Media in February 2013.
Today is the birthday of Rowan Atkinson (b. 1955). I mention Mr. Bean in passing in my new book Chain of Fools, because it was frankly unavoidable — Atkinson’s most famous creation is one of the few examples of non-verbal/ physical/ slapstick comedy to come down the pike in recent decades. It’s also (I feel) his best work, the tv version at least (though the Bean movies are terrible). In fact I’ve never seen Atkinson on the big screen or in a full length format where he wasn’t mortifyingly self-indulgent. A little bit of him goes a long way. In short format, on the small screen, he can be quite hilarious. Here’s a classic one in honor of the season just finished. The opening bits are too cutesy for me, but the turkey scene is priceless:
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.