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 spite of the fact that my ex-girlfriend is one). 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:
For more on slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
For more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.