Stan Laurel in “Just Rambling Along”

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of Stan Laurel ‘s one reel comedy short Just Rambling Along (1918). As of this writing Just Rambling Along is earliest extant film (he’d made seven before this). It was also his first comedy for producer Hal Roach, although he would go off and work with various other producers before coming back to Roach in a serious long-term way in the 1920s.

It’s easy to see from films like this one why everyone thought of Laurel as a comedian of promise early in his career. This film is chock full of funny gags. It’s essentially “fun in a cafeteria”. The premise is Chaplinesque—his character has no money to eat.  He steals some from a child, goes in to the cafeteria, harasses a woman, tricks the guy for food, and so forth. The place is formatted like Katz’s Deli—you pay your bill to a cashier in order to exit. Laurel has a dime and only ordered coffee (he stole his food) but a girl switches tickets, causing him to owe more money anyway. So he tries to figure out ways to sneak out. Eventually he is kicked out into the arm’s of a policeman.

To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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To learn about the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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