In keeping with our bid to be simultaneously relevant and irrelevant, we observe National Spaghetti Day with a brief survey of classic comedy scenes involving spaghetti:
Spaghetti is a notoriously difficult to eat at all, let alone do so politely. Think how much harder it must be to control as a comic prop! But this was just the sort of challenge, Charlie Chaplin relished. In The Count, Chaplin makes comedy out of his embarrassed inability to get the food to his mouth, while generously allotting the trickier and more impressive comic business of SKILFULLY eating spaghetti to his scene partner Eric Campbell.
Larry Semon, Risks and Roughnecks (1917)
In this comedy about a Black Hand style gang of Italian crooks, pioneering comedian Larry Semon reverses the film so that his spaghetti magically zips into his mouth.
Buster Keaton, The Cook (1918)
The Cook is actually a Fatty Arbuckle vehicle, but the spaghetti routine in question belongs exclusively to then supporting player Buster Keaton who devises many ingenious alternative methods of eating the tricky food
Substitution was a favorite comic strategy of Chaplin’s. In The Gold Rush, he had eaten shoelaces like spaghetti. In City Lights, he accidentally ingests a party streamer.
A Night at the Opera contains a couple of memorable spaghetti moments. The picture above is just a quick sight gag. When we first meet impresario Herman Gottlieb (Sig Ruman) he is hidden behind his giant forkful. Later in the film, more poignantly, the starving stowaways devour a spaghetti dinner at the first opportunity.
Inevitably, Chaplin’s dictator Adenoid Hynkel has a spaghetti fight with his foremost frenemy, Benzini Napoloni (Jack Oakie), leader of Bacteria.
The Three Stooges, Malice in the Palace (1949)
The Three Stooges fooled around with spaghetti too many times to count. In Malice in the Palace they are waiters who drop it all over the heads of their customers, Vernon Dent and George J. Lewis. The two men prove to be crooks, who hire them to steal a priceless diamond.
Jerry Lewis, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950)
In this sequel to Martin and Lewis’s first film My Friend Irma, Dean Martin is busy trying to gain traction in Hollywood, while Jerry Lewis has this crazy date with a woman who would never sit still for a second of this in real life. As a bonus, we link you this hilarious clip from The Disorderly Orderly (1964), featuring also Benny Rubin as a politically incorrect waiter. You’re welcome.
The Three Stooges, Income Tax Sappy (1954)
Dumping this spaghetti on this woman’s head has very little to do with the ostensible plot of Income Tax Sappy, in which the Stooges play a trio of tax cheats.
I Love Lucy, “Hollywood at Last” (1955)
Jack Lemmon, The Apartment (1960)
We skirt the edge of the modern here, where Jack Lemmon’s quirky bachelor C.C. Baxter memorably strains his spaghetti through a tennis racket.