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Daily Dose of Doozy #8: But Does Dracula Know It?: Abbott and Costello


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#81 BLACHEFAN

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 10:36 AM

1. The previous clip with Groucho and Chico in A Night At The Opera (1935) was more of a routine using double entendres, puns, misinformation, and exaggeration, not to mention absurdity that made this deal about an opera singer in the contract more lie a business arrangement, than this clip in which Abbott plays the skeptic and Costello the childlike believer who believes that Dracula did open his coffin, similar to a parent who believes that their child lis lying about something that they made up, but the child would say that it's true.

 

2. Yes. I find that contemporary comedy today does lack the taste, perfect timing and polish of classic comedy routines that modern day comedians omit from their material for a larger audience to a new basis.

 

3. Their biggest contribution is the classic verbal comic routines that were non-offensive, clean, and family-friendly humor that some comedians today would try to incorporate in their comic routines, they also came up with a setup for their classic routines that they perfected from their days in burlesque as stage comics, their director Charles Barton was the first comedy director to incorporate the three camera setup instead of the one camera setup on film to match their timing perfectly, since he was a wonderful collaborator, another film that I highly recommend for spooks and chills is The Time of Their Lives (1946), being one of their most expensive films of that time.


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#82 drmichaelbowman

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 10:14 AM

1.   How would you compare Abbott and Costello's style of verbal slapstick in this clip with Groucho and Chico's style from Daily Dose #6?

 

Like Groucho and Chico, the genius of Abbott and Costello is the timing and cadence in the delivery of their lines.  I assume they honed these skills through hundreds of  performances in live theater.  They can take ordinary lines that on paper are not particularly funny and deliver them in such a way that makes them humorous. I remember Jerry Lewis talking about the genius of Dean Martin’s skill as a straight man.  Without the timing and delivery of a good straight man, the payoff of the joke is lost.  Abbott  is a great straight man for Costello.

 

2.   Wes Gehring's observation about the "polish" of Abbott and Costello's comedy routines is also a criticism of today's comedians that seem to lack "taste [and] timing." Even though it is a general comment, do you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with Gehring's lament about contemporary comedy.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with Gehring’s assessment about today’s comedy and comedians.  The lack of contemporary comedic skill is due to a variety of factors.  First, Abbott and Costello, as well as the Marx Bros., spent hundreds of hours performing their routines before life audiences.  They could toss or refine bits that didn’t work.  One of the reasons that the Marx Bros. were so successful in films was that MGM’s Irving Thalburg allowed the brothers to test their material before live audiences.  They would take the best material from the live performances and put them in their films.  Today’s performers do not work on their material the same way.

 

Another difference is the “routine.”  Comedians used to work on “routines” that relied on timing and delivery to work.  Today’s comedians can only come up with verbal jabs and crude scenarios and call it funny.

 

Finally, the Marx Bros. and Abbott and Costello learned to work as a unit.  Their cohesiveness as a comedy was critical to their success.  We see similar comedy success in TV series like Seinfeld, MASH, The Big Bang Theory where the ensemble works together to achieve great performances.

 

3.   For those of you more familiar with the overall film career of Abbott and Costello (beyond this brief clip), what do you think is their biggest contribution to visual and/or verbal slapstick?

 

On the one hand, they were another link in the chain of comics that relied on teamwork to be successful (Martin and Lewis, Bob and Ray, etc.)           However, that teamwork and contributions of the straight man may not have been recognized by the general audience, by heaping too much praise on the funny man (Costello) without acknowledging Abbott’s contribution.


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#83 davecook

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 09:40 AM

I have little background in film analysis but I have really enjoyed all of the comedy clips so far and I have added Turner Classic Movies to our channel choices to watch more of these great movies.  My comment is very general  There are few movies today that cause me to laugh out load at any of the humour but I have laughed out loud at some of these choices!  When I was growing up, I saw a bit of Abbot and Costello on television and heard their most famous clips on radio.  I missed Chaplin, Keaton, LLoyd and WC Fields; they were less frequently aired on the channels available then.  I agree that much of the comedy today is in poor taste but I believe this reflects Western society in general where there are few rules about what is appropriate.  Throwing off constraints should not make entertainment less amusing but the focus has shifted to shock or titillate viewers rather than to work hard the way these comedy greats, did in finding fun in the ordinary.  There is fun in the silly situations in life and the enduring popularity of these films proves the point.    


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#84 JaneNoir

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 09:39 AM

I was so pleased to see Abbott and Costello included in this lineup, because the duo is a childhood favorite of mine.

 

In my opinion, Abbott and Costello seem to me to be on more uneven ground than the Marx Brothers did in the Daily Dose of Doozy #6. And that uneven power dynamic worked well for Aboott and Costello -- with Abbott typically the stronger, more dominant, more bullying, straight man. Costello the more "every man," the underdog, with his expressive face and exaggerated vocalizations. As a kid, I was always pulling for Costello. And their physicality to each other also demonstrates this. Their routines are less exaggerated, to me, than as seen with the Marx brothers, more real in tone. There's still some exaggeration, but it's less overt. This gives their routines a different dynamic than what I've seen in other verbal slapstick routines. There's a less crazy atmosphere, though no less humorous.

 

I do agree with Mr. Gehring's observation regarding their polish and timing -- their routines were perfectly executed. The shooting dice scenes, the crazy math when paying their rent (or not paying their rent) -- there was a wit and a verve that we don't see too much of these days.

 

 

 

 


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#85 Mandroid51

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 08:39 AM

1. How would you compare Abbott and Costello's style of verbal slapstick in this clip with Groucho and Chico's style from Daily Dose #6?

I'd compare it because it primarily involves a two-person setup in both. They also rely on what each sidekick is saying to play on the verbal slapstick. What you say will be used against you in slapstick.

Really glad you opted for this movie as part of the daily doozy! Actually managed to Pvr it so not just relying on a clip -horror is definitely a course you should teach in the future Dr. Edwards and I'd be first in line to sign up. Naturally the marriage of comedy and horror plays well in my eyes. I'm incredibly biased though :)

2. Wes Gehring's observation about the "polish" of Abbott and Costello's comedy routines is also a criticism of today's comedians that seem to lack "taste [and] timing." Even though it is a general comment, do you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with Gehring's lament about contemporary comedy.

I agree with Gehring on allot of today's Humor not having the taste. Our society has been dumbed down a great deal because of reality tv and social media making everyone a wanna-be celeb.

I think that for those same reasons we all have less time for true art and "timing" in today's fast moving digital world. In the context of reality tv etc. we are all seemingly artists and celebs so therefor less attention on other's craft and more on acquiring the spotlight for monetary gain. Of course there are exceptions to this this theory because some of today's comedians are truly stellar. To some extent the art and craft of timing and taste is not something that can be taught, of course the greats study the greats history has shown so that too is very arguable. Chaplin had a gift as did all the slapstick comedians being studied. I think Abbott and Costello are the best btw, and think they got a raw deal if not celebrated more formally.


3. For those of you more familiar with the overall film career of Abbott and Costello (beyond this brief clip), what do you think is their biggest contribution to visual and/or verbal slapstick?

Their energy, in my honest opinion -plays best. One is sparky and ready to yell at the drop of a pin and the other plays it straight but harps back with stealth yet speedy timing balancing them both very well. Physical, verbal, and tonal qualities make them the best. It would appear that opposites always play off eachother better than equals. The greats knew to utilize their differences...
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#86 Dr. Rich Edwards

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 08:08 AM

Use this thread to discuss Abbott and Costello in terms of slapstick.

 

As usual, this Dose is also available in Canvas.net on the "Daily Dose of Doozy" page. 

 

 


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Richard Edwards, PhD

Ball State University

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

 





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