Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Doozy #4: Amusing Attractions: Harold Lloyd

106 posts in this topic

The overindulgence scene is funny, but I'm a little bit baffled by the editing. To me, it would make more sense to show Lloyd over-eating first, then going on all the twisting, turning rides, and then performing the vomit/lung test gag. But then, I've never been sick at the park, so I don't really know whether the queasiness is caused by too much action followed by too much food, or by too much food followed by too much action. Maybe an interlacing of the clips (ride/eat/ride/eat) would have made a better set-up for the gag?

Agreed. I didn't pickup the gag initially but did after thinking about it some. All the editing techniques and even filmmaking was in its infancy of course. As was slapstick...

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Again, just posting my thoughts before I go back on reading what everyone else has contributed...

 

Like with Keaton, I'm not familiar at all with Lloyd's career (this is the first clip I've seen of him, actually). With that said, I will say that Lloyd manages to use the Coney Island setting to place his character in outrageous situations, doing the rides, playing the games, eating food, etc. All the gags rely heavily on the setting to the point of making me wonder how will he fare as a comedian in another environment.

 

In that line, I would have to agree with Schickel (at least based on the clips that I've seen) that Lloyd is the more "real" of the three (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd). There is little to no exaggeration in the clip and most of what we see are just things that would happen to any normal person that went to Coney Island (with the possible exception of the crab in the pocket!)

 

As for Lloyd's contribution, like I said with Keaton, I wouldn't consider me as versed on the topic yet to say what did he contribute to the era. I hope I can have a better answer by the end of the course once I've familiarized myself more with it.

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In Lloyd's "Speedy",1928, several back to back scenes of Lloyd and his girlfriend eating cotton candy and drinking soda, downing large pieces of cake with cocoa and devouring several corn on the cobs concluded with Lloyd (with his back to us) which has him appearing to be convulsing and throwing up his food with his girlfriend patting his back in comfort.  But, in actuality, the visual gag is that he is blowing into a 'Test Your Lungs' attraction instead.  At another attraction to 'hit the cans' to win a doll for his girlfriend, Lloyd accidentally pushes a passerby's food into the passerby's face as he extended his arm to throw the ball.  The infuriated passerby grabs the ball out of Lloyd's hand and throws it at Lloyd and as Lloyd ducks, the ball hits all the cans.  The visual gag ended with Lloyd's girlfriend receiving the doll for the attraction owner believed that Lloyd threw the ball.  Also, the setting of Coney Island amusement park with many park goers helped portray a fun and frivolous environment which anticipated the visual gags to come.

 

Lloyd does seem to convey a more "real" or "freer" "exaggeration and stylization" compared to that of Chaplin and Keaton.  Perhaps its Lloyd's honest reaction (instead of Keaton's "stony faced" reaction) of bewilderment or fear to whatever happens and/or his normal movements (instead of Chaplin's ballet-like dance movements).

 

The contribution of Lloyd is that he took the visual gag a few steps further and reacted 'normally' at all times.

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      In this clip from Speedy (1928), we see Lloyd expand the realm of slapstick through the use of the camera as an active participant in the gag.  The camera set us up with a series of scenes involving thrill rides and excessive consumption of treats, then it tricked us into believing that Lloyd was getting sick by use of a camera angle that gave us that impression.  This deception was revealed when the camera actively changed perspective and showed us that he was just testing his lung strength.

 

      While trick perspectives had been used before, the camera had been a passive instrument that recorded the event without being actively involved.  The deception was revealed by the participants through changes of their positions in a stationary camera shot.  For Example:  In The Golden Age of Comedy (1957), we saw a man getting hit on the head with a sledge hammer; then he moved and revealed that a post was being driven behind him.  The alignment of the post and the man created the deception, and the movement of the man revealed the truth.  With Lloyd, though, the initial camera angle of the "sick scene" relied on information from the previous scenes to create the deception that he was sick.  Then the camera actively changed the perspective and completed the joke by revealing the truth. 

 

      We saw camera activity and the "Fourth Wall" introduced in a minor way with Fatty Arbuckle in Coney Island (1917), when he spoke to the camera and convinced it to move in the name of modesty and public morals.  The camera actively obliged.  More than a decade later, Lloyd took this idea of the active camera to a higher level and added a new element to his films.

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Questions:

1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? The setting of Coney Island is the basis for all the gags. He uses the amusements and the park itself as a prop, such as the crab at the ticket booth and the whirling wheel, the set-up of the consumption of all the amusement park food to set up the test your lung gag, and the pitching wind-up on the milk-bottle gag.

 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? He uses exaggeration but it doesn't show on his face. He uses deadpan as both Chaplin and Keaton, but I've never had a crab in pocket - have you? With Chaplin in Modern Times, going through the machine gears or Keaton with the side of the building falling down on him - obviously, those are exaggeration. But if you watch HGTV's First Time House Flippers, you actually do see walls falling on people!  I think Lloyd has a more expressive face or style than Keaton, while Chaplin's expressions are more often in his boy language. Lloyd is "the Boy", Keaton is the Great Stone Face, but Chaplin's slapstick included more than just the Little Tramp - such as when he parodied Hitler. 

 

 

3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy? I think Lloyd contributes more to the social culture and man's difficulties with technology and how they change the fabric of society. In Scenes from Hot Water, the scenes in going through traffic with a turkey to get onto the streetcar and driving a brand new family car, the man has purchased new technology but is not yet comfortable with it.

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1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? Be specific.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? Why or why not?
3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy?\\\

 

 

1.  Lloyd takes the cliche aspects of Coney Island and takes them to the next level.  In his day, these scenes of Coney Island must have been so unusual for the average person and he grabbed the wonder of the place perfectly.  The eating for example, the had three different scenes progressing through the day until we had the large amount of meat.  When you see the next scene you think he is getting sick and she isn't because she stopped, yet he is getting his lungs checked.  Check out the cleaning technique the worker uses to keep his device clean ...may be lacking in OSHA standards. Ha!

2.  I am such a novice at this point, but would say, yes I agree with Schickel's assessment as Lloyd seems so normal and every day.  Charlie Chaplin is unique with his size, facial expressions and the way is magically utilizes his body.  Keaton is a risk-taker and seems like the underling with everything his tries.  I guess Lloyd at the time, looked like Mr. American, a guy you would pass on the street.

3.  His style was just so plain simple, every day special events turned into a silly adventure.  He must had made the people of the time believe that anytime was possible.  I see that he must have given others hope, especially those that had very little of the finer things in life.  I like he seemed to appeal to all levels of society.  

 

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In Daily Dose #4 and realizing how visual this comedy really is..... I looked away for a second while watching this clip to see what my dog was barking at, and all of a sudden, Lloyd is getting hit in the head by a lady in the amusement park.  I had to go back and replay to see what that was all about!   :huh:   

 

1)  As far as the setting, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island to create original slapstick gags, Lloyd was masterful.  Eating everything in sight, and then testing the strength of his lungs.... man, I thought for sure that was going someplace else!  Then, at the milk bottle game, accidentally fooling everyone into thinking he really won the game when it was simply a pay-off for swinging back too far....again, I think the degree to which visual slapstick comedy really works is a true testament to the brilliance of these actors performing a century ago.  Lloyd took a common setting, Coney Island, and the rides, the games, the food all played right into the opportunity for these visual gags.

 

2)  I think I would tend to agree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd.  From my l limited experience with Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, I would say that Keaton was more about the violent, shocking stunts that would make the audience gasp and hold their hands up to their mouths for fear of what would come next.  Chaplin and his characters take an obvious stand against authority figures, allowing the audience to cheer for the underdog.  Lloyd, on the other hand, is just a bit different, yet equally funny in his work.  He doesn't rely on over-the-top gags that scare the heck out of viewers, and there is not the consistent underdog theme.  I imagine audience members, both current and those from long ago, viewed Lloyd's films as just the average guy, going about his average day, just being...well... average.  Audiences can connect with that because who hasn't eaten too much at a carnival, who hasn't accidentally bumped into someone in a crowded area.... people are LIVING this life, and they appreciate Lloyd's humor because he is one of them.

 

3)  Lloyd added that sense of normal, everyday people to the history of slapstick comedy.  Without the hugely exaggerated stunts and the tramp that is defying authority, you have just a guy out there.  Granted, slightly unusual things happen to him, but underneath it all, he really is just a guy.  It feels like audiences were making their first, real, personal connections to actors here.

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One good use that Lloyd used in this clip at Coney island was the crab in his coat pocket. Of course, from this clip alone we don't know how the crab got into his pocket, but we can just imagine. The crab gag is unique, funny and used successfully throughout the clip. It moves the scene along and gives reason to certain happenings.

I agree with Schickel idea that Lloyd is a freer comedian due to the fact that Lloyd seems to ease or fall into his situations where Chaplin and Keaton work into them usually.

In this clip, Lloyd contributed to comedy history by his use of his sight gags, i.e. the crab and working with the amusements of that time period.

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1. There's a lot we don't know from this clip ( the crab, the tire marks?) but I loved how he used montage to go from ride to ride--most of which we can imagine but do not see today. For whatever reason, I thought the gag in the tunnel, where the couple is in the tunnel by themselves and all the stuff is falling out of their pockets, and handbag, and hat was very funny and relatable. Also, in Chaplin and Keaton, you do not see groups of people, so that's unique. He's also trying to impress a girl, and fails miserable although she is such a good sport. It was really funny after he ate all that fair junk food, it looked like he was vomiting, but he was just doing another stunt. Very cute.

 

2. More real or freer? Well Chaplin felt compelled to keep his Tramp persona. In that way, though he is legendary and successful, he did limit himself to that character. So, in a way, that may be true. I think the difference between LLoyd and Keaton, is that Keaton devised his own stunts (clocktower?), but Lloyd puts himself in the "real world" often relying on others in his world to help with gags. And a lot of times women, like his partner here. But I also saw him in another movie where he takes a job at a department store and the women--the workers and the customers, run him absolutely ragged. In that sense he has more flexibility to place his character in different settings in ways Chaplin and Keaton would not or could not.

 

3. Lloyd brings the world, the setting, into his gags. They're more open, and though he's the star, he's not the only one who is funny. He's a bit more generous in this sense. It may also just be something that occurred because of technological advances, but LLoyd gets closer to what we see now as the 90 minute comedy film we know today. 

 

 

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One funny thing about taking place in Coney Island is that those were the amusements they had there, people watching now may not realize that, does that make it less realistic?

I also watched the clip on the subway, as a New Yorker, that was a very familiar scene. That is what makes Harold Lloyd more real than others because he was in some real situations. 

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He uses the crab as one major slapstick gag. The part where he eats alot of food is another gag. I agree with Schickel because Lloyd did have a sense of  being realistic and exaggeration. Keaton had a sense of exaggeration, too. The setting of Speedy is an urban area, which us audiences can relate to and the crab gag has Lloyd played into a major part in slapstick comedy.

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1.In all three of the gags performed in “Speedy” Lloyd uses a combination of the Coney Island amusement rides and games, the food, and the crowds. During the first gag, the people are having such a good time on the carnival ride that they don’t notice that he has a crab in his pocket until they get pinched. In the second gag, we watch the couple eat so much food that when we see the young man from behind with the girl patting him on the back, we assume he is getting sick. Once he turns around, we realize that he is blowing into the “test your lung” tube. The third gag is setup and executed very quickly. He “winds up” to throw the ball at the bottles, consequently hitting a man eating an ice cream cone whose reaction knocks bottles down.

 

2. I think that Lloyd’s style of comedy is definitely more realistic and also more sophisticated than Chaplin’s or Keaton’s style. The situations portrayed in Lloyd’s comedy tell a more complete story rather than just being short skits designed primarily for the setup and execution of the gag. 

 

3. I believe that Lloyd added a more realistic quality and a more sophisticated style. Lloyd’s comedy allows the viewer to laugh not only at the gag, but at life and at human traits. I think this style of comedy laid the groundwork for the more full feature comedy films that followed.

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1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? Be specific.

The crab gag is original for that time...we see it many times today but without crabs pinching we see little kids pinching ladies. There is a small gag of that in Who Framed Roger Rabbit with the baby pinching a lady and then she turns around to slap Eddie. I also liked the gag of where his girlfriend was patting him on the back because it looked like he was sick from eating too much food but in the end it was for a carnival game.


2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? Why or why not?

From what I can tell you have 3 kinds (brands) of comedy

Lloyd- Comedy that happens every day

Keaton- Comedy that happens to the working man or DYI builder

Chaplin - Comedy with facial expressions and mini gags


3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy?

As I pointed out i think Lloyd does comedy from normal things that happen to us every day if its at a canvile or trying to get a seat on a subway. Its things that he does with his comedy such as a dollar on a string, kicking someone and pointing to the guy next to you. Looking at a poster of someone who looks like him and says to him self i want to look like him. So i think that kind of comedy is still around today.

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I think others have already replied with all the things I would have said about the 3 questions.

 

What struck me, though, was that, while there was dialog, sound effects and background music, it added little if anything that wouldn't have been there in a silent film with piano or organ accompaniment. There are really no dialog or sound gags as there would be in later sound comedies (and had already been present in some films like the Marxes' Cocoanuts). The added humor that could come from the verbal is only hinted at in this Chase clip.

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1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? Be specific.

I feel that a very powerful tool Lloyd would use is the music & sounds throughout the gags, it was a wonderful addition and adds to the visual scenes we watch throughout the movie. I feel that also, the “extra’s” you see throughout the movie are not just there to be there, Lloyd has you feel that he is not a “main character”, everything is the main character, down from the amusement park, to the people, to the girl by his side, his jacket, and of course the crab. I adore that also, the swirls shown not only serve as a nice transition into the next scenes, but also represent how much fun both characters are having throughout the day. Also, the way he manipulates and uses the power of illusion (I'm probably looking for another word, but this is the best that comes to mind) really makes him unique and way ahead of his time. The scene where she is patting Speedy’s back, I truly believed for a moment he was probably puking from too much food or perhaps a ride that made him nauseous.

2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? Why or why not?

I agree, because while I can relate to both Chaplin and Keaton’s comedy in a “fantasy” sense, I can not only relate but easily picture myself in Lloyd’s place at the amusement park.

3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy?

I feel that while he lessened the need of exaggeration for a slapstick gag, he found new ways to keep it there, without being over the top, made it more real and raw for audiences to enjoy. I also feel that also the use of illusion (or misunderstanding, misinterpretations) on certain scenes was a big contribution to slapstick's history. A 2 for one, as I like to call those scenes.

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I stand corrected.  In my previous reply I thought Chaplin and Keaton were much better and funnier than Lloyd and Chase.  I just finished "Speedy" and it has all the elements of slapstick comedy.  He was, in fact, another genius comedian.

 

Also, I have a hard time finding these message boards.

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In this clip from "Speedy", Lloyd takes us on an outing to Coney Island. As we stroll via the camera along the boardwalk, the attractions and the people create the necessary carnival atmosphere. The sight of the bodies flying off of the "go round" is funny enough, but Lloyd has them helped along by the pincer of a crab claw- we never actually see the crab, nor do we need to. It's much funnier to see only the device and not the perpetrator. The fun continues as Lloyd and his date attempt to walk through the rotating tunnel, slipping and falling all the way, and Lloyd flops like a rag doll on the giant slide- hilarious! The eating montage, while not especially slapstick, is very funny because we suspect that the outcome will be an oversized belly ache, and sure enough it is. And of course, hitting a guy in the face on the wind-up at the pitching booth is classic slapstick. And Lloyd is rewarded for this by receiving a prize- the doll that his girl brought with them to this booth! Lloyd's character may seem more real than some of the other great film comics due to the fact that he doesn't exaggerate his movements or expressions, but acts/reacts a bit more naturally. He also wears clothing that actually fits him- no baggy pants, tight fitting coat or silly hat- only his spectacles, which I suspect were actually in fashion at the time these films were made. All of the great silent film artists implemented many similar gags/techniques, but I think that what Lloyd contributed that is somewhat his own style are the longer sequences of exciting, daredevil stunts.

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1. Lloyd uses the setting of Coney Island extremely well in his creation of an original slapstick gag. He takes the audience to each unique place that we can all relate to at a fair or carnival. Being able to relate to what is seen on-screen is essential to audience appreciation of Lloyd's work.

 

2. I don't quite agree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as a more real comic actor that Keaton or Chaplin. What I do agree with is that Lloyd could, perhaps, see the possible absurdity and comedy in everyday life than Chaplin or Keaton emulated. Lloyd seemed to recognize that funny things happen organically quite often in everyday life and focused more on that rather than create elaborate gags for laughs.

 

3. The contribution of recognizing the comedy in everyday situations was Lloyd's greatest contribution to comedy. Modern-day comedy takes a very similar approach to Lloyd. Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld instantly come to mind as shows that explore everyday life and the comedy that is experienced organically rather than any comedy being forced. Lloyd paved the way for realizing the comedy in everyday life. 

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The crab helping to make people lose their grip on the turntable ride at Coney Island seemed original to me.  The bit with Lloyd accidentally hitting the man in the face at the bottle game then the man knocking the bottles over may have been an original here, though there are similar gags in other pictures.  There was a variation on this in "Number, Please?" where Lloyd was trying to throw the balls, but because he was distracted he threw them into the next game stall smashing the doll prizes.

 

Lloyd appears in this clip as an average person on an afternoon out with his girlfriend.  The gags seem to happen around him.  The crab in his jacket pocket pinching the lady on the midway and the patrons on the turntable ride put Lloyd in a situation where misconceptions happen around him leading to the laughs.  The crab finally pinches Lloyd, throwing him from the ride.  He is shown enjoying his day through the rides, the food, and the carnival games.  This differs from the clips we watched of Keaton with house falling down around him, or Chaplin as the swindler trying to propose to the now rich Tilly while slipping and falling on items in the kitchen.  I think that at times Lloyd played more of a 'real' character, but he had turns with the absurd and dangerous such as the famous clock scene in "Safety Last."

 

I think Lloyd added to the comedy of misconceptions happening around an average person.  The scenes with the crab in this clip, and the police following him thinking he stole a wallet in "Number, Please?" are a style of comedy that appeared several times afterwards.

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1. In what ways does Lloyd use the settings, amusements, and attractions of Coney Island in pursuit of creating original slapstick gags? Be specific.

I think he used the attractions and games at Coney Island to be more relatable. Just an average guy having fun at a carnival. Falling in the wheel, eating too much, and riding rides is funny in itself because it is something that anybody could have happen to them.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Schickel's assessment of Lloyd as more "real" or "freer" of "exaggeration and stylization" than Chaplin or Keaton? Why or why not?

I agree. He seems more like who he is naturally. He doesn't seem to be acting. Just your average guy.

 

3. In watching this clip, what contributions do you see that Lloyd added to the history of slapstick comedy?

I think his contribution was a statement I made a few days ago. Funny people can make anything funny. When he was blowing the the lung machine I laughed because I thought he was throwing up from eating all that food. The lung machine is not inherently funny. He made it funny.

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I agree with Schickel. Lloyd's "boy" is more realistic than Keaton's boy or Chaplin's tramp. In think maybe the essence of slapstick comedy is that we have one foot in the kooky world of childhood fantasy and one foot in the real, everyday adult world we all recognize. We get to move back and forth between these worlds, and we relish those moments when the real world of maturity goes childishly kooky on us. That's a huge part of the fun. 

 

In the nineteen-teens, the photographic capacity of cinema to capture and document scenes of real life out in the real world kept movies somewhat rooted in the everyday adult world. Characters themselves might then take up residence on the childish fantasy side of things. But by the second half of the 1920s, it seems that childishly kooky characters might be losing at least some of their footing in reality. This is maybe when the Tramp became more human, more capable of genuine adult feelings. And this is when Harold Lloyd's everyday Joe, "the boy," began to appeal to audiences. Lloyd's character definitely comes from our adult world, and he mostly seems to live in it. He's the soda jerk next door. It's when he goes into places like Coney Island, where childhood fantasy naturally erupts into our everyday world, that the real zaniness of his slapstick can be unleashed while he keeps one foot in the real adult world.

 

Watching this, I couldn't help noticing how closely it paralleled Clara Bow's date scene in It. Lloyd obviously borrowed here, and he polished it up as well. I think both of these films are good examples of the way slapstick kookiness tended to get more realistically contextualized in the late 20s.

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Filming is on location and it looks to me like it is helped with natural lighting.  I wonder, did they use story boards back then?  They would have filmed before the amusement park was opened, or did they keep real visitors standing aside until the scene was shot?    The clip opens at the entrance of the amusement park and the first focus is on the full-figured lady who is bent over.  It is all very innoncent, but already the set-up is evident.  Something's going to happen.  Speedy and Jane are in the distance, approaching.  They don't notice the lady.  But the audience does.  Everything seems so innocent and ordinary.   Starting the beginning of the clip at the start of the park already creates anticipation of what will happen.  The toy vendor, the lady, Jane and her purse that is dropped is already creating some tension, yet it all looks innocent. 

 

The crab claw is exaggerated in size, and the close-ups add to the humour.  It's that same kind of slow pinch that's funny.

 

The clip goes through lots of wheel-spinning attractions, with each scene marked with a spinning wheel that is dizzying in itself. 

Speedy brings his girl, Jane to enjoy the day with him - he cannot do it alone - he needs his sidekick.  And she is just as physical as he is.  Her reactions are equal in strength to Speedy's.  I think this helps to make Lloyd's character more real, his reactions seemingly more aimed not at the audience, but at his girlfriend.

 

I like how I was set up to anticipate one thing - he's eating and eating and surely going to get sick from all the food.  Then we see his back that still reminds me of an earlier gag, where he leaned against the wet pain.  Jane is patting him.  By his action, I think he is throwing up, then  "Ha! Ha!  Tricked You!"  Speedy is blowing into a tube in a game.  I laughed.  So now the set-up involves tricking the audience too, not just the antagonist.

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Lloyd tries to extract his gags from common and ordinary situations. It is the common man amusing himself on the park and having to face a great sort of moments link any other man. The crab on the first toy bites everuone, not just him. The slide we see is ordinary, so what makes it funny is the way he goes down on it. Any ordinary man eats at the park, but the exaggerated amount of food makes us laugh of him, even thinking he became sick after that on the lung's toy. And finally, the last act relies on an accident that could be a problem to anyone on the park. Again, Lloyd uses the park's installements almost as an organic set that anybody could be. He is the ordinary, middle-class american.

 

Based on the first paragraph analysis, I agree with Schickel's assignment. It's stylization isn't as strong as Keaton's, who make things seems much bigger on his work.

 

My thoughts on Lloyd's contributions are much related to the "goofy" character. That clumsy man that makes everything wrong out of purpose. The "good-hart" but fumbling person. He is one of the fathers of that kind of character and shaped a lot of new actors to come decades later.

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1) The best example I saw of use of environment was the part where he swings his arm back to thrown the ball at the bottles and accidentally hits a tough guy who takes a ball, throws it at lloyd who ducks and it knocks over the bottles and lloyd's girl get a doll. The set up it simple, playing a carnival game, then something goes wrong and there's the aftermath :)

2)real is probably an apt description I think. Most action in his pieces didn't rely on absurdity, rather it was grounded in natural progression of events so that when things do get a little wild, it seems like the most normal thing that could happen :)

3) the ability to keep the humor in a natural environment. Nothing about the way he moves, even the stunts, comes off as artificial and this aspect transplants well into the fabric of comedy and it's genesis. 

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