Thank you to everyone who came out this spring to support Legends of Laughter 2: The Comedy Teams. We averaged 65 patrons a week. We are especially grateful to all our regulars who were there every week, standing in line, enjoying the bonus material, and making great comments after the show.
Thank you to Film Historian Leonard Maltin for his special introduction to our series!
Of those films screened at the Library, the Laurel & Hardy films were the highest-attended. The Devil’s Brother was the largest turnout of the series with 92. The lowest-attended was the Wheeler and Woolsey film, Diplomaniacs, which managed only 45 patrons. (The second lowest was the Martin & Lewis film, Artists and Models, with 56 in the seats.)
Those patrons who did not attend at all missed out on an opportunity to see these films in a group setting. Comedy, more than any other genre, thrives on the laughter of its audience. It’s an experience that cannot be duplicated at home. Both of our Legends of Laughter programs were unique in this respect.
Seeing these films again with an audience one can better appreciate what works on the screen– and what doesn’t. The Laurel & Hardy films (including their shorts which we played) received almost non-stop laughter whereas other films in the series generated mostly a smattering of laughs. Hellzapoppin’ went over very well with our crowd, but Buck Privates Come Home didn’t have the sustained energy; some of the gags in the latter, especially those involving Nat Pendleton –the cop chasing Bud & Lou– seemed a little strained. However, Who Done It?, also with Bud and Lou, played much better. Though Buck Privates Come Home has the better reputation, in retrospect, I might’ve chosen a childhood favorite of mine instead, Abbott & Costello Go to Mars.
Prior to the feature films, we profiled several of the lesser-known comedy teams. These rare shorts went over extremely well. We showcased Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts/Patsy Kelly, and also the team of Clark & McCullough. The laughs that these films got surpassed even some of the feature presentations! We wish we had a few more weeks for Thelma Todd!
LOL2 was only a sampling of the great comedy teams. Obviously, we could’ve done an entire series devoted to Laurel & Hardy or to the Marx Brothers. Nevertheless, we were able to cover a lot of territory in our ten weeks, and we hope we’ve inspired our audiences to search out even more of these great comedy films.
Finally, one of the highlights of the series came when parents brought their kids to some of the films. The children loved Duck Soup, for instance, and it was wonderful hearing their laughter throughout the entire movie. We wish more parents would’ve done the same.
Thank you again for the support this spring. We’ll be back at the Library in March 2017!
Matthew C. Hoffman