My life has been made immeasurably happier by the existence of those two men, from when I saw A Chump at Oxford when I was six or seven, to when I caught The Music Box on Turner Classic Movies a few months ago. It’s the perfection of the long setups that makes their physical-comedy payoffs so effective. I don’t think you have to like slapstick generally (I confess that I am an aficionado) to enjoy their work as the thing of beauty that it really is.
My friend Rita H. recently sent me a video of Laurel and Hardy dancing, accompanied by Santana’s version of “Oye Como Va”: It works really well — and I was delighted to discover, further, that there is a whole genre of videos using the same clip with different popular tunes: the Rolling Stones’ “Out of Time,” Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” and many others. The movie clip is taken from Way Out West, which, perhaps not coincidentally, came out smack in the middle of the last Great Depression. A welcome breath of fresh air.