That-a-way presents “Pipe Down!” – a two-act slapstick production starring Tip & Hurl, written, produced, photographed and edited by your humble blogger. For more info go to that-a-way.com/tip&hurl.htm
Enjoy the HD short film in its entirety!
I’m coining a phase: the “near-antiquity.”
It’s that part of the ancient that’s closest to contemporaneity. Or, more accurately, that part of modernity that may, at any second, fall into antiquity.
Slapstick is very much on this brink (or is it?) and it’s the hope of this website it to reign in its relevancy, so’s not to become – like latin – dead.
So, this is kind of an easy observation, but nevertheless relevant give the purview of the site and the specificity of the post: most of Grocho’s character names are code for phalli (or, as Steve Jobs markets them, iPhall). Lets see, there’s Rufus T. Firefly, Doctor Hackenbush, Sam Grunion (look it up), Otis B. Driftwood and of course, Professor Wagstaff, (see link below; no pun intended).
This post revives an earlier debate about dramatic activity/passivity in slapstick.
Here’re two titans of the silent screen telling jokes with movie-making itself, yet the two gags are achieved through opposing performances. The first is Chaplin in 1914 from Kid Auto Races:
This clip is an abridged version of what drives the whole short: a man can’t help but flirt with the camera. Or is he courting with the audience he anticipates. Or is he in lovestruck with the cameraman? It’s hilarious, and you can extrapolate Chaplin’s entire cinema based on the few clownish emotions and dramatic ideas it presents.
However, here’s the same set-up (public event, large crowd, film-within-a-film) but the comedy comes from a much deeper subversion of our expectations:
This bit from Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926), especially when looked at after Chaplin, is spinning with ideas about spectral identity and other Hegelian/psychological head-busters: Can activity (action) operate as passivity (inaction)? More mysteriously, can inaction ever NOT be a type of action (NOTE: the outgoing U.S. Congress, the 112th, earned the moniker “D0-Nothing Congress” but this is of course a misnomer; if the press were more analytical they would have more accurately named it the “Do-Everything-We-Can-Prevent-Action Congress”), as the only achievable passivity is in a thing’s non-existence, which then can’t be discussed in terms like “achievable” so why are we even talking about it?
This is why Langdon’s gag is so phenomenal (NOTE: the joke may or may not have been written by Frank Capra). A movie star playing camera shy running from a camera is first hilarious, secondly thought-provoking, (both of these are apt to describe KAR) but third, it’s twisted, inserting a bit of tragedy into the tomfoolery. There’s an element of the nightmare, of terror, of the uncanny.
In general, what is uncanny can not be entertaining, which is why Chaplin always framed (and in some cases masked) disturbing or uncomfortable subjects like war or poverty or Fascism in moral righteousness and divine/poetic justice, aka: a happy ending (despite his Tramp’s ambiguous future at the end of most of the features).
Langdon however is not a sentimentalist. If anything he’s a surrealist, upending our ideas about story and narrative by withdrawing from reality and, through slapstick logic, guiding us somewhere strange.
Apologies for the 7-month gap to everyone that’s followed The Slapstick Linguist in the past. In addition to a brand new baby boy we welcomed just before September, I’ve been devoting hours and hours to what you see above.
“What do I see above?” you may very well ask yourself. Well, it’s a bookcover I designed, one that’ll be bound around a novel I’ve been writing since the week of Deepwater Horizon back in 2010 (Note: bookcovers take less time to design than novels do to write, but not by much; both don’t take as much as it does to plug a hole miles under the ocean).
That-a-way Film Company will be selling copies later this month. It’ll be available on our site, this blog, and Amazon, and at least a couple independent bookstores around the Capital Region.
Our hope is to sell enough copies of the novel to finance a feature film production, beginning hopefully this year.
So, look forward to some new regular posts this week, new That-a-way production-themed posts, and lookout for The Wrong Trail, a Cowstein & Bramblestamp novel.
p.s.: If any readers can impart any helpful tips on self-publishing, online distribution, or ebook marketing, please do send them along.