What can we learn ?

• the pacing of the narrative
• the establishment of a pattern
• the presentation of the problem
• the build-up
• the resolution
• that success of the joke as design can be assessed because of audience response (laughter, hysteria, silence, booing etc)

The mise en scene of a film; what can be learned by the designer or illustrator of the way action/flow moves through space ? The mise en scene is a complex term generally used in reference to the staging of a play or film is considering a s a whole the settings, the movements of the actors in relations to the settings, lighting and so forth.


1. Leo McCarey on early Laurel and Hardy films. " At that time comics had, for the most part, a tendency to `do too much'. With Laurel and Hardy we introduced a nearly opposite comic conception. I tried - we tried - to direct them in such a way that they showed nothing, expressed nothing, which had the consequence of making the public, which was waiting for the opposite, laugh. We restrained ourselves so much in showing the actors' feelings that the public couldn't hold back its laughter, and laughed because we remained serious. " Cahiers du Cinema Feb 1965 quoted in Leyda, Film Makers Speak

2. "Laurel and Hardy have modernised the custard pie slapstick." Pare Lorenz 1932 (from Lorenz on Film) . "They are famous for the world they tumble about them. They have but to touch the garden gate and it collapses it ruins before their eyes. Do what they will, the bricks of their houses dislodge on their inoffensive and embarrassed heads, the water-butt leaps up to meet them, the window slams on their fingers. It is no wonder if sometimes in desperation they give up the impossible task of staving off chaos and, in an orgy of destruction, welcome it. They are perhaps the Civil Servants of comedy. Nothing on earth would please them better than a quiet permanence in all things." John Grierson, as beneath. "Yet through it all there remains the curious continuity of two figures, one thin and one fat, which deplore the disturbances they are creating. They hate it, and would avoid it if they could. They are men of peace. But in this case the meek are not blessed. They do not inherit the earth.They inherit chaos."Grierson.


Tit for Tat
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
2 reels, sound, 20 minutes;
directed by Charles Rogers
produced by Hal Roach
photographed by Art Lloyd
edited by Bert Jordan

Tit for Tat is the only sequel to another L&H film, Them Thar Hills (which accounts for the recognition between L&H and the Grocer, Charlie Hall. His wife hums a song from that film).

PLOT – Stan and Ollie start up an electrical goods shop next to Hall's Groceries. Ollie inadvertently finds himself on the grocer's window and is helped downstairs by the grocer's wife. The grocer besmirches Ollie's reputation and action leads to retaliation. A policeman intervenes and eats a marshmallow coated with alum meant to discomfort L&H. NB Alum causes the lips to pucker up and dry the mouth.

EXERCISE Mentally construct for yourself the ground plan of the set. How would you make a diagram of the events that registered the role played by the shoplifter ; the pace and content of the story


• Richard Roud(ed) Cinema A Critical Dictionary The Major Film-Makers, Viking Press New York, 1980 Vol2, "Laurel and Hardy"
• James Agee, "Comedy's Greatest Era", from Agee on Film, Wideview Books, New York, 1983
• McCabe and Kilgore Laurel and Hardy, The Official Record, Ballantyne New York 1975
• John Grierson, Grierson on Documentary, Faber and Faber London 1966, see "The Logic of Comedy"
• Andrew S.Horton, Comedy/Cinema/Theory, Univ. of Calif. Press London and Berkeley, 1991, see Noel Carroll, The Sight gag; Peter Lehman, Penis-size Jokes and Their relation to Hollywood's Unconscious; William Paul, Charles Chaplin and the Annals of Anality; Cartoon and Narrative in the Films of Frank Tashlin and Preston Sturges.
• Alastair Cooke, Garbo and the Night Watchman, Secker and Warburg London 1971.


• W.H.Auden ( "Notes on the Comic", in The Dyer's Hand and other Essays, 1962).
• Charles Baudelaire, On the Essence of Laughter, and in general, On the Comic in the Plastic Arts, (1855)
• Max Beerbohm, "Laughter" in And Even Now, 1920
• Henri Bergson, Laughter, 1900
• Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)
• Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Comic" in Letters and Social Aims, (1883)
• Lucien Fabre, Le Rire and les rieurs (1929)
• Henry Fielding, preface to Henry Andrews (1742)
• Sigmund Freud Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, 1905; Humour, (1927)
• David Hartley, Observations on Man (1749)
• William Hazlit, "On Wit and Humour", in Lectures on the English Comic Writers (1819)
• Johann Huizinga, Homo Ludens, (1944)
• Leigh Hunt, Wit and Humour (1848)
• Laurent Joubert, Traite du ris, (1579)
• Suzanne Langer, "Great Dramatic Forms : The Comic Rhythm", Feeling and Form (1953)
• George Meredith, The Idea of Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit, (1877)
• Marcel Pagnol, Notes sur le Rire, (1947)
• Luigi Pirandello, L"Umorismo (1920)
• Herbert Spencer, "The Physiology of Laughter" in Essays Scientific Political and Speculative ((1868-74)
Literary and Narrative Conventions of the Humorous (don't expect to know them all) from Evan Esar, The Humor of Humor, Phoenix, London 1954,

Types of Humour

The Wisecrack, The Epigram, The Riddle,
The Conundrum, The Gag, The Joke, The Anecdote)
Techniques of Humour
(The Chain, The Round, The Pendulum, Blunting, The Reversible, Cumulative Humour, The Nutshell)
Tangletalk, The Spoonerism, Fuddletalk, The Tongue Twister, Babytalk, Cockney, Doubletalk)
(The Pun, The Wellerism, The Transposer, The Antonymist, The Blendword, The Repeatism, The Macaronic)
The Fool
( The Fooltown, The Gothamite Tale, The April Fool, The Absent Minded Professor, The Fool's Query, The Little Moron)
The Slip
(The Malapropism, The Boner, The Bull, The Goldwynism, The Freudian Slip)
The Blunder
( Mistaken Identity, The Double Blunder, The Typographic Error, The Bonehead, The Recovery, The Relapse)
The Wisecrack
(The Biogram, The Height, The Caricaturism, The Caller, The Daughter, The personifier, The You-Tell-'Em)
The Gag
(Repartee, The Panhandle, The Hecklerism, The Sentry, Who was that Lady ? Knock, Knock, The Soup Fly)
The Trick
(The Practical Joke, The Catch, The Seat Getter, The Trick Sign, The Trick Bet, The Attention Getter)
The Twist
(Twist Wit, The Extended Proverb, The Laffer, The Parkerism, The Marshallism)
(Types )
(Satire, Irony, Parody, Sarcasm, Burlesque)
The Epigram(The Adviser, The Before and After, The Old Fashioned Girl, The Rhyming Epigram, The Confucian Saying)
The Funny Story(The Shaggy Dog Story, The Tall Tale, The Marred Anecdote, The Fable, The Catch Tale)
(The Nonsensism, The Limerick, Feminine Logic, The Exaggerism, The Little Willie) "To all the banterers, buffoons, burlesquers, caricaturists, cartoonists, clowns, comics or comedians, cynics, funny fiends, gongorists, ironists, jesters and jokers, laughing lovers, mythmakers, parodists, punsters, quipsters, raconteurs, railers, satirists, scoffers, wits and witlings, zanies and one wise wife who over the years have made me laugh." Dedication to N.H.Holland's Laughing, a Psychology of Humour, Cornell Univ Press Ithaca, 1982