I thought I’d continue with some more Laurel and Hardy stuff this week. This is another one of their classics County Hospital. One of the reasons these classic shorts are so great for animators is that we can watch how the characters will approach situations in their own way. Its not the act of intentionally putting in a funny gag that makes these films work, but the humor comes simply from what we know of the the characters personalities and how they approach a situation. For instance, in County Hospital, watch the scene where Stan is eating a hardboiled egg. It’s not an outright funny situation, but the humor and the entertainment simply comes from the idea of, how does Stan eat a hardboiled egg? It’s simple moments like these that strengthen our identification with the characters. Its not simply the gags that make these films funny, but its how we relate to the characters which is the real reason they’re so successful. Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, all the great comedians take this approach to character first before anything else. It’s like being a casual observer in the room when the subject isn’t looking and we watch how they approach doing something. When creating a character performance, if we know the character well enough, just as Stan Laurel the actor knows his character Stan, the humor speaks for itself.
ADDED NOTE: This was the best video version of the short I could find. The quality is decent, but forgive the annoying Pan and Scan movement in the video. Whoever made this was messing around with a video editor or something, and I can’t remember if the music (which is right for the period) was in the original short. Shorts this early the music was a little less prominent in the foreground.