• Steven Heller

When Comics Were Comic

These are unfunny times filled with much hilarity or, shall we say, satiric wit. But in olden times, from the ’20s through the ’50s, our favorite comics were not stand-up stars or talk show hosts, they were the masters of vaudeville transformed on screen—clowns that could get laughs by gestures and nuance, slapstick and absurdity. For your post-Christmas pleasure, here are some of my faves. Can you recall who they were?

Harpo Marx and friend.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in “The Bohemian Girl.”

Abbott and Costello with singing donkey in “Rio Rita.”

Groucho Marx with Margaret Dumont and Lillian Roth in “Animal Crackers.”

W.C. Fields as Brigham Young in Earl Carroll’s “Vanities.”

Ed Wynn on NBC.

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