Turner Classic Movies will launch a salute to slapstick comedy – that beloved but often critically disrespected comedy sub-genre – on Sept. 6 with comedian Greg Proops enlisted as host. Ouch! A Salute To Slapstick will air every Tuesday and Wednesday during September and will feature 56 films focusing on the likes of slapstick originators Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to contemporary greats like Will Ferrell. The series will take comedy lovers back all the way to 1915, with programming including the following:
• The Silent Era – the rambunctious physical nature of the style proved perfect for the era and programming includes Charlie Chaplin’s first feature, Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) and Buster Keaton’s masterpiece Steamboat Bill, Jr.(1928)
• The 1930s – slapstick took on the classic art form it is today with the rise of the popularity of Laurel and Hardy (Sons of the Dessert ) and the Marx Brothers (A Night at the Opera )
• The 1940s & 50s – Slapstick remained a popular art form thanks to practitioners W.C. Fields in The Bank Dick (1940) and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Scared Stiff(1953)
• The 1960s – the style was revived with the all-star It’s Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) and two Peter Sellers masterpieces A Shot in the Dark (1964) and The Party (1968)
• The 1980s and Beyond – the genre and format continued to thrive with Strange Brew (1983) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
To coincide with Ouch! A Salute To Slapstick, TCM has teamed up with Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana to offer a free online multimedia course they’re calling Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies, taught by Richard Edwards, executive director of Ball State’s iLearn Research. You can enroll today! The course will run from Aug. 28 – Oct. 8.
If you’re not interested in taking the course, might we suggest you simply enjoy a sampling of quality slapstick fare: Uproxx and Empire have some solid recommendations. Try not to hurt yourself. In the meantime, let’s soak in this classic slapstick moment between David Spade and the late Chris Farley from 1995’s Tommy Boy.