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Slapstick Comes Back to Broadway

A man walks out on stage, trips over an ottoman, and falls down. A woman walks out on stage, trips over the man – who is still on the floor, writhing – and falls down. Then a picture falls off the wall and makes a loud noise. This is, in a very basic, embryonic state, slapstick, or physical comedy, and eighty or so years ago it made the Three Stooges, among others, very, very wealthy. But you knew that. Not the lowest form of comedy – that would be, according to Freud, the pun, although Freud had some deep-seated problems of his own, so never mind him and his cigar or whatever he’s calling it these days – probably nothing, because he is entirely dead – pratfalls and comedic violence and the like have long since pretty much disappeared from the Broadway stage as theatrical fashion shifted to embrace more cerebral, dialogue-driven stuff and it became ridiculously easy to find whatever sort of “fatty falls down” shtick you wanted in TV and film and, now, online; I mean, you ever google “fail videos”? Hours of guys getting mangled. Interestingly, though, a couple of gentle examples of slapstick are tearing it up on Broadway right now, in the forms of Peter and the Starcatcher and, particularly, One Man, Two Guvnors, whose main character is a very round man who falls down a lot. (FULL ARTICLE: Ed Siegel, WBUR)

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