Comedy kings’ legacy lives on

It won’t have escaped you that there’s a new film on release about Laurel and Hardy’s British theatre tours of the late 40s/early 50s. It’s called “Stan and Ollie”.

They came over here when the Hollywood studios, which had made pots of money out of the duo in their heyday, turned their back on them.

Here’s a warning to anyone thinking of entering showbiz. Buy yourself a warm overcoat, because there’ll be times when it can get terribly cold, even if you’re a comedy genius.

The two actors who play Stan (Steve Coogan) and Ollie (John.C. Reilly) have been tirelessly plugging the film all over the media. In fact, they seem to have popped-up on almost every TV show in the schedules apart from Dancing On Ice– and that’s only because they had a prior commitment on the other side of London to bake a cake for Mary Berry.

Hats off to them for sounding so unflaggingly enthusiastic about the film, with no sign of ‘anecdote fatigue’ which can easily set in by the second day of back-to-back press junkets in a London hotel, with PR people timing each allotted 10-minute chat with a stop watch.

Although I – and I’m sure you, too – knew that Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, some interviewers hadn’t realised that he was British until they’d seen a preview of the film. Which makes me wonder if their knowledge of cinema history only goes back to Star Wars.

Until he went out of favour with studio bosses, Stan was one of the three most popular and influential comedians in Hollywood.  The other two were Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope. All British.

Bob famously said, “I left England at the age of four when I realised I’d never be King”. He was wrong. Hope, Chaplin and Stan Laurel all became Kings of Comedy.

Right. Clear off! You’ve had your 10 minutes with me.

Who’s next? And get me some fresh coffee!