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A Brief History Of The Big Men Of Comedy

by  |  August 18th, 2012  |  Blog  |  4 Comments

Being a fan of entertainment history, a few years ago I was doing some research on the Silent Film era and came across a heavy set man that started off working as a handyman, but ended up being one of the biggest men in comedy during the silent film era… That person of course being, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle (Tomalio)!

Now unfortunately Fatty Arbuckle’s career would be destroyed by scandal, but since then there has been other big men that have made it in to the world of comedy, as a matter of fact the next comedian that I thought I would mention is one of the earliest comedy teams in Hollywood history, that being Laurel & Hardy, or more directly: Oliver Hardy (Casey’s Birthday).

Oliver Hardy

Now Oliver Hardy (who was born, ‘Norvell Hardy’), this amazing actor, who would go on to appear in over 400 movies with or without his partner, ‘Stan Laurel’ (The Flying Deuces), started off his career playing the role of Reggie Kewp in the comedy/short movie, Outwitting Dad (1914).

For that movie he was billed as ‘O.N. Hardy’, but it wasn’t until a little over 10 years later that Oliver Hardy would go on to meet Stan Laurel (Nuts In May), when they filmed their first movie together, Slipping Wives (1927).

This started these to guys on an epic career of working together in Hollywood, which would include such movies as, Scram! (1932), Babes In Toyland (1933), and even Laurel And Hardy: Way Out West (1937) to name a few!

The next one that I thought that I would mention is a comedy team that would go on to be one of the first comedy teams to cross the comedy/horror barrier, and that is Abbott & Costello… Or more directly Lou Costello!

Lou Costello

Lou Costello (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein) in 1927 would head to Hollywood in an effort to try his hand in the entertainment industry, (the only problem is that he didn’t make it that time), but after meeting Bud Abbott (Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man) during his time working as a Dutch accented comic at a Burlesque show, they would go on to comedy history!

What I mean by this, is that after working the Vaudeville circuit along with other smaller club circuits, Lou Costello and Bud Abbott would head on to movie history, with (besides the two movies mentioned above), would go on to do such movies as, Abbott & Costello In Hollywood (1945) & Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) to name a few…

In the end this comedy team maybe one of the earliest comedy teams in Hollywood history to be the most recognizable and beloved by fans, and professionals in the industry!

The next person that I thought that I would mention here is, Jerome ‘Curly’ Howard:

Jerome ‘Curly’ Howard

A member of the Three Stooges comedy team, Curly would replace his brother, ‘Shemp’ Howard in the Three Stooges comedy team, which at that time included another brother of Curly’s, ‘Moe Howard’, and fellow Stooge, ‘Larry Fine’.

From 1930 to when Curly had to leave the comedy group in 1946 due to medical reasons, Curly would go on to be one of the most famous Stooges in that team, and would end up helping that team become another comedy team that would become historic!

Now I thought that I would jump ahead a few decades and talk about some comedians that became so big that they would go on to pioneer a lot of what makes modern comedy so brilliant!

The first of these people that I thought that I would mention was John Belushi (National Lampoon’s Animal House):

John Belushi in a scene from, ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)

Now this guys career was amazing, this guy was huge, he was huge in talent and huge in heart, he started off being one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, back in 1975, since then John Belushi’s career as a funny man would go on to include such great films as, John Landis’ (Coming To America) National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) and Steven Spielberg’s (Saving Private Ryan) 1941 (1979) to name a few!

Unfortunately John Belushi would pass away relatively early in his career, but we are fortunate to have been able to enjoy what this huge talent gave to this world even today!

The next one that I wanted to mention is actor John Candy (Uncle Buck):

John Candy

Now this guy is truly amazing, I mean with almost 70 appearances that this guy made in front of the camera, John Candy started off his career on TV in the TV series, ‘Cucumber’, this guys career would sky rocket, with such films under his belt, having worked alongside John Belushi in, 1941 (1979), The Blues Brothers (1980) with Dan Aykroyd (My Girl) (and John Belushi), and yet even another true classic, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), with Chevy Chase (Caddyshack) to name just a few!

In the end unfortunately this guy would also pass away at the age of 43 in 1994, while making the comedy, Wagons East (1994).

The last person that I thought that I would mention here is actor Chris Farley (Tommy Boy):

Another actor who came from the school of, ‘Saturday Night Live’, after Chris Farley left Saturday Night Live, he along with fellow SNL alumni would start working together to make one of the better Comedy teams of the 1990s!

These two comic geniuses would go on to make such awesome movies as, Tommy Boy (1995) as well as Black Sheep (1996)!

In the end I am not trying to advocate that to be a truly legendary comedian, you have to become a heavy set person, but the truth is, is that there are some truly legendary heavy set comedians that are mentioned above… And also some that aren’t mentioned in here at all!

Please enjoy these trailer for a cross section of these guys careers:

The first one that I thought that I would put up is this Comedy/Short Film for the movie, Coney Island (1917) starring Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle:

The next one that I thought you guys would enjoy, is this trailer for the Laurel & Hardy classic, Babes In Toyland (1934):


Another one that I thought that you guys would enjoy, is this trailer for the Abbott & Costello classic, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948):

I thought you guys would also enjoy this short from The Three Stooges, starring: Curly Howard, Moe Howard and Larry Fine:

Also, the trailer for the John Belushi classic, National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978):

And as for John Candy, we have the trailer for the hilarious Space classic, Spaceballs (1987):

And lastly the trailer for the Farley classic, Tommy Boy (1995):

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.


  1. Debbie

    August 21st, 2012at 7:27 PM(#)

    That’s a great review! I love Chris Farley, and Tommy Boy is my all time favorite movie!!! LOL Just thinking about that bathroom scene makes me crack-up!

  2. Nathan Strack Nathan Strack

    September 13th, 2012at 11:56 PM(#)

    Hey Mom,

    Yeah there is a lot of truly hilarious moments in that movie. :)

  3. Brooke

    August 30th, 2012at 7:59 PM(#)

    Thanks for laying out a brief history of the big men of comedy! I’ve been a fan of both Chris Farley and John Candy since they were making movies while I was still pretty young. It’s crazy to think that not only were these guys big and funny, but they all died fairly young. I love that you have a Tommy Boy clip on here because that is my number one, most favorite movie of all time. I told that to my boss at Dish and he recommended I check out John Belushi. I started adding several of Belushi’s movies to my Blockbuster @Home queue after I looked him up on IMDB. I’m surprised that all of the black and white video clips of these actors I’ve never heard of are funny, I’ll have to find their films too – thanks again!

  4. Nathan Strack Nathan Strack

    September 13th, 2012at 11:55 PM(#)

    Hey Brooke,

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the blog! Tommy Boy… Believe it or not that was how I got introduced to the comedy of both David Spade and Chris Farley, and if you like them, then I would recommend checking out there time on Saturday Night Live (Utterly hilarious!) And as for John Belushi, if you haven’t seen any of his work, then I would recommend Animal House (An utterly awesome film with a great cast)! And if you haven’t seen any of the old Three Stooges shorts then… Your in for a real treat! Enjoy! :)

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