Make ‘Em Laugh : The Funny Business of America
Episodes 3 ? Slip on a Banana Peel: The Knockabouts
Directed by Michael Kantor
Written by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon
PBS January 21st 2009, 8 P.M.

Charlie Chaplin opens episode 3 of Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, Slip on a Banana Peel – The Knockabouts. This is the episode for fans of the early days of comedy and the great comedy teams such as Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and so on. Of course, no documentary on physical comedy would be complete if it did not pay special attention to Lucille Ball.

“Chaplin was a funny thing in a regular world; Keaton was a still thing in a crazy world.” (Larry Wilmore, writer/performer) is one of the most astute commentaries in this third episode. If you are a fan of comedy teams, there is little in Slip on a Banana Peel – The Knockabouts that will be fresh information. Fortunately, there is some very interesting and funny footage to make up for it.

This third of six Make ‘Em Laugh episode is the most structured of them all. The Three Stooges in a scene with Lucille Ball segues elegantly into the Lucille Ball segment of the show which has a callback to the Marx Brothers and then uses the typewriter gag to segue to the comedy team of Martin and Lewis. Of course, Jerry Lewis brings on Jim Carrey.

Make ‘Em Laugh: Funny Business of America is such a solid documentary you come to expect unexpected revelations and new insights into what is comedy. Slip on a Banana Peel – The Knockabouts does not do that. It is, however, entertaining and will perhaps bring new fans to the original slapstick comedy teams.


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