The Story Of Slapstick. Copyright: The Comedy Unit.

The Story Of Slapstick

BBC Two documentary. 1 episode in 2009. Features Vic Reeves, Mathew Horne, Reece Shearsmith, Ben Miller, Sally Phillips, Graeme Garden, Neil Innes and others.

Press Clippings

The Story of Slapstick began by being mildly diverting (good clips of Chaplin and Buster Keaton) but got more and more infuriating as it proceeded, undone by feeble apercus from its contributors ("Tears and laughter are very close" - Nicholas Parsons) and transparently wrong-headed cultural generalisations in the script ("We can't get enough of silent comedy these days." Eh?) By the end, I wanted to smack it in the face with a giant frying pan.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 28th December 2009

There's a certain kind of comedy snob who, if you admit to loving slapstick, looks pityingly at you as if you'd said lollipops were your favourite food. But think of the great sitcom moments and they're physical: Del Boy falling through that bar, Basil Fawlty thrashing his car with a branch, David Brent's dance... And that's before you get to the surrealism of, say, Monty Python's fish-slapping. So a big ker-tish on the cymbals to this one-off doc devoted to "the universal language of comedy". DVDs weren't available as we went to press, but we're promised a feast of clips, from Buster Keaton's collapsing house onwards, as well as sage comments from the likes of Vic Reeves, Ben Miller and Gavin & Stacey's Mathew Horne. And a great, clanging frying pan in the face for anyone who says it's childish.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 26th December 2009

Video Preview: The Story of Slapstick

There's lots of different ways you can celebrate Christmas this year, but what better way to relax than watching someone get hit in the face with a frying pan?

Jon Aird, BBC Comedy, 24th December 2009

From Laurel and Hardy's collapsing pianos to Reeves and Mortimer's oscillating frying pans, this diverting documentary traces the enduring appeal of physical comedy. While its origins are ascribed to a combination of anti-authoritarianism, sadism and reckless juvenility, clips illustrate the meticulous timing vital to the custard pie and the banana skin. Barry Cryer, Ben Miller and Graeme Garden are among the expert insight-dispensers; but what it all boils down to is Frank Spencer hurtling through a shopping precinct on roller-skates ("BETTY!"). Champion.

Sarah Dempster, The Guardian, 23rd December 2009