Movie Mom

Movie Mom


List: Great Comedy Duos

posted by Nell Minow

As I was watching Year One, I thought about why the Michael Cera/Jack Black teaming does not work very well. They are both very funny guys, and they have that yin/yang element that propels most comedy teams, with one expansive and impulsive and the other more cerebral and hesitant. But there is not a lot of chemistry between them. That led me to thoughts of some of my favorite comedy teams.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby This team was unique because it included two mega-stars who were at the top of their fields as solo performers, and yet they made a series of films as a team that rank with any of the best comedy duos of all time. My favorite: Road to Bali, but this number from “Road to Rio” is one of their all-time highlights.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy These adorable goofs were holy fools, with a wonderful innocence and grace. My favorites: “Two Tars” and “Big Business” But this charming dance from Way Out West is another treasure.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello A classic comedy paring includes a straight man who is a bit slick opposite a comedian who is a bit child-like. My favorite of their movies is “The Time of Their Lives,” but I also love “Buck Privates” and of course their classic “Who’s on first” routine:

The Smothers Brothers Tom and Dick Smothers were also a classic straight man/fool team, but they added in superb music and some barbed political commentary. Their best work was on their television series and I love their CDs, like this one: Sibling Revelry: The Best of the Smothers Brothers

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis This team began as unknowns and became the most successful performers in America, working in clubs, in the early days of television, in recordings, movies, and even in comic books. Then they split, and each achieved stardom as solo artists. Lewis referred to their act as “a handsome man and a monkey.” They had a wonderful fearlessness and obvious affection for each other and an extraordinary chemistry. I prefer their television work to their movies.

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara Ben Stiller’s parents were a very successful comedy team before they went their separate ways as actors on television (Stiller played George Costanza’s father on “Seinfeld” and Kevin James’ father-in-law on “King of Queens” and Meara appeared on “Archie Bunker’s Place,” in “Sex and the City,” and in movies like “The Daytrippers”). Their comedy played off their real-life differences, especially their Catholic-Jewish intermarriage.

There are many more worth mentioning, including Mike Nichols and Elaine May (who both had successful careers as movie directors), Tim Reed and Tom Dreeson (the first inter-racial comedy duo, whose book about the experience is called Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, whose act was very traditional but whose television show, Laugh-In was innovative and hugely influential, and George Burns and Gracie Allen, whose careers included vaudeville, movies, and a groundbreaking television series.



  • jestrfyl

    I would add one that is not a comedy duo in the strictest sense, But Paul Newman and Robert Redford had a sense of each other’s style and timing. I think they were amazing when they worked off each other in only two movies.

  • Alicia

    Good choices, Nell – I would add Lucy and Desi, and Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. I realize that both my additions were couples who ended up breaking up, but they were clearly “made for each other” nonetheless.
    My favorite “Abbott and Costello” movie, which is just as funny today as it was when it first came out, is “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

Previous Posts

The Real Story: Tracks and Robyn Davidson's Long Walk Across Australia
Mia Wasikowska plays real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson in "Tracks," based on the 1980 international best-seller about her 1700-mile walk across Australia with four camels. A thoughtful interview with Davidson in The Australian describes her: Davidson is an enigma. With her patrician air, prim

posted 3:51:08pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: The Dancing Traffic Light
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk[/youtube]

posted 8:00:15am Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

TrueSpark: Teaching Children and Teens About Character With Quality Films
I am honored to serve on the advisory committee for TrueSpark, which provides quality films and curricula for schools at no cost to use in teaching character. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/akEWIRfjnxk?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Parents and teachers who want to lear

posted 8:22:33pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Genevieve Bailey of "I Am Eleven"
There's a reason that so many heroes and heroines of classic literature are eleven years old. It is that last magical moment at the cusp of childhood and adolescence, which is what makes it so fascinating and delightful. Genevieve Bailey remembered the year she was 11 as one of the happiest of her l

posted 8:09:47pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip -- Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave
Alpha and Omega are back! And we are lucky to have an exclusive clip. It is available on Digital HD and On Demand tomorrow, and will be available on DVD at Walmart on October 7. Runt, Kate and Humphrey's Omega wolf cub, sneaks off to explore the haunted Saw Tooth Cave. When Runt finds a wolf who's

posted 10:11:29am Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.