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Eddie Cantor Stand-Up Comedy Routine (sometime in 1923)

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Eddie Cantor in 1923

Released in 1923: A 7 minute early experimental 'talkie' motion picture short featuring the Vaudeville stand-up comedy routine of Eddie Cantor.

Directed by Lee de Forest

The Actors: Eddie Cantor (himself, Vaudeville comedian)


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Eddie-Cantor-1923.mp4 (325mb - 720x540)
Eddie-Cantor-1923.wmv (642mb - 720x540)

What Made Great Grandma Laugh

It is generally accepted that the first talking motion picture was the Al Jolson smash hit "The Jazz Singer" released on October 6, 1927, but that was not the first 'talkie' by far. Many motion picture buffs were experimenting with different ways to blend sound and picture into one grand show, and one of those pioneers was Lee de Forest, who was experimenting with a variable density optical system. Mr. de Forest was an early inventor had over 180 patents to his name, and is most famous for inventing the vacuum tube that made radio and television possible, and powered most electronics until the transistor took over in the 1960's. Who better to put on film for posterity when he wanted to test his system than Vaudeville great comedian Eddie Cantor. Although I wasn't temped to roll on the floor laughing at Mr. Cantor's 7 minute standup routine, audiences in his day were very amused, and to understand why, a little 1920's background may be necessary. Eddie Cantor walks onto the stage to begin his performance and explains that people always think that he is Tommy Meehan . . . now you need to know that Tommy Meehan was a big, bruising half-back football player, and Eddie Cantor is a small, thin, wimpy looking gentleman. Not even a blind man would confuse the two! Much of the rest of the comedy is based on great miss-fortune. In the past some of the greatest laughs were garnered by learning that some other person had more misfortune than normal. We still find odd fascination in the misfortunes of others, if not belly laughs. He explains that his last girlfriend lost her father because of throat trouble . . . . he was hung! He also sings a song about the kind of girl that he likes. One line goes, "The dumber they come, the better I like 'em, 'cause the dumb ones know how to make love." You will probably notice that there is no audience, no 'laugh track' - at the end of each joke you hear dead silence - but know that when he was in front of an audience instead of a camera, he got the biggest laughs of most shows. You won't need a very big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter on it while you enjoy this slice of humorous history, but pop one anyway, just for kicks.