Laurel and Hardy

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Laurel (left) and Hardy (right) in their iconic bowler hats.
As gifted in their repartee as they were in their physical antics, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were the perfect team for the transition from silent film comedy to sound. Their legendary career spanned from 1921 to 1951 and included more than 100 films.
—The Library of Congress's National Film Registry website

Stan Laurel (16 June, 1890 – 23 February, 1965) and Oliver Hardy (18 January, 1892 – 7 August, 1957) are an early 20th century comedy double-act famous for visual-slapstick humour. Among the most enduringly famous of Laurel and Hardy's works are The Music Box, which features two workers' Sisyphean attempts to move a piano up several flights of stairs, and Babes in Toyland.

Laurel and Hardy got their start as a duo with director Hal Roach's Hal Roach Studios in the late 1920s, and occasionally worked with bigger studios such as RKO and MGM. They are notable for their successful transition from silent-era film to "talkies", and were extremely prolific throughout the late '20s and the '30s. In later years they also toured extensively as stage performers.

Though the pair's sketches were often the result of a team of writers, Stan Laurel was something of an "idea man" who rewrote segments of scripts and did a lot of improvising.

Laurel and Hardy films with their own pages on this wiki:

Laurel and Hardy provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Acrofatic: Oliver Hardy was a talented physical comedy performer and a graceful dancer, despite his size.
  • All Just a Dream: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case, Oliver the Eighth
  • Ambiguously Gay: Yes, but really only by today's standards; the notion that "close friends of the same sex = homosexual tension" is a modern idea that would have never occurred to Stan and Babe.
    • However, the silent short Liberty involves them breaking out of prison, changing out of their uniforms and into civilian clothes, getting each other's pants by mistake, and then repeatedly being caught in public dropping their pants while trying to swap them, leading to hilarious amounts of Not What It Looks Like.
    • And at the end of Our Wife Stan and Ollie do somehow end up married. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Amusing Injuries: Frequently.
  • Aside Glance: One of Hardy's trademarks, turning to the camera with an expression that just reads, "Why always me?" Also used when he was baffled by Laurel's actions, when it means "What is he doing now?"
    • While uproariously funny in itself, it was often used to pad out a gag to give the audience time to finish laughing so they wouldn't miss the next bit of dialog.
    • Stan himself would sometimes direct a befuddled gaze at the camera.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: In Laughing Gravy, Stan tries to hoist Ollie up via one of these, with the expected results.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy as well as Fat and Skinny. Oliver Hardy disliked being overweight, but the studios insisted upon his not dieting to maintain this trope.
    • In Spanish they are literally known as "El Gordo y el Flaco" (The Fat and the Skinny).
    • In Dutch too: "De Dikke en de Dunne" (The Fat and the Skinny)
      • Same in Brazillian Portuguese, "O Gordo e o Magro".
      • And in German as "Dick und Doof" (Fat and Stupid).
      • And in Finnish as "Ohukainen ja Paksukainen" (Skinny and Fatty).
      • Just say, "Remember in those old movies, those two funny guys Fatty and Skinny?" and many people know exactly who you mean.
  • Black Widow: In Oliver the Eighth (though she's the rich one, not her husbands).
  • The Boxing Episode: Any Old Port
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The eponymous brotherhood/lodge in Sons of the Desert.
  • Catch Phrase: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!", often said by Ollie to Stan after things went awry. One of their shorts was even called Another Fine Mess.
    • Actually this is a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty. Ollie would sometimes say it was "another nice mess", but never fine. The confusion probably comes from the title of that short.
      • Furthermore, people often misquote the phrase as, "...another fine mess you've gotten us into!"
    • Laurel's tearful, high-pitched whimper of, "Well, I couldn't help it!", often in response to the above accusation.
    • Also, Hardy's "Why don't you do something to help me?" and agonized bellow of "OHHH!"
  • Character Tics: Ollie's bashful tie-twiddling and Stan's head-scratching.
    • And the forceful "Take that!" nods both would give to punctuate an Escalating War.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: Liberty
  • Credits Gag: Another Fine Mess has its credits recited aloud by a pair of twin usherettes.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: At the end of One Good Turn, Stan snaps and starts physically attacking Ollie while shouting threats. The boys added this in because Stan's little girl was scared of her "Uncle Ollie" (she thought the way he bullied Stan in the films was real); seeing a movie where her dad finally stood up to him completely fixed the problem.
    • This was also an example of Serendipity Writes the Plot: The ending was improvised because Stanley's daughter was actually on the set that day and he wanted her to be happy.
    • In Block-Heads, the boys have a run-in with a bratty little kid (played by Tommy Bond, aka "Butch" in The Little Rascals). This leads to the kid's father twice kicking Ollie in the rear...for which Stan retaliates in turn by landing a punch on the guy's chin that knocks him out cold.
  • Cue the Rain: Helpmates
  • The Danza: Laurel and Hardy occasionally played other characters, particularly early in their partnership, but are best remembered for their many shorts and feature-length entries as the characters "Mr. Stanley Laurel and Mr. Oliver Hardy".
    • The early short Putting Pants on Phillip is maybe the best known "alternate" interpretation of the duo, featuring Stan as a young Scotsman determined to keep his kilt on despite his uncle's (Hardy) attempts at... well, see the title.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ollie, usually towards Stanley when he says or does an idiocy. He can also be a silent one.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Eddie Smith in Pack Up Your Troubles. Initially, it seems as though he'll be something of an underdog hero (his wife left him, he has a little toddler he has to take care of, he's been estranged from his father) while Stan and Ollie act as the comic relief. Then, he is killed while serving in WWI, and the focus stays on Stan and Ollie for the rest of the movie as they try to take care of his daughter and reunite her with her grandparents; thankfully, the comedic tone returns after this shift of focus.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Often.
  • Dreadful Musicians: They appear to be this in You're Darn Tootin' and Below Zero.
  • Driven to Suicide: The boys' landlord, in Laughing Gravy.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Ollie's Aside Glances were often left for the last shot of the day. If he looks genuinely harried and frustrated, it's because he'd just been shooting for six straight hours and didn't want to miss his tee time at the golf course.
  • Epic Fail: Lots of it.
  • Escalating War: A frequent occurrence.
  • Fat Idiot: Ollie.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter: Stan is able to do this in Way out West, which baffles Ollie.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Stan and Ollie were masters of improvised comedy.
  • Henpecked Husband: Including one feature titled Should Married Men Go Home?
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: The characters they portrayed, more often than not, and the actors themselves.

On August 7, 1957, Oliver Hardy died. Due to his own poor health, Stan did not attend his funeral, stating "Babe (Hardy's nickname) would understand". After that, Stan realized he would never act again, but he did write gags and sketches for fellow comedians. People who knew Laurel said he was absolutely devastated by Hardy's death and never fully recovered. On one occasion following Hardy's passing, a casual fan mistook Laurel for his late partner. "Aren't you Oliver Hardy?" the fan asked. Laurel obliged, claiming he was indeed Oliver Hardy. The fan then asked whatever happened to "the other guy". Laurel tellingly replied: "Oh, him? Well, he went quite mad".

  • Identity Amnesia: In A Chump at Oxford, Stan is revealed to actually be one "Lord Paddington", a brilliant and snobby university scholar who lost his memory and left campus when a window closed on his head. Throughout the film he keeps getting hit with the same window and changing back and forth between Paddington and Stan.
  • Large Ham: Hardy
  • Legion of Lost Souls: Beau Hunks, The Flying Deuces
  • Mad Scientist: Dirty Work
  • Malaproper: Stan, often.

"You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead."


Stan: I've certainly got to hand it to you, Ollie.
Ollie: For what?
Stan: Well, for the meticulous care with which you have executed your finely-formulated machinations in extricating us from this devastating dilemma.
Ollie: (*stares incredulously at the camera*)
Stan: Then, on the other hand... (*lapses back into his usual confused state*)
Ollie: Get in bed. "Meticulous". Hmmph!