By David James in The Conversation.
Chaplin wasn’t the funniest. I wasn’t the funniest. Stan Laurel was the funniest.
So said the great Buster Keaton at Laurel’s funeral in 1965. And while Charlie Chaplin has often been called “The King of Comedy”, I would argue that although he is a fascinating figure, it is Stan Laurel’s comedy that remains fresher and funnier today. This is perhaps why some of his most famous films are currently being being re-shown on UK television and why the bestselling author John Connolly has decided to base his latest novel, he, on the comedian’s amazing life story.
Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston in the Lake District in 1890 to a theatrical family. Like Chaplin, he joined the famous Fred Karno troupe and in 1910 he and Chaplin sailed for America. However, while Chaplin was amassing fame and fortune making films, Stan Jefferson (as he was billed at the time) was still plugging away on the Vaudeville circuit. It was around this time that he changed his name to Laurel – his then partner Mae Dahlberg pointed out that having 13 letters in his name was unlucky.
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