Thursday, December 22, 2016

Shaw & Lee

This is an odd one I discovered recently.  Al Shaw (1902-85), born Albert Schultzman in Poland, and Sam Lee (1891-1980), the former Samuel Levy of Newark, were Shaw & Lee, a long-time vaudeville act.  In 1928 they made The Beau Brummels, a short film, and one of the early talkies.

What caught my eye is their routine, which has elements of post-modern deadpan and absurdist humor.  Shaw & Lee don't move much, they don't smile, speak in monotones and don't pause between jokes.  A sample of their humor:
When were you born?
I wasn't born, I'm a self-made man.                                                                                      Well, come around when you're finished. 
I dreamt that I died and went to heaven.
What woke you up?
The heat.
I suggest you start watching the video about 4 minutes in and stick around to the end for the self-referential absurdist song.

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