Gene Sheldon

I found this video through Pat Cashin and his Captain Kangaroo Blog

I had never heard of this fellow Gene Sheldon. He opens the act with the mannerisms of Harry Langdon, then does a short leg/long leg bit I recently saw Chaplin do in “Limelight.” He finishes with a cute pantomime of sewing his fingers together.

David Robinson on Music Hall

Chaplin biographer David Robinson wrote this passage about English music hall, where Charlie learned his craft.  It contains good advice for makers of short animation.

“A music hall act had to seize and hold it’s audience and to make it’s mark within a limited time – between six and sixteen minutes.  The audience was not indulgent, and the competition was relentless.  The performer in the music hall could not rely on a sympathetic context or build up : Sarah Bernhardt might find herself following Lockhart’s Elephants on the bill.  So every performer had to learn the secrets of attack and structure, the need to give the act a crescendo – a beginning, a middle, and smashing exit to grab the applause.”



Lately I have seen a few movie trailers that include a scene where something awkward happens, and quickly moves to the next shot of an observing character saying “Awkward” in slightly sing song voice. “Rio” and “Hoodwinked Too” come to mind. It’s been done enough. I hope to never hear it again.

Real awkwardness, or perhaps I should say embarrassment resulting from an awkward situation, is heavily reliant on great acting. It’s more than just setting up an awkward situation. It generally requires a bit of time, several extra beats of silence, for the embarrassed character to show those subtle responses to being watched. Lengthy moments of silence with little going on is very rare in animation. Partly because of expense, but mostly because of pressure to keep things moving.

For an example of how awkwardness/embarrassment should look, here is youtube video posted by my friend John Towsen. He put it on his Physical Comedy Blog The awkward moment arrives just after Rowan Atkinson enters the stage. Beyond that, there is wealth of great physical comedy here.

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