Sunday, December 3, 2023


I stood where Sennett could see me.  He was standing with Mabel, looking into a hotel lobby set, biting the end of a cigar.  "We need some gags here," he said, then turned to me, "Put on a comedy make-up.  Anything will do."
     I had no idea what make-up to put on.  I did not like my getup as the press reporter.  However, on the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat.  I wanted everything a contradiction:  the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.  I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small mustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression.
     I had no idea of the character.  But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was.  I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.  When I confronted Sennett I assumed the character and strutted about, swinging my can and parading before him.  Gags and comedy ideas went racing through my head.
     The secret of Mack Sennett's success was his enthusiasm.  He was a great audience and laughed genuinely at what he thought was funny.  He stood and giggled until his body began to shake.  This encouraged me and I began to explain the character: "You know this fellow is many-sided, a tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.  He would have you believe he is a scientist, a musician, a duke, a polo player.  However, he is not above picking up cigarette butts or robbing a baby of its candy.  And, of course, if the occasion warranted it, he will kick a lady in the rear—but only in extreme anger!"

-Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography

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