By Rory L. Aronsky | July 13, 2005

If Teller of “Penn & Teller” had ever become pregnant by Harpo Marx, Drew Richardson would be the one to arrive out of that strange scientific amalgamation. Richardson, also known as Drew the Dramatic Fool has an innate sensibility towards comedy that escapes those broad Hollywood types who stretch a joke too far. But that’s not what makes him the true artist he is. Richardson obviously knows silent comedy. Through his act across twelve one-minute comedies, along with a bounty of bonus material, he’s studied Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy and all the rest enough to know what makes comedy work. For him, it’s about getting into the act immediately and not just by the length of his work. He knows that in order to get laughs, there has to a tight sense of timing. It’s point A to point B to point C and then doubling back to trip over point A.

What his character has inside is all our daily issues. While most are apt to have a drink in a more sane way, not spitting it back into a cup to drink again, Richardson considers how something might be if it was done in a different way. His character’s fumbling and bumbling, to be sure, but it’s endearing too. In the bonus materials on his DVD, Richardson includes the very first film he made featuring Drew the Dramatic Fool, “The Guy Who Lived on a Chair”. This was the first and likely only silent film of Richardson’s to feature more sound than just the music (a good move for him to move toward completely silent action later on) and in it, he lives on a chair. He stands on a chair, does work on a chair and even sleeps standing up. He also stares down the flight of stairs, moving himself and his chair toward it, always wondering how he’s ever going to get up there, but moves away again as quickly as he thinks about it. It’s crazy, but relatable. For every time Drew tries to pick up fallen papers with one of those sticky hand toys, swinging it around and aiming right for them, it may remind others of a most uncomfortable apartment in which they once lived. Small walls, tinier space, too much money. That’s the talent of Drew the Dramatic Fool. Whatever daily activity he bungles his way through, it’s funny because as outrageous as his methods are, it’s either us or others who perhaps have done something just as nutty.

Richardson’s talents with comedy aren’t just because he created a character that’s timely. It’s because he understands the past enough to try to recreate it for the future. Now, I’m not talking about remakes. Changing characters around, casting actors where they needn’t be cast, that kind of business is left for the Hollywood bubble to do what they want with it, as useless as it is. In viewing what must have been tons of silent comedy films, and observing camerawork, Richardson obviously noticed in the early days that the camera didn’t move around much. It was stationary, capturing only one angle and never panning. In homage to that, he keeps the camera stationary whenever possible, but also employs the filmic methods of today. He uses superimposition, close-ups, reaction shots, and more. In turn, he propels silent comedy to today’s society successfully. He even goes so far as to have only monochromatic color on the screen. Watching Richardson go through his comical motions is like watching Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and the others that very first time all those years ago. Now, there’s a new name to add to that list: Drew the Dramatic Fool. What he does in the films and even the samples shown from his stage work are miraculous. It’s laughter that doesn’t make anyone feel cheap. It’s genuine. And what should be done by as many people as possible is to purchase a copy. Normally, it’s best just to praise a film and leave it alone, leave it for the readers to find and buy if they want. But Drew the Dramatic Fool’s work is not something to be left alone. It’s money that’s not only well spent, but watching him, laughter becomes a new form of oxygen. Go forth and have hundreds of chuckles.

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