Register for your 100% free subscription. Full details.
Man, I love Charlie Chaplin movies. That Little Tramp cracks me up! “They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” I’d yell to my wife as she cleaned the tub. “Can you help me clean?” she’d yell back. But I’d turn up the TV and pretend not to hear.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered the next Charlie Chaplin right here in town! The similarities are endless.
First, he’s totally silent. He just wags his mouth and hands you a card of what he ‘said.’ They look just like the old intertitle cards! Then he’ll do a cute stunt, like fall down the stairs. Once, my wife asked his name and he handed her a card – “Buck up – never say die.” Then he threw himself down the stairs. “Just like Charlie,” I howled, as she called an ambulance.
He’s a dead ringer for Chaplin too: The rumpled suit, the little mustache. Plus, he’s in black and white. His skin, eyes, hair – all 100% drained of color. My wife thinks he should see a doctor, but I worry that could mess with the impression. “Shh,” I tell her.
Also, whenever he’s around, old-timey piano music starts playing from out of nowhere. No-one knows how to explain it, but I do know this: when you hear that phantom ragtime approaching, buddy, you’re in for a show.
Seriously, if you’re a big-time Hollywood agent looking for the ‘next big thing,’ you’ve got to come see this guy. And can I borrow fifty bucks?
The missus and I invited him for dinner. He jammed his fork in the dinner rolls and made them dance around the table. Then he ate his shoe, and my wife suggested we serve the main course. When we came back from the kitchen, he was strapped in this huge, automated eating machine that kept shoving corn down his throat. “Modern Times,” I nudged her. “What on earth…?” she stammered. “We were only gone a minute.” The machine threw soup on her and I choked on a chortle.
I got him a job at the factory where I work. He immediately started pulling levers and turning cranks on the big machine till it burst into flames. As workers rushed to put it out, he’d squirt them in the eye with an oilcan and do a little dance. Then this ‘modern-day Chaplin’ lay down on the conveyor belt and got sucked into the big machine’s gears. “Dear god,” cried the foreman, “he’ll be ripped apart!” When he popped out unscathed, I leapt up and cheered, while some tended to the burn victims and others whispered, “It’s impossible…”
A town meeting was called to decide what to do about this would-be film star. The factory owner wanted him arrested. The town doctor recommended a series of tests. “No, no, no,” I declared. Clearly we should spend the town’s savings on movie cameras, crew members and a blind flower girl. But they all shouted me down. Philistines.
“Where did he even come from?” wondered Bev the florist. “What does he want with us?” wailed Jim the school-teacher, whose brother died in the factory fire. “Look,” I countered. “We have our very own ‘Little Tramp’ here, recreating some of the all-time greatest comedy bits for nothing. Three cheers for the new Charlie Chaplin! Hip-hip–!” But Jim kept on blubbering.
Now, I know what you’re saying: this isn’t the first time I claimed to have found a modern-day silent film star. There was that sad-looking fellow who houses kept falling on, and that four-eyed geek who’d hang from the big clock downtown. They were okay, but this guy’s the real deal. Anyway, they died from their stunts. So it’s a moot point.
Later, I was watching the news and learned he’d seized power as the town’s new fascist ruler. “Honey, he’s doing Great Dictator now,” I yelled to my wife, before remembering she’d moved out. They showed him barking gibberish as tanks rolled into frame. Our new overlord danced with a globe-shaped balloon and soldiers opened fire on the protesters. Talk about biting satire!
When the secret police arrested me and threw me in the gulag for laughing at our Chaplinesque tyrant, there was no use denying it. That Little Tramp cracks me up!