'Sweet Spot' With Mike Sugerman: An Enduring Fandom For Laurel & Hardy

October 18, 2018 - 6:08 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Stan Laurel died in 1965, Oliver Hardy in 1957 – and yet, they may be making a comeback.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman told us in this week’s “Sweet Spot,” a new big-budget biopic is about to come out about the comedians known as the two minds without a single thought, as they are described.

The film will put Laurel and Hardy back in the limelight – though for some, they never really left it.

“I still think they are hysterical,” said Eric Gross of Long Island. “As many times as I’ve seen some of them, I still laugh.”

Gross is a member in good standing of the Sons of the Desert – the official Laurel and Hardy Appreciation group that meets once a month in a Manhattan church hall.

They show “The Boys” as they are known, and other comedies from the era – all on film.

“Stan himself was one of the founding members,” said Jack Roth, currently the Grand Sheik of the local Sons of the Desert “tent,” as chapters are known. There are 100 nationwide.

Roth owns every Laurel and Hardy film, along with 2,500 other pieces of celluloid.

“I laugh as much as when I was a kid, and I laugh in the same place in the same movies now,” said Jim Riscigna, who was coming to his second meeting when Sugerman visited. “My brother bought me a membership to the Laurel and Hardy Club. I went once – 1971 – and I didn’t go back again, until tonight.”

“My dad watched when he was a youngster himself, and Saturday morning, we would sit down and watch together, and he would share that fun with me, and it made me a fan,” said Gross.

And now, another generation may take another look at the slapstick geniuses, as a behind-the-scenes portrayal of their later careers gets released. “Stan & Ollie” stars Steve Coogan as Laurel and John C. Reilly as Hardy.

“Hopefully, there will be something in there – like the silliness of them and the funniness of them – will possibly capture a kids imagination,” said Roth. “It certainly did for this kid.”

That would be another fine mess they’d gotten into.​