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Vriend Jaap haalt suiker

Slipping on a banana peel, throwing pies, and bumping a ladder into someone’s head. These are some classic examples of slapstick. In this episode of Short for kids children discover all there is to know about slapstick.


The name slapstick derives from the Italian Commedia dell’arte. Originally it was a paddle with two slats that made a smacking sound when you hit another character on stage, but it didn’t really hurt him or her.

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy are real stars of slapstick. Even before these famous comedians had audiences roaring with laughter in the 1920s, slapstick films were very popular in Europe. A prime example is this film from Eye’s collection made in 1911. In this slapstick classic, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, as it should. How much chaos can be caused by simply going out to get some sugar?

Watch Vriend Jaap haalt suiker (director unknown, FR 1911)

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Still from Vriend Jaap haalt suiker (director unknown, FR 1911)
Still from Vriend Jaap haalt suiker (director unknown, FR 1911)

Assignment: be a slapstick actor

Slapstick films are physical comedies, in which the comedian tries to do the simplest things – like hanging a picture on the wall, reading a book, or talking on the phone – in the most inefficient way possible, always leading to an incredible mess.

Look around your own house. Which things that you do every day could go hilariously wrong in your home? Act the way a slapstick actor would: by taking it to extremes.


Short for Kids is created by Taartrovers and Eye Filmmuseum's educational team.

Film credits

Vriend Jaap haalt suiker (director unknown, FR 1911)

Film theme

Comedy and acting