Otto Petersen: These Comedians Changed My Life


Editors Note:  The great Otto Petersen passed away today.   was an outstanding comedian, and on a personal note, he was becoming a regular contributor to the interrobang.  Earlier this year he reached out to us asking to write stories for us, and submitted two before he passed away.  The first, about his favorite movies,   was published on March 17, 2014, “Otto Petersen Picks 1974 as the Greatest Year in Film.”   The second, is this one.  Thanks Otto, we were honored to work with you, if only briefly.

My name is . I am a ventriloquist. I was born too late. I should have been here for Vaudeville. I like to think I would have been friends with W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers and my personal heroes Laurel & Hardy.

I have always loved the clowns. People who could get a laugh without saying a word. The golden age of comedy is what they called the 1930’s. The entire country was in The Great Depression, so they needed really great clowns to keep their spirits up so they wouldn’t throw themselves off a building. They had The 3 Stooges, The Marx Brothers. W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy.

Today we are a nation of fat, spoiled, ungrateful douches with short attention spans. We have too much. So Bill Maher and Ellen DeGeneres is good enough. They are today’s so called greats, in the past they would not cut the mustard.

Laurel & Hardy worked for the Hal Roach studio and were pretty much left alone so Stan Laurel, the genius of the team, could go wherever he needed comedy-wise. Stan began over in England in music halls, probably doing some sort of silent act. He came to America with The Fred Carnot troupe. Charles Chaplin was also in the same bunch.

Laurel & Hardy made silent films, although they are not mentioned along with Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. When ‘talking movies’ came along, Keaton and Lloyd faded into history, while Chaplin kept doing silent films for a number of years. But Laurel & Hardy were just getting started, so from 1929 till 1939 they churned out all these amazing comedy shorts and feature films.   The art of slapstick is often looked at as dumb– Laurel played an idiot, sort of a man-child– but he was one of the greatest comedy minds ever. Not only did he write for him and Ollie, he would give gags to “The Little Rascals” who also worked for Roach Studios.

Just watch 1932’s “The Music Box.” In it, the boys have to move a piano up a flight of stairs… that’s it. That’s the entire plot. But it is the funniest 20 minutes of comedy ever put on film. There is clever and there is funny. is really clever. Curly is funny. It’s almost like they are not doing the same thing, yet they are.

When I was a small boy I got ahold of a man’s fedora hat which I made wet, then shaped it into a derby then froze it. I went to my mom to show her ‘Look ma, I’m Laurel & Hardy!’. She screamed ‘Get that frozen thing off you head you idiot, you’ll wind up in the hospital!’. When I finally got a real derby I wore it every day for 10 years.

The 3 films to watch from that period to laugh hard are “Sons of the Desert” with Laurel & Hardy, “Duck Soup” with The Marx Brothers, and “It’s A Gift” with W.C. Fields. The golden age of comedy.   Or just wait for a new Ben Stiller film, or better yet throw yourself out the fucken window.

The short 3 reel comedy is about 22 minutes, the same as a sitcom. It’s the perfect burst of comedy. It’s right.

When I was a kid old comedians and monster movies is what fed me. I have a dummy, George, and it’s a comedy team. So in my own way I’m part of this tradition. I have never had a day job and have been working since I’m 14, and I’m working now. So my life was changed by seeing people like Laurel & Hardy on TV and saying ‘Wow, those guys actually lived once’.

He also wrote:

Heres a few early pictures of me & George with the derby I talked about.
I still have the derby at home. Its very beat up.

ottopetersenComedian Otto Petersen was one half of the comedy duo of .  You can learn more about Otto reading his twitter @OttoandGeorge and  his website   



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Comedian Otto Petersen is one half of the comedy duo of Otto and George. You can follow Otto on twitter @OttoandGeorge and on his website


  1. @iSmellBit

    April 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    So Sad.  Rest in peace.

  2. Docintoxicated

    April 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    You can see a lot of the W.C. Fields influence in his act, the snappy off the cuff insults that you need to think about for a second.

    He had a great way with words, he was eloquently vulgar.

  3. Bad Hat Harry

    April 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Until today I didn’t know that it was the comedy duo of Otto Petersen and George Dudley.
    It is sad to think that people will now come forward and say how brilliant he was when he never sounded like he believed that at all.

  4. JetsonsClone

    April 14, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Id not seen an image of him until today, have always just listened. . I’d always imagined the puppet more attractive, and otto’s face rounder.
    He was a GREAT tallent.

  5. shortbusdriver

    April 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    George was quoted as saying “Get in the coffin dummy”

  6. shortbusdriver

    April 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    With respect

  7. CigarsAndscotch1

    April 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    He was such a funny guy. I always loved his comedy, but after I learned about his love of the 3 Stooges and the Marx Brothers, I became an ever bigger mark for him. He was also one of the few people that understood the true genius of Shemp.

  8. Stoops

    April 14, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    He was a funny fuck.  RIP Otto.

  9. CigarsAndscotch1

    April 14, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    I can only hope that he had even the slightest idea of just how appreciated he was.

  10. Binary Daoist

    April 15, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Hah! “Thank you for flying spirit airlines; we’re heading into a cornfield, there is butter underneath your seat…”

  11. Cleofus

    April 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    “He kicked me right in the middle of my daily duties”

  12. DrSandman

    August 16, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Otto was a hilarious guy. Glad O&A introduced me to his comedy years ago. Thanks for posting his thoughts here on ibang.