How To Make A Genuine Silent Comedy Pie (For Throwing!)

Have you ever wanted to experience the supreme satisfaction of smooshing someone right in the kisser with a great big custard-y pie just like one of those old-time screen comedians?…Always, you say? Well, now you can, with the following handy recipe!

An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

Nowadays a lot of “prop” pies are made by simply filling a crust with whipped cream. Not so in the silent era! Back then actual fruit, flour and water was involved, although sadly they were still inedible. Since pie-throwing became a cliché in screen comedies so fast that critics were whining about it as early as 1915, you can imagine that the creation of all those baked weapons quickly became an art.

Chaplin behind the screen '16

As would the technique of the perfect face smoosh.

No one less than the comic master himself, Buster Keaton, gave detailed descriptions of just how they used to make pies suitable for throwing (he knew every detail although he rarely threw them in the silent days). Here’s his authentic “recipe” (refined and organized by yours truly):

PREP TIME: Depends mainly on how long it takes you to locate your intended target (in silent comedy, anywhere from 1 to 3 reels).

INGREDIENTS:
2 9-inch pie crusts
Flour
Water
Whipped cream
Blackberries (if target is a blonde) or lemon meringue (if target is a brunette)

METHOD:

  1. Prepare two pie crusts. Combine a small amount of flour and water to make a paste and apply to surface of one crust. Place second crust inside the first so the paste adheres them together. Bake at about 400° F until brittle.
  2. Remove pie plate, as it could cause injury during the throw.
  3. Mix flour and water to create a thick filling, enough to fill the pie to a depth of about 1 inch. Pour into pie crust.
  4. Add a top layer of blackberries* if your target is a blonde, or layer lemon meringue if your target is a brunette. Top generously with whipped cream.
  5. Warm up by practicing throws with a weighted board or a similar object.
  6. Eye the distance from you to your target, and decide upon the most suitable throwing style:
    1. The “Shot Put,” a straight throw from distances from 3 to 6 feet.
    2. The “Ancient Roman Discus,” done from a middle distance, with the pie thrown after spinning halfway around.
    3. The “Walking Thrust,” where the pie is pushed directly in the face with a slight twist.
    4. The “Catcher’s Throw to Second Base,” an over-the-shoulder throw for long distances.**
  7. Throw with deadly speed and accuracy.
  8. Enjoy the warm glow of victory at your victim’s expense.

Preferably while bringing them down a few pegs.

And of course, before you put this recipe and any plans into action, take Keaton’s final words of advice to heart: “Don’t try it in the house.”

*Strawberries or chocolate are also good for blonde targets.
**When throwing a pie over a long distance, make sure the pie has more weight in order to ensure said deadly accuracy.

Sources:

Charney, Maurice, ed.. Comedy: New Perspectives. New York: New York Literary Forum, 1978.
Keaton, Buster, with Samuels, Charles. My Wonderful World of Slapstick. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1960.
Sweeney, Kevin D., ed.. Buster Keaton: Interviews. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007.
http://www.oocities.org/~oldbrit/Keatonpies.html

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6 thoughts on “How To Make A Genuine Silent Comedy Pie (For Throwing!)

  1. Pingback: It’s Silent-ology’s 2nd Anniversary! | Silent-ology

  2. Pingback: Silent-ology Is Three Years Old Today! | Silent-ology

  3. Pingback: Classic Movie Cocktails: The Slapstick for Buster Keaton – Classic Movies and More

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