Medical assessment of comedians poking each other in the eye

poke_aIn many old movies, slapstick comedians would poke other comedians in the eye. A Dutch medical team, writing in a Scottish medical journal, calculated the physical damage this would have done if the eye-poking had been real eye-poking, not just pretend, poking-fun poking:

Eye trauma in Laurel and Hardy movies – another nice mess,” Lara D.A. Zegers and Richard H.C. Zegers, Scottish Medical Journal, epub November 17, 2016. The authors are respectively at Gerrit Rietveld College in Utrecht, and Diakonessenhuis Utrecht/Zeist. They explain:

One of the characteristics in Laurel and Hardy films is a lot of physical violence. The present study examines the occurrence of eye trauma in Laurel and Hardy movies and discusses the impact they could have been had if the films were set in reality.

All 92 movies starring Laurel and Hardy as a pair in leading roles were watched together by the authors and were scored for any eye trauma. Eighty-eight eye traumas happened, of which 48% were directed at Hardy. The eye poke was the most frequently occurring eye trauma and the traumatic corneal abrasion was very likely the most frequently occurring injury. Among the most serious causes of eye trauma were the pin of a door handle, a stick, a champagne cork, a tree branch and tacks.

Conclusion: Without a doubt, if their films had been reality, especially Hardy but also Laurel and several other people, would have suffered from serious eye injuries caused by the 88 eye traumas.

Here are Laurel and Hardy performing in the eye-opening film called “Hog Wild”:

RTV Utrecht wrote up an appreciation of the medical team: “Utrechtse oogarts onderzoekt de dikke en de dunne“.