The Chimp Tent

Gene Sorkin grew up in Los Angeles, and was a LAUREL AND HARDY fan for as long as he could remember. He remembered his father gathering he and his brother together to watch films of the boys whenever they came on TV. Gene grew up, but never lost his love for our heroes, and even when he lived in New Zealand (for 16 years), he tried to find out where he could watch their films. However, the closest Tent was in Sydney, Australia, a 3-hour flight across the Tasman Sea, so his itch couldn’t be scratched. Upon relocation to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, his investigations noted that there were still no local Tents in the area. The closest Tent was in Dayton (“A-Haunting We Will Go” Tent), which Gene joined in late-2002. After almost 6 years as a member of the Dayton Tent Gene was persuaded, by several SONS he talked with at the Amsterdam international SONS convention, and Flip Lauer of the Cleveland Big Business Tent in particular, to start a Tent for Cincinnatians too long deprived of LAUREL AND HARDY. With much encouragement and support from SONS from all over the world, the first local group meeting took place on December 6, 2008, and was attended by 20 persons. Following this historic inaugural meeting, THE CHIMP TENT of Cincinnati, Ohio, was officially recognized on December 18, 2008 as Oasis number 279 of the Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society, the SONS OF THE DESERT.

How did the Cincinnati tent, “THE CHIMP” get its name? Why was this movie selected as the namesake film for this tent? Two good questions which deserve two equally if not better answers: 1) Gene liked this movie – a lot! Especially the lines spoken by Billy Gilbert to “Ethel” as she lay under the covers at the end of the movie. See the movie and you’ll see what he means; and, 2) he discovered that no other tent had this name! (Strange, but true. Considering that LAUREL AND HARDY made 106 films together, and there are 320 tents, you would expect lots of overlapping and doubling- or tripling-up of tent names).

“The Chimp Tent” holds meetings on a bi-monthly basis, with an extra outdoor BBQ swim party pot-luck film evening at the end of the summer. April meetings feature an all- silent film program, for which the Tent is lucky enough to have three members capable of playing live keyboard accompaniment to these and any silent films shown during the year. The August meetings spotlight a particular featured player in Laurel and Hardy films (e.g. James Finlayson, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall, Thelma Todd, Arthur Housman) and every other year the October and December programs have Halloween and Holiday themes, respectively. The Tent’s web site at www.thechimptent.com is the place to go to find out when and where the next meeting will take place, and what the film program will be – please check it out and remember: all “out of town boys” – and girls – who are members of other Tents always get in for free!

As to the movie “The Chimp” itself –
TheChimp32-300x260WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! Released May 21, 1932, “The Chimp” features Laurel and Hardy as bumbling bit performers working as two halves of an ersatz horse in a small struggling circus (whose ringmaster is Jimmy Finlayson). The accidents they engineer (for instance, to the ‘act’ of Destructo the Strong Man – played by Tiny Sandford) help drive the circus into ruin. Because the owner can’t pay wages owed, he decides to randomly divide the circus property up among the employees as payment. Stanley gets the flea circus, while Oliver gets an oversized, intelligent, tutu-wearing “chimpanzee” named Ethel. With no money and no job, they try to check into a boarding house, intending to sell Ethel the next day for rent money. (Synopsis courtesy of IMDB.com and Fandango.com)