What a Troup-er

We all recall that “brighter the picture the darker the negative thingy,” don’t we? It’s what Cindy absently muttered into her drink after Cliff confirmed that he’d once worked with “‘Butter’ Brickle” (and yes, I will continue to use quotation marks around that name for as long as I feel like it). Mason immediately predicted another Emmy for his wife, the documentarienne.  Maybe he thinks it’d look great alongside his Oscar for Starbuck Jones.

So we learn a little more about Brinkel’s backstory, namely, his beginnings as part of a vaudeville “troup” [sic]. It’s a real testament to Cindy’s ability to acquire rare footage, as it’s not clear how many “troups” back in those days were capturing their stage performances on film.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “What a Troup-er

  1. I thought it would be better when Batiuk stopped whining for awards, but this awful “I will get a phrase into the national lexicon!” stuff is worse. There should probably be a subsection of the Batiuktionary that collects this crap. “Endings have to be earned,” “You did what superheroes do–you saved me” and all the rest of the stuff that no greeting card company would deign to employ.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Broken Homes: The Butter Brickle Story…see how it works on two levels? With the house falling on him? Get it? Huh?

    So Butters fled his abusive Dust Bowl rhubarb farm and hopped on a tramp steamer to Constantinople, where he quickly gained fame on the fledgling silent vaudeville circuit before suffering a near-fatal paper mache injury while doing the Charleston on an ice wagon in a speakeasy and (zzzzzzz). He’s really laying it on thick here, which means it’s a near certainty that Bugger won’t actually commit any crime or be guilty of anything, a fact Cindy or (sigh) Jessica will “discover” shortly (or not so shortly). FW is nothing if not gutless and this backstory only exists to cast Bucky as a sympathetic figure.

    Coming tomorrow: a gore-soaked Butters stumbles out of an illegal moonshine distillery clutching a smoking Tommy gun screaming “I did it! I killed the aspiring actress!” as a phalanx of G-men and several flappers look on. Jessica observes that the thingy Cindy said was like, so true and everything.

  3. billytheskink

    Oh yes, vaudeville was just full of 12-year-old greasers in cuffed blue jeans and Chuck Taylors. The ol’ “Pickpocketing Bear Bryant” routine was a national phenomenon for a solid year-and-a-half…

    • Jimmy

      When you have a character in Cliff Anger, who is anywhere between 70 and 243, you are allowed to place Vaudeville’s height somewhere in the 1950s.

      • Epicus Doomus

        In BatYak’s mind it’s all a big blur of old silent movie serials, grand old downtown theaters and wide-eyed youngsters with decoder rings buying comic books at the ol’ malt shop in a glorious nostalgic sepia-toned haze. In this magical fantasy world an actor can go to prison in the 1950s, take a sixty year hiatus then come back without missing a beat. Earlier in Act III he was all nostalgic over the 1970s, but now it’s stuff from thirty years before he was even born.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    Well yes, the more of a certain quality something has, the less of it its literal opposite would have. That isn’t remotely insightful or witty, at all.

  5. Paul Jones

    Does Batiuk realize that he’d armed his critics with a comment about how the strip as a whole has a negative that’s glittering white? I don’t think so.

  6. Paul Jones

    Neither is the person making the facile observation.

  7. Ray

    Panel 1…Masone peering intently into his drink, much the way I think everyone did at Jonestown before they imbibed.
    Someway, somehow I hope a small part of him wishes once that drink goes down the hatch he’ll have the same sweet release from his prison.
    But I fear he may be too far gone.

    • Ray

      Well, I’m a dumbass. That comment was meant for yesterday’s strip. Sorry folks.

    • Count of Tower Grove

      If Todd continues with Bucket O’Brick’s youth, what will his pseudonym be for “Peck’s Bad Boy?”

  8. Gerard Plourde

    I can’t help wondering why anyone would think this would be worth the time and expense that a documentary film entails.

    From what we’ve been told, Brinkel was a successful comic actor of either the Silent Era or the 40’s depending on whatever popped into TomBa’s head when he’s writing that day’s strip. Brinkel was convicted of a scandalous murder and at some point worked with the apparently immortal Cliff Anger.

    Nothing here screams “compelling story” or even “I’ll watch this because I have time to kill and there’s nothing else on.”

    • Maxine of Arc

      Cindy will bust that murder conviction wide open and prove him innocent… somehow…. no doubt with explosive exculpating evidence Cliff Anger has been hiding in a shoebox for a hundred years? At least it’s more of a documentary than “Cliff Anger exists.”

      • timbuys

        Cliff Anger Exists – a haunting film consisting of a continuous loop depicting Cliff, seated in a decrepit armchair, motionless in his tiny walkup studio apartment staring off into the middle distance. Occasionally, he sighs or scratches his noise. Every now and then, he farts.

  9. Gerard Plourde

    I’ll just add that although Chuck Taylor All Stars date back to the 1920’s, the classic version with the black canvas upper and white outer wraps and white laces weren’t marketed until 1949.

  10. Professor Fate

    Sigh. …the word Bathos keeps coming to mind. And it’s well known, almost to the point of being a cliché, that a lot of comedian’s early years were very bad. It is said that when Charlie Chaplin was asked what was the most important thing for a comedian to have he replied ‘an unhappy childhood’.
    The Author seems to be combining Chaplin’s and WC Fields childhoods and early years to make up Butter’s story. Charlie Chaplin’s mother was committed to mental institution when Charlie was 14 and his father who was mostly absent from his life drank himself to death at the age of 38 when Charlie was still a child. WC Fields’ father was physically abusive and Fields ran away many times as a child although his childhood was not quite as awful as he liked to make out. Fields would never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So this supposedly profound insight from the author, is as so often with him, a banal, unoriginal commonplace.
    And you know Tom, specifics would help this story – like what mental illness did the mother have – depression, schizophrenia, what? What happened to the father? And when exactly was this? Vaudeville was popular in the early 20th century – Fields and the Marx Brothers both became stars of the Vaudeville stage and later Broadway– Chaplin as a child and young man worked in the English music halls around the same time and then came over to America and started making movies. So when was Butter in Vaudeville? 1920? 1901?
    And yes Tom you’re not drawing the final strip anymore but (as other’s have noted) dear lord the people on stage are out of the 1950’s – again creating confusion about just when this is happening – Really the artist do a little damn research – at the very least have him watch some Chaplin films or something. And the gag shown in the strip makes no sense one – picking someone’s pocket is not inherently ‘funny’ and the only folks who would see what’s shown in the second panel would be the stagehands And needless to say a stage really isn’t a good setting for a chase scene anyway not enough room really, especially this tiny thing.
    It looks like all the author did was spend a half hour on the internet and then wrote whatever he remembered three months later.
    Yes I do take comedy seriously – someone has to I guess. The Author surely does not.

    • Maxine of Arc

      Roscoe Arbuckle’s father named him after a politician he hated because he didn’t think Roscoe was his, and refused to support him after his mother died when Roscoe was 12. As far as I know, Harold Lloyd had an okay childhood though, and though Buster Keaton’s parents flung him all over the stage in their vaudeville act I think he was mostly all right, albeit subject to the many peculiarities of a childhood spent traveling and performing. Is it weird that I’m actually happy about this dumb arc because it lets me spill my useless knowledge about early Hollywood onto a small blog for people who hate Funky Winkerbean? It’s not an intersection of interests I ever anticipated.