The Gag Man

The Gag Man

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Clyde Bruckman and the Birth of Film Comedy

by Matthew Dessem

Though today he is barely remembered, Clyde Bruckman was a key figure in early film comedy, collaborating with icons like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, W.C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy, and the Three Stooges. Working while screenwriting was still in its infancy, Bruckman helped shape many influential shorts and films, developed the gags that made them legendary, and eventually became a director himself. But Bruckman’s own life was filled with tragedy and disappointment, from alcoholism to accusations of plagiarism, and over time his story has been relegated to little more than a footnote.

Matthew Dessem’s The Gag Man, an expansion of his study of Bruckman for The Dissolve,will be the first book-length biography of this fascinating but elusive figure. Drawing on archives, court documents, and of course the films themselves, Dessem brings Bruckman’s story to life and shines a light on an important corner of Hollywood history.

Coming August 2015

Matthew Dessem - PhotoMatthew Dessem’s writing has appeared in The Dissolve, Slate, GOOD Magazine and elsewhere. He can be found online at his blog, The Criterion Contraption. He lives and works in Los Angeles.