The Art of Pie Throwing

Posted by on

The act of pie throwing as a form of comedy has been a crowd favorite for many years. As a matter of fact, in film, pie throwing dates back to the early 1900’s, and even earlier on stage. Throughout history, many of the comedy greats like, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Stan Wolnic and of course the Three Stooges have had their hand in the game of pie throwing. A wonderfully simple form of humor, yet greatly underused nowadays. What makes this bit of slapstick so funny to audiences abroad? Is it the timing, the element of surprise or just the sheer buffoonery of it all? Let’s explore these questions and the other elements of a successful pie-throwing gag.

Stan C. Wolnic
Vaudeville Comic and Pie Throwing Pioneer

Stan is believed to be the first known vaudeville comedian to use shaving lather as a filling for the throwing pie.
He also developed a superior way in which to throw a pie accurately. Stan would throw the pie shot put style, with a spin of the wrist while releasing the pie to insure a straighter flight pattern.




Before anyone decides to add this to their next kids show, there are a few ground rules to observe.

1. Never use a real pie. Fruit and cream pies could of course stain clothing and other surface areas, leaving things very sticky; not to mention just a waste of a good pie.

2. Shaving cream is the safe alternative to a real pie and it cleans up easily. Do not use a menthol shaving cream, which can really sting the eyes, use just plain, nothing added, cheap shaving cream.

3. Using a crust is a great convincer that you smashed a real pie in your victims face. The store bought ready-made crusts are perfect for this and they already have a pie tin. To prepare your store bought crust, let it sit unwrapped to get a bit dry and crumbly or over baking it slightly can help achieve this result as well.



Tippy (pie-er) and Rustopher (pie-e)
 

4. Preparing your pie. Now that the crust is crumbly, loosen it from the tin so it will stick to the victims face and not the tin when it is deposited. Now you add the shaving cream into the crust, nice and tall so there is plenty of mess.

5. Ready for action. Display your workmanship proudly to the audience and search out your victim (your victim should always be in on the gag). Once the recipient has been established the real challenge is on. Don’t just jam the pie in their face, but it should appear to be a surprise or better, a trip and fall delivery. The comedy lies in the fact our victim did not anticipate a pie in the face. Now as the pie tin falls, chunks of real piecrust stick to the cream, leaving the effect of a real pie was just shoved into the victims face.


6. Throwing a pie is not always the easiest and may not give the desired effect. However, with practice, one can launch a pie a few feet accurately giving the audience the crème de le crème of the pie throwing art.

7. Be careful with the aluminum pie tins for they can have a sharp edge and possibly hurt your pie recipient. This is why removing the pie and crust from the tin before hand will prevent such an injury. Also, you will definitely have more of a crushed pie effect.
8. Receiving a pie in the face perhaps is more of a talent than throwing one. As the victim you want to act surprised and react with an exaggerated head movement, letting the audience feel the pie being delivered. Follow this up with a comic expression, even wiping the cream from your face and flicking at the pie thrower.  The audience will eat this up.

9. An option to the real piecrust is to use a foam pie crust, this is safe for the on receiving the pie and of course, reusable. You can even crumble real graham crackers on the foam - it'll stick to the 
shaving cream when you pull the foam crust away for a more believable effect.

So now that you have been educated on the art of pie making and throwing, get out there and have some fun!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts:

*Mack Sennet is recorded as the first director to use a pie fight in film circa 1914.
*The largest and possibly most expensive pie fight to be in a film was in The Great Race.


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →


Leave a comment