Hat Trick

Back in 1993/4 when Mike and I were first making The Spurting Man we were working on a sequence where Spurty is crowned. The sequence is (and here I quote from a rare item an – Avanti script)

BP hat off, wipe face with hat

throw onto hat stand (could be a wait if it misses, ignore any kid I bring out)

Rubber hat comedy business

Emil suggested the hat gag (I guess he had seen the Buster Keaton clip). Our logic was ‘there is a hat stand- you have a hat in your hand – you don’t care about the hat – its the masters hat  – the master isn’t looking – so just chuck it without looking at the stand and amazingly it goes on and stays on’. This tiny moment became an obsession, I practised a couple of hours a day for months / years, I changed the material of the hat, I wet the hat to make it heavier, I practised some more, wind makes a difference of course, the distance is not always predictable, its a live show after all, but eventually I got to the 80% success area. I also developed a bit with a child who I would call on to retrieve it if I missed the throw, I would have another go sometimes get the kid back again after each fail it raises the stakes, the audience thinks its all part of the routine – but its not! In this video at 4.16 you can see the ‘bit’ in question. Its filmed outside the National Theatre and you can see in the background some very bemused theatregoers exiting from some Pinter play. The Spurting Man . When it works its like poetry, a perfect moment, when it fails, well, best not to dwell on that. Here are a few other Keaton hat moments from an essay by Jonathan Lyons

Keatons Hat Comedy