While we were putting together the recent Roger Ebert episode, we had a chance to go back and watch some old episodes of the classic Siskel & Ebert and we were reminded just how entertaining the duo’s cantankerous verbal sparring was. The double act has been a Hollywood standard since the days of vaudeville–with legendary duos like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Fred and Ginger. Here are some of our favorite modern-day big (and small) screen duos.
Siskel and Ebert bicker over Full Metal Jacket
“I think they felt about each other the way they felt about the movies: Thrilled and delighted when the medium lived up to its promise; sad and disappointed when it fell short. But they were never willing to give up on either relationship. They loved the movies—and each other—too much for that.”
– Stuart Cleland, associate producer, Siskel & Ebert/Ebert & Roeper (1987–2003)
For Siskel and Ebert, the dynamics of their love hate relationship was as much a part of the show as their trademark thumbs up/thumbs down reviews and kept them on the air for over twenty years, until Siskel’s death in 1999.
1. Cheech and Chong
Everybody’s favorite stoners – Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong – have been going strong since the 1970’s. The two meet in Vancouver in the 1960’s (Cheech was dodging the draft in Canada) and started performing stand up shows and releasing comedy albums. Their first movie, Up in Smoke, was released in 1978. They made six more movies together before going their separate ways in the mid-1980’s. Fast forward to present day and the duo are back on the road, having resurrected their comedy act, with rumors of another movie in the pipeline.
2. Fry and Laurie
These two are the first of a host of British duos on our list. Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie – better known on American shores as Dr. House from the long-running medical drama House – met at Cambridge University in 1980. They were introduced by mutual friend and future-Oscar winner Emma Thompson. From their college improv troupe they graduated to their first sketch show, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and then the TV series Jeeves and Wooster. They’ve since gone on to be successful in their respective solo careers, and still remain close friends.
3. French and Saunders
Another Brit duo – Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (who you may recognize as Edina from Absolutely Fabulous) have been among the top women in comedy going on two decades. The two worked their way up through London’s underground comedy scene before landing their own sketch comedy show, French and Saunders, in 1987. Their pop culture parodies were insanely popular and the show ran until 2007, when the two retired the act.
Fun fact: Dawn French was the first person to use the word “blowjob” on British television.
4. Beavis and Butthead
What to even say about these two? The always moronic, occasionally offensive brainchild of creator Matt Judge, these two ruled the MTV airwaves from 1993 – 1997 and even got their own feature-length film, Beavis and Butt-head Do America. In 1997, as the show was coming to a close, writer Dan Tobin wrote that the show transformed “stupidity into a crusade, forcing us to acknowledge how little it really takes to make us laugh.”
5. Jay and Silent Bob
Here’s a duo that exists on-screen – as Jay and Silent Bob – and in real-life as well – in the form of BFFs Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. Director Smith specifically wrote the Jay character in his first movie, Clerks, for Mewes because he said he “just wanted to see if anybody outside our group of friends finds him as funny as I do.” Mewes and Smith have played Jay and Silent Bob in six movies so far, and are set to play the duo again in 2016 in Mallrats II. As Jason and Kevin, the two are involved in a radio show and podcast, as well as a TV series.
6. Pegg and Frost
Back to the Brits! These former flatmates first worked together when Pegg wrote in a part for Frost on his TV series, Spaced. They then jumped to the big-screen with the cult films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. They also played buddies in the 2011 film Paul.
7. The Mighty Boosh
Ok, technically The Boosh is an entire troupe of characters, but at its heart is the relationship between Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett. The Mighty Boosh evolved out of Noel and Julian’s early stage routines in the comedy clubs of London where their characters, Howard Moon and Vince Noir, made their first appearances. The insane and insanely inventive TV series The Mighty Boosh, which followed the adventures of Howard and Vince in their fictional universe, aired on the BBC from 2004-2007. In 2008 and 2009, they took the show on the road with the popular Boosh Live: Future Sailors Tour.