Ms Wang: Good Morning, class. Before we begin, I’d like to recap what our famous people project is all about. I’ve asked each of you to prepare a short talk about a performer. Each Thursday morning for the next thirteen weeks, two of you will present your talks to the class.
But to make things interesting, I wanted you to choose a person no one else was likely to have heard of. The first talk is this morning, and I’ve picked a name out of a hat. Jack, you’re the lucky one! Take it away!
Jack: Good morning. Now, most of you in this classroom will know that I am a massive fan of the great Jackie Chan. I have seen all his movies, I read everything I can about him and I talk about him at great length to anyone who will listen. Jackie Chan is my hero and I can't get enough of him.
The other day, I was reading an online interview with him from a few years back,and the interviewer asked Jackie who had been his greatest influence. I expected him to come up with the name of some Chinese star or man of action from the past, but he didn't.
Chan said that one of the greatest influences on his screen personality was Buster Keaton. Buster who? Why had I never heard of this person who had so strongly influenced my hero? I had to find out. I was intrigued.
Here is a photo of Buster Keaton. Just look at that face. Don't you think it's a great face? Chan certainly does. It is the face of one of the cinema's greatest comedians. But I bet most of you, like me, hadn’t heard of him until now.
Buster Keaton was famous in the nineteen-twenties when movies were silent. Comic film actors at that time could not use words to make audiences laugh they had to use actions, and make people laugh at what they did, not at what they said. Buster Keaton was one of the cleverest and most inventive physical comedians that cinema had ever seen.
He was known as 'The Great Stone Face' because no matter what funny things happened to him on screen, his facial expression never changed. He always had this surprised, sad look on his face. A house might fall on him, he might get pushed off the edge of a cliff, someone might pour paint all over him - his face remained the same. And audiences found this hilarious.
Buster Keaton was born in 1895 and died in 1966. He made his great silent movies in the 1920s, but when talkies, or films with sound, arrived in 1927, his style of comedy was suddenly old-fashioned. He did make a few sound movies, but they were not a success. Keaton's comedy was all about movement and that wonderful stone face. He didn't need sound to make people laugh.
I hope you have enjoyed meeting the one and only, the great Buster Keaton. Watch some of his film clips on YouTube. You will see immediately how this great comedian influenced my hero Jackie Chan. And you will laugh your socks off, believe me. Thank you.