The Silent Comedy Watch Party is a monthly (as of March 2022) live-streamed silent film show with live piano accompaniment. Originally launched in March 2020 as a weekly event by film historian Steve Massa and silent film accompanist Ben Model. The shows streams live on Sunday afternoons at 3pm EDT on YouTube, free of charge.
Each episode presents three slapstick comedy shorts from the silent film era, accompanied live on piano by Ben Model during the stream. The films are around 10-20 minutes apiece, and each is given a brief introduction with points of interest related to the performers and the copy of the film itself.
The show is streamed live from Ben Model’s living room, with Steve Massa piped in digitally from his apartment for his introduction. The films are primarily culled from DVDs released by Model’s Undercrank Productions label, many of which are sourced from rare archival prints preserved by the Library of Congress or the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive; selected shorts are presented courtesy of Kino Lorber, Lobster Films, The Blackhawk Films Collection, Milestone Films, and the EYE Filmmuseum.
The title and logo graphic design for the show is by Marlene Weisman.
Up next: Episode #81 – June 12, 2022
We’ve got three great shows lined up for the summer on June 12, July 17 and August 7! For information and links to watch the livestream, click here for the Episode #80, May 1 show page.
Make a donation:
The Silent Comedy Watch Party is presented online on YouTube for free.
Fans who have watched the shows have written and asked about making a contribution to support the show, and we are grateful for any support you may be able to make.
A one-time donation can be made securely online on Square or on PayPal, and a recurring contribution can be made on Patreon.
Press coverage for The Silent Comedy Watch Party:
The Garden of Silence site posted the interview The Silent Comedy Watch Party – Intervista a Steve Massa e Ben Model on n Oct 31. (For the English language text, scroll down.)
The Savvy Screener site posted the article “Q&A: Silents Streaming” on Oct 16, 2020.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune published “Silent film series pays tribute to Black movie pioneer and New Orleans native Ernie Morrison” by Michael Tisserand online on Oct 15, 2020 and in print in their Sunday edition on Oct 18.
The July 2020 issue of Classic Images magazine published the article “People Just Need To Laugh” about the Silent Comedy Watch Party.
San Diego public radio affiliate KPBS posted the article “Silent Comedy Watch Party Offers Live-Streaming Comic Relief”, and its Cinema Junkie podcast’s episode 193 also covers the Silent Comedy Watch Party.
ALL-ARTS, the web/cable arts and culture hub created by WNET, New York’s PBS affiliate, posted the article: “How to Use Silent Films to Lift Spirits and Find Solace”
Domitor, the International Society for the Study of Early Cinema, posted the article “Your Quarantine Blues Antidote”
Atlas Obscura wrote about the show in their recommendation round-up “Silent Films, Flower Festivals, and Cooking Classes to Enjoy at Home”
Ink19, “the Glass Bottom Boat of the Cultural Press” posted this article about the Silent Comedy Watch Party
The Nitrateville Radio podcast had Ben Model on its episode 53 to talk about the Silent Comedy Watch Party.
The Lost Laugh website published Lockdown Laughter: an Interview with The Silent Comedy Watch Party’s Ben Model
The Oregon University faculty round-up of pandemic-era diversions includes a recommendation of The Silent Comedy Watch Party.
The New York Public Library’s blog posted the article Screen Saver: Educational Films at Home which recommends the Silent Comedy Watch Party among streaming sources for films to watch with your kids.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.