Before there was the TV writer's room, there was the gag room. In the era of silent films, companies like Columbia, MGM, and Paramount were cranking out silent films so quickly — often shooting for less than two weeks — most were merely a collection of gags loosely based around a story. In order to make the production of these films go faster they filled a room with gag writers who would riff on someone else's joke, adding thoughts of their own, until they had a full routine. Frank Capra, who went on to become a famous director, spent many of his formative years as a gag writer in such a room for Mack Sennett. He later moved over to Columbia, where the producer Harry Cohn kept the writers locked up in a building so he could keep his eye on the gag men. The video of a Canadian man masturbating in a car with the sunroof open is already a good gag, but we needed Alfisted and his merry gang of gag men to really heighten the comedy.
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