‘Gilligan’s Island’: The Gilligan-Skipper Slapstick Exchange Was Modeled After 2 Comedy Icons

by Joe Rutland

Watching Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. interact as Gilligan and The Skipper on “Gilligan’s Island” is undeniably funny. However, funny enough, their humor mirrors another comedy duo.

Does the comedy of Laurel and Hardy make you laugh? Well, that’s who Gilligan and The Skipper happened to be modeled after for the CBS series. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy provided movie magic with their incredible timing and comedy.

The impact of those two actors also influenced people like Dick Van Dyke, who was a huge fan of Laurel. You can see glimpses of Laurel and Hardy also in the interactions between Jackie Gleason and Art Carney as Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, respectively, on “The Honeymooners.”

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Used Slapstick Humor to Help Show

Now, what could be one way that you could know the Gilligan-Skipper tandem was influenced by them? How many times have you seen Skipper take his hat off and whack Gilligan over the head? Well, Hardy would sometimes get flustered with Laurel and start-up some slapstick.

That’s the type of comedic timing and rhythm you can see on “Gilligan’s Island.” Denver and Hale blended their talents together so well and actually added an even deeper comedic touch to an already-funny situation comedy.

It went beyond what they said to one another. Gilligan would say something to rile up The Skipper, and you might even find one chasing the other out of their hut.

Denver, Hale Provide ‘Buddy Movie’-Like Comedy Timing

Laurel and Hardy provided a template for “buddy movies” before there was ever such a name invented. They worked well off one another and provided movie-goers some much-needed humor as America went through difficult times.

Between 1921 and 1951, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in 106 films and one-third of those were silent movies. In other words, you had to observe the way they acted toward one another to pick up what each scene meant.

This is what Denver and Hale worked to encapsulate in their roles on “Gilligan’s Island.” For the three seasons that it was on CBS and in future movies, the comedic timing stayed the same. It is funny, slapstick, and brings laughs and smiles to millions of viewers all over the world.

Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. are remembered for their work on the show. Their comedy also leaves an indelible mark on TV history.