It was a partnership modelled on Xanthias and Dionysus, but aren't they all.
Kant: It is an alien scene, but not strange, it is rather common.
Kant: Two alien males are at an alien bar smoking alien cigarettes and drinking alien alcohol.
Lampe: Alien to you maybe, but:
Kant: One of the aliens looks tired. He has many rings around his eyes. He is leaning against the alien bar for support. He has just returned from earth. It was an awful trip.
Lampe: Oh, yes, much like your trips to Thailand and Bangkok?
Kant: The other alien is slightly older, by a hundred earth years or more. He has never been to earth. He is happy about this fact. The two alien males are related, all living matter is related on this alien planet.
Lampe: Yawn. The lights have all been turned out and everybody has gone home. Wait that woman has grown a beard and her husband is now bald.
They could have reached the heights of Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello, they had that elusive formula, they had all the ingredients. Hollywood did call, they were on the precipice, they didn't even know it, we didn't know it, moribundity. There was the phone call. 3:32AM 13 June (it was a Friday). There were big promises; deals were discussed - Deals pertaining to lots of movies, money, and fame. However, it all went appallingly bad; it is here, in the badness, in the failure, down in the nadir, their shards mixed with cement, ash, dirt, vomit, excrement, that the whole thing, now looking back, reeked of inevitability.
Kant: They do not speak English, but for now, English will suffice.
She said it was rape, said Edward. (The fatigued alien).
What's rape, said Tom.
She said that when you grab a girl and try to stick your thing into her thing and she does not want your thing in her thing well then that is rape.
Lampe: Aha! More like it!
Kant: Yes, I suppose it is, said Tom.
I told her I had never heard of rape and that rape was indeed a bad thing.
Tom and Edward showed alien compunction.
I told her I was form-blind. She said she had never heard of form-blind.
The whole adventure was swathed in Schopenhauerian fatalism. It was as though the stage, the theater, the smoky boozy mens clubs, the burlesque clubs could not bear the weight. Hollywood was the way forward, the trajectory, but they could not work together to achieve what many, in the business, and not in the business, thought would send, the joke, inevitably, them to the zenith. They should have reached that zenith of Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello. They were one joke away.
Kant: I told her it was similar to color-blindness. She told me that when a boy wants to stick his thing into a girl's thing he must buy the girl a drink first.
Lampe: I need to meet this girl!
They were an incongruous pair. Kant with his religious background, he had lived a quiet, mundane bourgeois life, until he met Lampe, he had been a struggling actor performing in badly produced Shakespeare plays, he was a predictable actor. Lampe was an ex-soldier, he was pugnacious and rude, he was working class, self-educated, an ardent follower of Hegel and Marx, these influences came through the comedy. Kant was as straight and ridged as an ironing board, professional, dependable, predictable and Lampe was as rough as they come, smoking, drinking, fighting, whoring with the best of them. Kant didn't play the straight man he was the staid, serious, cantankerous, straight man. That Lampe was a convicted bigamist, speaks for itself. They met auditioning for a commercial. They didn't hit it off right away, but at least they never hit each other. Right from the off, each man knew his part. Kant could never have played Lampe and Lampe could never have played Kant. They were the antithesis, and this antithesis is the reason the comedy worked. It was a complex performance, as intricate as, say, Jeeves and Wooster, Kant played the stern boss and Lampe the cheeky servant, if The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a chamber of torture and horror then Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are Dante and Virgil, and the same for Kant and Lampe, they took their audience through a chamber of torture and horror, each joke was a Piranesian horror chamber and as intricate and labyrinthine.
Kant: You really would do it for water, I asked. She stopped laughing and told me that she was not talking about water. She said she was talking about the kind of drink that makes a girl do silly things.
Lampe: That's my kinda girl!
Kant: I told her, I had seen many things happen around a pool of water that were silly.
Lampe: I bet!
That Kant should turn to misanthropy, finally succumbing to hypochondria, paranoia, the knots in his head unravelling, is not surprising. He shunned not only Lampe, but also his family and friends, he was vexed and unable to vent, he hid behind his walls and doors. Lampe found solace in the bottle, gambling, fighting, and whoring; unable to work without Kant, he tried fatuously, futilely to recapture the fame, but in the end, it was the bottle.
Kant: Let me tell the thing.
Lampe: Go ahead.
Kant hid from the world until he went to the grave. Lampe died an alcoholic's sad death. No double act, no real double acts really last, some double acts last, but they are the safe ones, the boring ones, the predictable ones, the ones made out of concrete and wood, and not sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate.
Kant: Tom says, The last time I was ordered here the female grunted, lowered her back, relaxed, and allowed me to slip my thing into her thing.
Edward raised his alien drink. Tom did the same. They emptied their alien glasses.
She didn't believe me, so I showed her a picture. She laughed and said I had raped a hippopotamus.
Lampe: What an alien name!
A Lampe composition