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How to start a ‘Tent’ in the Sons of the Desert

The Sons of the Desert is an international society aiming to celebrate and preserve the memory of Laurel and Hardy. We take our title from the 1933 film of the same name. Stan Laurel was uncomfortable with the idea of a ‘fan club’, his discomfort came from the connotations with ‘fanatics’ but he agreed to an appreciation society with the aim of satirising other social organisations. Each group is called a tent, and the leaders Grand Sheiks, as seen in the film.

Setting up your own group is easy. Choose the title of any Laurel and Hardy film as the name of your group, find a place to meet (often pubs and social clubs will allow a group the use of a room for free) and that’s it! You can decide what you want to do there, often film are shown, there are quizzes and raffles. Some places do snacks, most places do beer!

If you’d like more info on what happens at other meetings, then a good place to start is the Bowler Dessert, if you want an official Tent Charter and Oasis Number (notice the theme!) you can contact Del Kempster and subscribe to the Intra-Tent Journal though neither of these are compulsory.

The constitution was agreed upon by Stan, and you can see his touch in the wording:-

Article I

The Sons of the Desert is an organization with scholarly overtones and heavily social undertones devoted to the loving study of the persons and films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Article II

The founding members are Orson Bean, Al Kilgore, John McCabe, Chuck McCann, and John Municino.

Article III

The Sons of the Desert shall have the following officers and board members who will be elected at an annual meeting:

  • Grand Sheik
  • Vice-Sheik (Sheik in charge of vice)
  • Sub-Vice-Vizier (Sheik-Treasurer, and in charge of sub-vice)
  • Grand Vizier (Corresponding Secretary)
  • Board Members-at-Large (This number should not exceed 812)

Article IV

All officers and Board Members-at-Large shall sit at an exalted place at the annual banquet table.

Article V

The officers and Board Members-at-Large shall have absolutely no authority whatever.

Article VI

Despite his absolute lack of authority, the Grand Sheik or his deputy shall act as chairman at all meetings, and will follow the standard parliamentary procedure in conducting same. At the meetings, it is hoped that the innate dignity, sensitivity, and good taste of the members assembled will permit activities to be conducted with a lively sense of deportment and good order.

Article VII

Article VI is ridiculous.

Article VIII

The Annual Meeting shall be conducted in the following sequence:

  1. Cocktails.
  2. Business meeting and cocktails.
  3. Dinner (with cocktails).
  4. After-dinner speeches and cocktails.
  5. Cocktails.
  6. Coffee and Cocktails.
  7. Showing of Laurel and Hardy film.
  8. After-film critique and cocktails.
  9. After-after-film critique and cocktails.
  10. Stan has suggested this period. In his words: “All members are requested to park their camels and hire a taxi; then return for ‘One for the desert’!”

Article IX

Section “d” above shall consist in part of the following toasts:

  • “To Stan”
  • “To Babe”
  • “To Fin”
  • “To Mae Busch and Charley Hall – who are eternally ever-popular.”

Article X

Section “h” above shall include the reading of scholarly papers on Laurel and Hardy. Any member going over an 8 1/2 minute time limit will have his cocktails limited to fourteen.

Article XI

Hopefully, and seriously, The Sons of the Desert, in the strong desire to perpetuate the spirit and genius of Laurel and Hardy, will conduct activities ultimately and always devoted to the preservation of their films and the encouragement of their showing everywhere.

Article XII

There shall be member societies in other cities called “Tents,” each of which shall derive its name from one of the films.

Article XIII

Stan has suggested that members might wear a fez or blazer patch with an appropriate motto. He says: “I hope that the motto can be blue and gray, showing two derbies with these words superimposed: ‘Two minds without a single thought’.” These words have duly been set into the delightful escutcheon created for The Sons of the Desert by Al Kilgore. They have been rendered into Latin in the spirit of Stan’s dictum that our organization should have, to use his words, “a half-assed dignity” about it. We shall strive to maintain precisely that kind of dignity at all costs-at all times.

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12 Responses to How to start a ‘Tent’ in the Sons of the Desert

  1. Hi, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  2. Hello, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  3. Brian Harris says:

    Will start wheels turning and hopefully Wales’ first tent will be up and running in Swansea sooner rather than later

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  8. Fran Williams says:

    I was part of the little Rascals, I was quite tall , so always in the background except for one big part in blackface. I have a collection of stills. My dad was in a lot of films with L and H. I would be happy if someone wants to make copies of them. I just discovered your organization Obviously I am quite old in age but not spiit. Would like to know aabout what you are all about.

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