Outside of Warners, few studios were more committed than Paramount to a “Broadway strategy” of featuring big-time vaudeville and theatrical stars in sound shorts. The studio’s initial in-house talking shorts were filmed at its facility in Astoria, whose proximity to Broadway made it an ideal location for filming presentation acts for the Paramount Acts series. A similar bid for metropolitan-style distinction was elsewhere evident on the Paramount slate in the output of the Christie Film Comedy, whose comedies Paramount had handled since 1928. Long associated with the more reputable “situation” style of screen comedy, Christie upped the ante for his first sound shorts, departing from the clown-oriented approach of his opening Paramount seasons (which had featured Billy Dooley, Jack Duffy, and others) to emphasize “short features adapted from stage-plays.” Christie’s bid for cultural distinction was further reflected in the series’ titling, which conspicuously – and pretentiously – avoided the word “Comedies” to promote the films as Christie Talking Plays.
In this, however, there was a foreshadowing of the broader fate of the comedy short at Paramount. The studio’s attitude to live-action comedy during the years of the Depression was an inconsistent one, as the studio’s economic difficulties seem to have discouraged long-term arrangements with independent producers. After one season of Christie Talking Plays, Paramount declined to renew its distribution deal with the Christie operation, opting instead to go it alone with its in-house Paramount Comedies, starring performers like Charlie Ruggles, erstwhile Keystoners like Ford Sterling and Al St. John, and the Jewish impersonators Smith and Dale. Two seasons later, a long-rumored deal with Mack Sennett finally came to pass, but again lasted only one season, after which Sennett’s company soon went bankrupt. In April 1935, Paramount became the first of the major studios to abandon two-reel production altogether.