The pie in the face is a classic comedy device, so classic that you might think it’s of ancient origin. While it may have a precusor somewhere in the past, in reality it only dates back to 1911. It originated not with Max Sennett or Charlie Chaplin, but with William Hammerstein (son of Oscar Hammerstein). When Chaplin was with the Fred Karno troupe, he would play the part of a rowdy drunk in the audience, employing the physical comedy he would become famous for. During the act, he would knock over a boy, another actor in the troupe. Hammerstein suggested knocking the boy over with a pie. The audience loved it, and a cliché was born. Chaplin later worked for Max Sennett, who took the pie bit and made it a comedy fixture