What's so Funny, Anyway: Is it Time to Comedies Seriously?

Some other comedies, like Young Frankenstein, the musical of The Producers, or Singin' in the Rain, are attached to genres and social norms that are somewhat longer lasting - they tend to retain relevance longer, and (I expect, I haven't double checked) are often considered "better movies" in the longer run.
My wife had never seen Young Frankenstein, so I showed her the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. This seemed to be enough for her to appreciate the movie. Also I think YF benefits greatly from Wilder's screen presence. He really can make anything funny. Even the most ridiculous, stupid joke, is funny just because of his personality. All Wilder had to do to make my wife laugh was yell.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I think the same could be said for Jim Carey. He became famous for his screwball antics in movies like Ace Ventura and the Mask, but I would argue his best work is in movies like the Truman Show and the Majestic.

I did enjoy him in these kinds of films (particularly Man on the Moon) but his talent is definitely comedy and his rubber face. He is one of those once in a generation physical performers. Even from his days on Living Color you could just tell he had a gift. I remember being quite happy when it went back to doing more straight forward comedies.
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I am not averse to it. There are definitely comics who do this that I don't care for, so it is an odd line. But I think so much of what makes peopel naturally laugh is a person saying or doing something they are socially not supposed to do. My mom is a pretty strict person when it comes to politeness and social rules but my cousin could always make her laugh by blatantly crossing those lines and saying things she found 'awful'. Also this is more complicated a topic than people make it out to be. I have some disability issues and have been in groups for this on various platforms. Plenty of people have my problems, don't want it made fun of. But I feel the opposite. I find it cathartic to laugh about it and for people to joke at my expense (again there is a line and intent does matter). Sometimes this kind of humor can also bridge divides between people because it is a great leveler and a great way to break the tension. It just depends on how it is done
Make no mistake about it, when I say punching down, I mean they are attacking people for being inferior. Not to be confused with making any kind of jokes.
 

The Soloist

Adventurer
I generally don't like 'comedies' because they feel forced unless it's Tropic Thunder or Guardians of the Galaxy. :D

Umbran's post nailed it. I prefer the last incarnation of comedy.
 

MGibster

Legend
Although I still occasionally enjoy thinking about Aristotle's view of humor. Ol' 'Stotle (that's what his friends called him, right?) thought most comedy was about making fun of the misfortune, stupidity, and general ugliness of other people. The, um, "inferiority" theory of humor.
Sadly, punching down never seems to go away.
I think Aristotle was onto something there and I don't think it's punching down. If you make fun of the misfortune of a king you're not punching down, right? In Caddy Shack, Ted Knight was the butt of many jokes because of his ugliness, he was a jerk, and that's not punching down. The Three Stooges were the butt of the joke based on their supidity and I'm not sure they were punching down either.
 

I think Aristotle was onto something there and I don't think it's punching down. If you make fun of the misfortune of a king you're not punching down, right? In Caddy Shack, Ted Knight was the butt of many jokes because of his ugliness, he was a jerk, and that's not punching down. The Three Stooges were the butt of the joke based on their supidity and I'm not sure they were punching down either.
I think it gets at the whole comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.
 

I think Aristotle was onto something there and I don't think it's punching down. If you make fun of the misfortune of a king you're not punching down, right? In Caddy Shack, Ted Knight was the butt of many jokes because of his ugliness, he was a jerk, and that's not punching down. The Three Stooges were the butt of the joke based on their supidity and I'm not sure they were punching down either.

The thing is the mocking the king for his shortcomings is just as fun as mocking me for my shortcomings. I think it can be a mistake to view it as a question of whether one is punching up or down. The base joke still needs to be funny in both cases. It is often just more gratifying to see someone in a position of power or someone who is a jerk and deserves it be stripped down. But insult comedy is based on just insulting people for whatever characteristics present the most opportunity for mockery, regardless of their standing in the room or other characteristics.
 


MGibster

Legend
I think it gets at the whole comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall in an open sewer and die." -- Mel Brooks (allegedly)

The thing is the mocking the king for his shortcomings is just as fun as mocking me for my shortcomings. I think it can be a mistake to view it as a question of whether one is punching up or down.
I'm not sure it's always wrong to punch down as I don't think there's many people you shouldn't be free to poke fun at.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top