Film & TV

Genre in Review: Comedy

Satirical puppets... Team America: World Police (2004)

From one of the broadest genres out there; we delve into what it is that makes a good comedy.

Satirical puppets... Team America: World Police (2004)
Satirical puppets… Team America: World Police (2004)

As an aspiring journalist, we’re taught at times to try and write from an impartial and unprejudiced standpoint. But not here, bias is necessary. I love comedies. To me, there is no other genre that is as complete, broad or as meticulously well-crafted as a comedy.

From the classic underdog tales to the nonsensical buddy cop movies, comedies bring joy in an assortment of situations. But they don’t stop there, oh no! This magnificent genre stretches out to the peripheries of humanity, encompassing all things from the downright satirical – Team America or The Interview – to the outlandish and ridiculous – Airplane!, Austin Powers or Jackass . This genre knows no limits.

Comedy is not just a film genre; it’s a way of life. Everyone needs that fill of laughter to navigate them through the dreary and depressing world in which we live. Throughout cinematic history, humour has remained a constant ‘anchor of cinema’ if you will; the safe zone that has grown organically into a global phenomenon infecting almost every other genre known to film with a case of the giggles.

Love Actually (2003)
A world where Hugh Grant is Prime Minister; only in Love Actually (2003)

 

Now, while this may not be the food section of Quench, I have a fantastic new diet for you all that is guaranteed to work; The Comedy Diet. Or the Comi-diet… wait, no, we can’t use that…

With this genre being too big to cover in one article, I’ll just highlight the essentials. The Comedy Diet has six staple “food groups”: romantic comedies, animated comedies, observational comedies, slapstick comedies, dark comedies and team-up comedies. Each separate food group has a number of sub-categories and most of these food groups overlap in more ways than one. There are plenty of other categories, and so much more nut to avoid making this another convoluted diet that you’ll struggle to sustain, I’ll just keep it basic.

Let’s start with the most obvious and the biggest one, romantic comedies. Women love them and men complain about having to watch them… yet, they secretly love them too. You’ve Got Mail, Pitch Perfect, Love Actually or Just Go With it; just a handful of the films that fall within this broad category. This food group ranges from the classic “guy meets girl and its love at first site” plot, to the “girl meets guy and, at first, they hate each other but then, they fall in love”. There is however one constant throughout all of this, something that’s a must in order to sustain this diet; and that is love.

The Lego Movie Still (2014)
Everything is indeed awesome… The LEGO Movie (2014)

 

When you decide to watch a rom-com, you know what will happen by the time the credits roll, which is great, because that’s why you watch it; in order to witness the love unfold, and to hope (with unrealistic expectations) that one day, you’ll have your very own Rick Grimes holding up a board saying “to me, you are perfect”, while standing on your doorstep. Yes, if you didn’t know, Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays the ‘adorable’ Mark in Love Actually also plays the murdering psychopath Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead… try watching that film now…

As it is such a broad category, you must try to consume it in moderation. What I’m trying to say is, try not to watch too many rom-coms, as they are guaranteed to paint an unrealistic image of what a guy or girl should be…don’t blame me, blame the movie companies for casting unbelievably attractive leads. Like all diets, restraint is needed for this one!

An essential in this diet are the animated comedies, or the nostalgic food group. This category takes everything you loved as a child – cartoons, fairy-tales and laughter – and moulds it into a feature length film for you to enjoy as an adult. From “Let it go” (Frozen) to “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie) you just can’t deny the love that everyone has for animated films.

The Interview still
The most controversial release of 2014; action comedy The Interview (2014)

 

Whether it’s Shrek or Madagascar, these films are packed full of jokes from start to finish that are not only aimed at children, but adults too. You’ll always find a tongue-in-cheek joke within an animated film that’ll go right over the heads of the youngsters, making it even funnier. A healthy heaping of this is necessary to help sustain the Comedy Diet; just don’t do a Homer Simpson and confuse it for donuts.

Observational or satirical comedy is a great group to incorporate within this diet, taking the everyday situation and highlighting its hilarity. Satirical films are sometimes outrageously funny as they emphasise our imperfections as a society and illuminate how we perceive things, like Borat, Team America or Mike Bassett: England Manager; all they do is sprinkle a heavy dose of humour to conceal our conceptions. Other times, they help to highlight a somewhat contemporary issue and put a comical spin on it. Well, that’s at least the case for MASH, The Interview, or The Truman Show; the latter seeming more topical today, given the wide appeal for the abundance of reality shows.

Next up, slapstick comedy! Everyone loves slapstick comedies. From National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Home Alone, to The Naked Gun or Rat Race, there’s nothing wrong with laughing at other people’s misfortunes. Slapstick is the category where physical comedy is king, often with pratfalls, tripping or falling over, taking centre stage over dialogue, plot and character development. The physical comedy in these films contains a cartoonish style of violence that is predominantly harmless and goofy in tone. A must have if you want a good laugh.

22-Jump-Street-2
Hill and Tatum as cops come students in 22 Jump Street (2014)

 

One of the biggest categories is the team-up category. By this, I mean a group of friends or loveable misfits coming together and “teaming up” for the sake of the story, to solve a problem, for example. Team-ups use an array of jokes that really sugar-coat a sincere message of friendship and trust.

Yes, they’ll be bumps in the road, perhaps a falling out between them, but in the end, our comedic heroes will come together to be the…well, the heroes. Predominantly noticeable in buddy cop movies, like 21 and 22 Jump Street, Hot Fuzz or The Other Guys, but there is also a plethora of other social situations where a team-up is needed; The Goonies, Pitch Perfect, The Hangover, We’re The Millers, or even Guardians of the Galaxy all reach their goals by putting aside their differences and working together. A big intake of this category will not only provide you with well-timed laughs but also that heartfelt message.

And the last staple food group that, well, isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea, is black comedy. The dark humour of some comedies is either too obvious, and really not that dark, like The Cable Guy, Horrible Bosses or Shaun of the Dead, or it’s found in films associated with other genres, where black comedy appears as an occasional joke, or to make a dark matter somewhat comical, like American Psycho, Drop Dead Gorgeous or Fargo. Take care with this category.

Black comedy and psychological thriller wrapped up in one. Christian Bale in 2000 hit American Psycho

 

The good thing about the comedy genre however, is that there is something out there for everyone, no matter what type of humour you’re in to. Barely scraping the surface of this beautiful genre, there’s so much more to dive in to and for you to explore. But if you stick to a diet that incorporates the big six (no, not Big Hero 6), then you’ll get your fill of amusement. Make sure to find the right balance in order to get the most out this genre as there’s just so much depth to it!

Bear in mind, this diet will almost definitely *not* help you lose weight but at least it’ll make you happy… And what’s more important than happiness?

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