Comedy multiple types of comedies exist. Slapstick
Comedyfilms are films designed to make the audience laugh. A common characteristic ofcomedy is an exaggeration of events, which is done to provide further amusementto viewers. Comedies also tend to have happy endings, keeping in line with thegeneral light-heartedness of the genre. Some movies may even take typicalfrustrations experienced by most viewers and portray them in a non-seriousmanner.
As with all movies, comedies contain at least one conflict. Theseconflicts may be caused by numerous events, such as an exaggeratedmisunderstanding or a case of mistaken identity. Comedy allows the audience to”take a break” from the hassles of life and enjoy a couple hours of pureamusement (Dirks, 2017). There are two main presentations ofcomedy: comedian-led and situation-comedy. Comedian-led comedies are known for”well-timed gags, jokes, or sketches”, and situation-comedies are “told withina narrative” (Dirks, 2017).
Comedies are also frequently combined with othergenres, such as drama-comedy and musical-comedy. Further classified into othercategories are comedy subgenres. These films are mainly comedic with a focus ona certain aspect of humor.
Examples of comedy subgenres are romantic comediesand sports comedies (Dirks, 2017). Overall, multiple types of comediesexist. Slapstick comedy can be described as a type of physical comedy.
Laughteris typically elicited through actions, rather than words. For example, an actorthrowing a pie in another actor’s face would be representative of slapstickcomedy. Deadpan comedy is more of a “dry” humor. Actors may make the audiencelaugh while only using a neutral facial expression, rather than a smile orsmirk. Verbal comedy elicits laughter with the use of words, unlike slapstickcomedy.
The actor uses his or her wit to make the audience laugh. Screwballcomedies are slightly similar to slapstick comedies. This type of comedypresents acting in a ridiculous or crazy manner and often involves a romanticinterest between two characters. Black comedy can be described as using a”dark” sense of humor, often portraying serious events, such as illness ordeath. This type of comedy does not usually have a happy ending, like mostcomedies. Parodies are a type of comedy that imitate another genre, movie,etc., in a light-hearted manner. The purpose of this type of genre may be toeither make fun of the specific topic or simply make the audience laugh (Dirks,2017).
The film Bringing Up Baby (1938) is a comedy. Further categorized, it is anexample of a screwball comedy. As described above, screwball comedies tend toportray acting in a crazy manner, with events that do not typically happen inthe real world. According to Giannetti (2014), the film overlooks issues ofright and wrong and focuses on the humorous aspect of the situation. Forexample, near the beginning of the film, Susan (played by Katharine Hepburn)attempts to drive off in David’s (played by Cary Grant) car, despite hisemphatic insistence that the car belongs to him.
She even causes damage to thevehicle by running into other objects around her. In conjunction with thecharacteristics of screwball comedy, this scene is portrayed as humorous,rather than as a serious matter (Hawks, 1938). There is a romantic interest in thefilm Bringing up Baby (1938) betweenSusan and David.
David tries to avoid Susan, but her actions repeatedly andunintentionally force him to become involved in each situation. Despite Susan’scrazy behavior throughout the film, David eventually falls in love with Susan.All of these events are exaggerated in the film, which is anothercharacteristic of a comedy. For example, while at a restaurant, Davidaccidentally steps on Susan’s dress and exposes her undergarments. The nextseveral minutes of the film emphasize this accident while David tries tocontinually tell Susan what happened and cover up her backside. While this filmcan be frustrating to the viewer at times, it definitely elicits frequentlaughter (Hawks, 1938). The film Driving Miss Daisy (1989) is another example of a comedy, and it iscombined with the genre of drama. Unlike BringingUp Baby (1938), the humor is not as evident.
Most of the comedic reliefcomes from Miss Daisy (played by Jessica Tandy). She uses a “dry” sense ofhumor when responding to other actors. For example, when Hoke (played by MorganFreeman) first starts working for Miss Daisy, she is rude to him. When thehousekeeper, Idella (played by Esther Rolle), announces that she is leaving,Miss Daisy replies with “Alright, Idella, see you tomorrow.” However, when Hokenext announces that he is leaving, Miss Daisy replies with simply “Good.
” It ishumorous because she is acting very stubborn (Zanuck, Zanuck, & Beresford, 1989). Like the film Bringing Up Baby (1938), DrivingMiss Daisy (1989) portrays an evolving relationship between two characters.However, the developing love is between two friends, rather than a romanticinterest. Conflict results early in the movie when Miss Daisy wrecks her carand is unable to drive. Her son, Boolie (played by Dan Aykroyd), hires Hoke todrive Miss Daisy around town. She is not happy with this decision, which leadsto her stubbornness and rudeness toward Hoke and Boolie, both.
While it doesnot seem as if Miss Daisy will ever like Hoke, the film ends with a closefriendship between the two. This happy ending is another characteristic of atypical comedy (Zanuck, Zanuck, & Beresford, 1989). The film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), is a great example ofa comedy. It is classified as a type of parody, known as a lampoon or satire. Themovie originated from the creators of a humor magazine known as National Lampoon. The magazine beganreleasing films in 1978, all with comedy as the genre.
Chevy Chase was the leadactor in several of the films, portraying the father and husband of a familythat wants nothing more than to spend time with his family. However, duringthis time, something always seems to go wrong for him, providing numerousinstances of hilarity for the audience (Dirks, 2017). The movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), centers around afamily spending time together at Christmas, which is normally portrayed as apositive event. However, in this film, numerous conflicts and humoroussituations arise when the family comes together at Christmas. These conflictsare sometimes the result of silly misunderstandings between family members. LikeDriving Miss Daisy (1989), there is aprevalence of “dry” humor in the movie. Clark (played by Chevy Chase), inparticular, provides much comedic relief in the film. He frequently uses a”dry” sense of humor and sarcasm when communicating with his family members.
For example, when cousin Eddie (played by Randy Quaid) and his family arrive atClark’s home unexpectedly, Eddie asks, “You surprised to see us, Clark?”. Clarkthen responds with “Oh, Eddie, if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to thecarpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.” While Eddie does notrecognize this statement as sarcasm, the audience sees this comment as humorous(Hughes, Jacobson, & Chechik, 1989).
In the film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), events are sometimesexaggerated to make the audience laugh. For example, Clark Griswold becomesobsessed with decorating his house for Christmas with as many lights aspossible. When he turns on the lights, he causes a power outage in the area andthere is a brief scene showing someone switching on a nuclear reactor to solvethe problem. This is an example of an exaggerated event to elicit laughter fromthe audience. The film also demonstrates an example of a common frustration oflife for some people: spending the holidays with extended family and trying toget along with everyone in close proximity.
The film, however, manages toportray this situation in a funny way. Despite all of the conflict among familymembers, however, National Lampoon’s ChristmasVacation (1989) results in a happy ending, just like the majority of comedyfilms (Hughes, Jacobson, & Chechik, 1989).