“Comedy Keeps the Heart Sweet”

In one of my college classes, we were discussing why comedy is often looked down upon as an artistic form compared to tragedy or drama.  And if you think about it, comedy often does get pushed aside – you’ll find far more literary criticism about Hamlet or A Streetcar Named Desire than you will about As You Like It or The Odd Couple.  The number of comedy films (and actors/actresses starring in those films) which go on to win Academy Awards are quite small.  Why is this?

I love comedy and drama.  Hamlet and Streetcar are two of my favorite plays, but I also love Noises Off and one of my favorite book series I read growing up was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Some comedy is satirical.  Some makes us think.  Other comedy is just pure, laughter-inducing entertainment.  And I don’t think we need to have a superlative art form – art is good for different reasons, for different people.  And as Mark Twain says (who was both a brilliant intellectual and comic): “Comedy Keeps the Heart Sweet.”

I happen to think, for instance, that the upcoming film Black Dynamite could potentially be one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time.  If you thought Undercover Brother or I’m Gonna Git You Sucka was funny, this is their hysterical spiritual sequel:

Now, I wouldn’t exactly call this high art, but apart from being massively entertaining, if you take a closer look, it is actually a pretty brilliant satire and spoof of ’70s Blaxploitation films, accomplishing the tricky feat of both paying homage to a bygone era and reveling in just how ridiculous it all was.  I love Hamlet’s soliloquies as much as the next thespian, but that doesn’t stop a movie with the tagline “Guaranteed to put your ass in traction!” from holding a very special place in my heart.

~ by Ross on September 19, 2009.

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