Friday, October 08, 2010

Ha ha ha – the ins and outs of comedy

Last week, I saw one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The Other Guys, with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Maybe it’s just because I was there with my kids, but I couldn’t stop laughing. The great thing was, most of the time, the movie stopped just short of the OTT humor in which Ferrell sometimes indulges, which I find more painful than funny. Ferrell is great when he’s playing the “straight man” which he was in this film. And while there were 15 minutes or so of slight drag in the last third, most of the time it cracked along.

The problem with comedy, is one man’s laugh is another man’s cringe – this applies to books and TV as well as movies. I love the Shopaholic novels (the latest, Mini-Shopaholic, just arrived in the mail today, yay!) and laugh all the way through them, but I have friends who find them irritating. Half the TV shows that are generously classified as sitcom leave me cold, while others, like Seinfeld, crack me up every time.

I learned a lot recently about how and why comedy is funny when I attended a workshop with Hollywood comedy guru Steve Kaplan. Sometimes, the kind of analysis you do in a workshop makes it harder to enjoy books or movies as a reader or viewer. But the great thing about Kaplan’s workshop was that I can still enjoy comedy, and in fact, appreciate it even more, without my tendency to analyze sucking the life out of it.

I also have a greater appreciation those writers who seem to produce effortless comedy. Because I know from experience it’s never effortless—in fact, it’s extremely difficult.

Okay, I’ve told you some of the movies and books I find funny...now how about you tell me yours? Because if there’s one thing we all need, it’s a good laugh!