DOES ANYONE REMEMBER LAUGHTER? Image

I remember when comedies were funny.

My parents came home one night with a film they’d purchased at “Tower Records” in Manhattan. It was something called “Young Frankenstein”. I remember when they popped in the tape, and I sat there staring puzzled through it all. It wasn’t horror as I’d originally thought, this was a comedy, and it was black and white, yet these people were never goofy. Every gag was sharp, lethal, and played with dramatic deadpan.

I just sat there thinking: “What is going on?”

Granted, I was only about ten and I didn’t understand the Brooks comedy at the time. The next morning, I popped in the tape again and I realized that this was a really good comedy. And I laughed so hard through it all. My favorite scene has to be when Frederick is attempting to talk to Frankenstein and warns his crew “Whatever you do, do not let me out. If I scream, if I beg, do not let me out.” And you know what happens next. It’s a scene that continues to leave me in tears.

I’m turning twenty-three on August 26th, and I’m still quoting films like “Young Frankenstein”, “Airplane!”, and “Horse Feathers” to my friends. And I thank my mom and my uncle for that. Two of the biggest movie buffs I’ve ever known.

When I was fourteen, my uncle Freddy sat me down to introduce me to the Marx Brothers. My gateway film was “Horse Feathers” a film that was too funny to watch all at once. Groucho gave every reply with a sharp comeback, Harpo was a wiz with props, Chico mispronounced every single word, and the musical numbers were Gonzo, and I loved it.

And I grew to love comedy in many forms and, of course, I love the old time comedies. The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Jerry Lewis, Rowen and Martin, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Monty Python. And then there are the pure gold: Animal House, Blazing Saddles, Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, This is Spinal Tap, etc.

I’d take “Who’s Minding the Store?” over “Grandma’s Boys” any day of the week.

Give me “Animal House”, you can take your “Napoleon Dynamite”.

And let’s not forget The Marx Brothers. Hands down my favorite comedy team of all time.

There’s just no beating Groucho Marx in a battle of wits.

Of course, you’ll say that a good comedy is really only subjective, but then I’d have to kick you in the teeth for being such a stupid a*s.

Modern comedy really sucks. And I know it’s not the most elegant way to write it, but it’s very true. Modern comedies really suck. The only comedies we ever see are romance comedies, and I am tired of them. And the ones that aren’t are simply soft ball.

I recall when “Kicking and Screaming” was being explained as utterly hilarious.

And then I sat through it and all I could see was an SNL member struggling to keep his career alive and trying really hard to make the audience laugh.

And then there’s “Dirty Love”. M***********g “Dirty Love”. Have you seen this yet?

I know many movie fans criticized the Razzie organization for proclaiming “Dirty Love” as the worst movie of 2005, yet not many saw it, so how can you brand it the worst?

Well, I see their point now. “Dirty Love” is, without the doubt, unequivocally, the worst comedy of all time. Scratch that, the worst comedy I’ve ever seen. I’d gladly sit through “White Chicks” yet again if it meant not having to watch “Dirty Love” again.

After sitting through half of that garbage, I realized McCarthy has no dignity. She’s almost like that actress who will do anything to get by, so she stars in porn. Granted, she’s never been in a porn, but you get my point. McCarthy did look damn good a few years ago.

I remembered her appearing as a mechanic in “Home Improvement” and dear god was she ever good looking. I remember thinking how great she looked when she was being straight faced. And then I saw “Dirty Love” and now I can’t even fathom taking a second glance at her.

“Dirty Love”, if you can sit through most of it, is a surefire car wreck, one that I really couldn’t finish. I got about thirty minutes into it and I had to shut it off and pray that this wasn’t all comedies had to offer the American public. One-liners were fell like bricks, the acting was painful and the gags was just as unfunny as can be.

And then, there’s “Little Man”. In my review, I took into consideration advice that Rory Aronsky gave me one day explaining that I shouldn’t show the readers my cards in the review. Show them you have a pulse, but never let them get a full grasp of your emotions. After watching “Little Man” it took everything in me to keep from writing five paragraphs of pure unadulterated swearing and damning on the Wayanses.

If you knew me personally, you know what I’m talking about. This movie is pure unfunny filth, and worst of all, it’s made its money back, which means the Wayanses have more in store for us. This is why we need movie critics. In spite of what everyone believes, people do listen to movie critics. You dont know how many times people claim not to listen to movie critics, yet still feel angered enough to write about how one critic in particular angered them.

The world will always need film critics as long as “Benchwarmers” and “Little Man” continue plodding into theaters.

Fact is, comedy is a dying artform, comedy is an artform that is the toughest to master, and the hardest to conquest, and it’s dying, thanks to idiots like the Wayanses, and McCarthy, and Sandler who have no idea how to deliver a remotely decent comedy. They’ll do anything to make us laugh, even if it means creating an incredibly obscene cartoon, a really bad indie comedy, or featuring two black guys dressing up as white heiresses.

I refuse to believe “Little Man” made money because of genuine interest, I stick with my theory that morbid curiosity and general stupidity attributed to its mild success. People are so easily willing to part with their money these days. Same goes for “The Benchwarmers” and “Pink Panther”. Did anyone actually find these movies funny? Does anyone care about old time comedy anymore? Does anyone care that someone was Clouseau before Martin, and that someone was a man named Peter Sellers who was a pure comic genius and mastered the Clouseau character miles beyond Martin?

No one cares anymore. We’ve been injected into a state of apathy where we not only forget our history, but also lose respect for it. There have only been a few modern comedies to arrive that have really brought hope that there’s a glimmer of optimism for the genre, but if films like “Little Man” are any indication, the genre is dead and buried.

And the question I ask myself is does anyone remember laughter?

When all is said and done, many of these modern comedies really just leave me straight-faced. Comedy has gone the way of the dodo, and what you see now is really only a dim shadow.

Many thanks to Michael Ferrarro for contributing his ever famous art.

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  1. david douglass says:

    I recently watched 1,2,3 with James Cagney directed by Billy Wilder and cannot imagine one director or actor that could pull off the pacing and multi-layered humor today. Almost every line of dialouge leads to a punch-line. The self awareness and parody of political and cultural mores of that time and place are at such an apogee that I doubt we have any writers, actors, or directors capable of crafting such an elegant mulitlayered comedy in todays microwave mentality world.

  2. I’ll take the Marx Brothers over Napoleon Dynamite any day.

    And you know how I enjoy a good Chaplin or Keaton film 🙂

  3. YiQi says:

    Or

    to play unscrupulous satyr’s advocate,

    perhaps writers are too unmotivated, too uninspired, too dry to write verbal comedy the way a fast-talking James Cagney or Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn or even a dazed & confused Lucille Ball love.

    instead, “we’ll give you people to laugh at and find odd enough or smelly enough, but not in a John Waters sort of way, to chuckle at in merriment.”

  4. state parks says:

    Just another sign of the overall decline in American ‘Culture.’

    The ‘don’t open the door’ bit from Young Frankenstein: pure genius. I quote it frequently myself, most recently when the wife was giving birth and we weren’t sure if she’d relent and want an epidural (at first she said ‘no way’ to drugs, but then … the epidural in this case being the act of opening the door …)

  5. I could not agree with you more. Modern comedy seems to be focused on “randomness” (see: Family Guy, Napoleon Dynamite, et al) rather than actually being funny. Sure, if you show a goat randomly falling from the sky and injuring a woman with a walker, it might earn a giggle, but it’s not something you’re going to remember for years and years.

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