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The Big and Small of Comedy

Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 8, 2022

In Skin Deep, an old comedy/drama by Blake Edwards, starring John Ritter, I found one of my favorite movies for a long stretch of time. I watched it over and over. But the part everyone talked about, with the glow-in-the-dark condoms – I really didn't like that. I preferred the melancholy stuff, the character stuff and the wordplay.

On a horror podcast I really enjoy, the ‘casters, both movie buffs, took a little tangent at one point to talk about modern comedy. One of them said that he was not a fan of Jim Carrey’s too-big characters in the 90's, say Ace Ventura and the movies after - then they went the other way, lamenting the “Wes Anderson-ification of comedy”.

They said that all comedy had become way too small, and way too dry. Not a Wes Anderson problem - but the imitation of his style has become pervasive (according to these guys).

I was very interested in this. I wish I had a real opinion on this myself, but I don't watch enough stuff these days. Podcasts and review shows and stuff like that has become my go-to entertainment.

From Woody Allen to Mystery Science Theater and The Office, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I guess my comedic tastes do run to the dry and small. It's the little stuff that rings truest to me I guess. Even the standup comedians I like best tend to be the wry, dry types. Still, most of those comedians, and the filmmakers I like can stray into broader comedy, bigger moments at times. Those are usually not my favorite moments.

But man does not live by bread alone, as my butcher says! I do like a little Austin Powers, and some Jim Carrey, and some…uh…okay, maybe the bigger, broader comedy is not really my cup of tea.

I guess I like a combination. Jiminy Glick is my jam, and I still wish he'd come back and do another show.

And you know, reflecting on Skin Deep, which I watched again recently after years, one of the standout scenes was the electroshock therapy and its aftermath, brilliantly played by John Ritter.

Anyhoos, these were some of my thoughts today…or my thoughts on the thoughts of other folks.

What ‘kind’ of comedy do you like? Or is it just “anything that makes me laugh” (which is more than fair).

See you next time!

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Banes at 6:13PM, Sept. 11, 2022

@ozone - No Buster Keaton or Charles Chaplin, even?

Ozoneocean at 7:09AM, Sept. 10, 2022

I like most types of comedy except physical comedy. It doesn't really appeal that much generally. Lee Evans who was in Something ABout Mary is a great example of that. It was a very funny film but he was AWFUL

Banes at 9:28AM, Sept. 9, 2022

@PaulEberhardt - That makes sense. yeah, if a show/series/story is trying to be EVERYTHING, it's pretty much impossible to make it work.

Banes at 9:26AM, Sept. 9, 2022

@Corruption - Interesting! I saw a tiny bit of the Odd Couple TV show (you're talking about the one with Matthew Perry I assume?) - it just didn't grab me at all. Maybe it had something to do with the reasons you suggest. Makes sense to me!

PaulEberhardt at 7:14AM, Sept. 9, 2022

I like "witty and acerbic" as much as "witty but just for fun" as much as "just silly" and as much as "really far out". It really depends on my mood at the particular day I watch it. There's however some things that apply to all of them: 1 - I like my humour dry: the high art of well-timed deadpan delivery is always a winner as far as I'm concerned. And 2 - I don't like it stirred: by which I mean that any attempt at mixing the four categories I mentioned above usually isn't a good idea, because it tends to produce a random jumble that doesn't know where it wants to go. It's the little but all-important difference between silly on purpose and silly by accident. Much better to settle for one and pull all registers. (This said, I've got a soft spot for movies that horribly fail, too, you know the ones that didn't set out to be funny but turned out that way - but that's a different kind of accidental silliness and doesn't count; failed comedies just suck.)

Corruption at 10:09PM, Sept. 8, 2022

I like dry humor but not too dry. Shows like MASH are good for me as they can add silliness in a way that makes sense. Often you will see shows that try to adapt a comedy to a different culture or the modern age and fail, like the Americian versions of Kath and Kim, and The Odd Couple. Both cases had them going overboard and missing the point of what made the original a hit. Case Study: Odd Couple. Original version had people from different backgrounds with opposing personalities forced to like together, but trying to do so. The humor was based in realistic events/reactions. Modern version had two people from the same general background at extreme personality ranges doing over the top stuff. The humor was based in being silly and people being stupid. Just my view on it.

Banes at 5:22PM, Sept. 8, 2022

@jerrie - I could go on about skin deep for hours haha. Now that I rewatched I remember how much I liked it. I remember when my friend and I watched it back in high school and his stepdad, who was kind of this Holy Roller type, demanded to know why my friend wanted to watch that movie and what he liked about it. It was so damn awkward haha. There’s something about Mary was hilarious - so many movies copied its gross-out type of comedy but none of them were nearly as good as that movie!

jerrie at 12:11PM, Sept. 8, 2022

I found Skin Deep to be hilarious. Another great, funny film for me, was Something about Mary. I couldn't stop laughing.

Banes at 10:57AM, Sept. 8, 2022

@Coydog - Leslie Nielsen was incredible, and I really knew him only as the comedic actor. The fact that he was a dramatic star before that and recreated himself is really something! He was the king of that spoof genre for sure.

Coydog at 8:53AM, Sept. 8, 2022

The spoof comedies of the 80's and 90's are still some of my favorites. It was remarkable to see the old disaster movie stalwart Leslie Nielsen reboot his career as a comic actor, and pull that off brilliantly. He knew all the tropes and how to overplay them JUST ENOUGH for maximum laughs.

Banes at 8:07AM, Sept. 8, 2022

@marcorossi - The way i think of it, it would be big, very exaggerated characters or behaviors as opposed to more realistic, small behaviors and interactions. Of course, plenty of great comedy can do both I s'pose.

marcorossi at 7:46AM, Sept. 8, 2022

I'm confused by this distinction between "big" and "small" comedy. Where would Get Smart be? And the Simpsons? And Mr Bean? (real question because I don't get the difference, not some sort of rethotical question).

Banes at 6:46AM, Sept. 8, 2022

@bravo - that's true; there are plenty of those. I guess it's harder to think of any that I LIKE xD. Although I enjoyed Airplane and Naked Gun and some others.

bravo1102 at 3:53AM, Sept. 8, 2022

Well there are still plenty of the very broad Scary Movie franchise style movies like Super Hero movie or Epic Movie. They're not comedy genius or reinventing anything but basic broad spoof. One of my go-to has been An American Carol which is just a great send up of the American left and right.

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