Saturday, 4 October 2014

Make a joke but don't break my eardrums

To anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, you'll know that funny is my thing.

I like to laugh. I like to make other people laugh. I like to write stories that make me laugh. I like to write stories that make other people laugh. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not, but at least I enjoy trying.

Of course, as someone who is into funny, I really enjoy watching comedy films and television. In fact, I would probably say that overall, my writing is probably more influenced by performed comedy than it is by text-based works - particularly given I would say my major written influence is Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy which of course was originally written to be performed.

But there's one thing that I'm starting to find quite frustrating as a consumer of stuff that is supposed to be funny. I'm finding it more and more difficult to find comedy films that appeal to my sense of humour. And I think I've finally figured out the reason for this.

These days, comedy films seem to be soooo loud.

I'm not saying loudness itself is a problem. Loud works well, when it's able to set itself off against quietness. But when it just seems to be loudness competing with other loudness, it just ends up being, well, loud.

It seems to me that in most comedy films, each of the performers is competing against the others to see who can be the funniest - but they just end up getting louder and louder. And it's not just in so-called comedy films. This dynamic is now a big part of animated films - particularly those that fancy themselves as pitching a lot of jokes above the children to the adult audience. Sometimes it seems like every second character is riffing away like some sort of overly-extroverted New York stand-up comedian.

Don't get me wrong. I'm trying not to be some sort of anti-comedy grump. I just wish sometimes that it all wasn't quite so in your face. I know there's a way to be a little bit quiet and a little bit contemplative and still be a whole lot funny.

Biggest, like most of us, I always need a laugh. But I really don't need a headache.

1 comment:

  1. Like you one of my big influences is comedy and I frankly find it hard to be serious for any length of time. Given my general demeanour I think this surprises some people. They imagine I’ll be too serious for that. The thing is you can be serious and humorous at the same time. Humour makes serious things palatable. To that end I probably veer towards more gentle forms of humour. I’m, for instance, a huge Woody Allen fan. And the one thing he’s not is loud. Half the time you’re not even sure whether he’s being serious or ironic or flippant or actually just cracking a honest to goodness joke. Of the stand-ups I go for the observational comics. I’m particularly fond of the likes of Jack Dee, Steven Wright and Peter Cook—deadpan comics. I don’t tend to seek out comedies these days. I get round to every Woody Allen film eventually and I do look at every upcoming film but it’s been years since a comedy’s grabbed me by the lapels and screamed: WATCH ME! I did watch A Million Ways to Die in the West recently which was okay—nothing Seth MacFarlane has a hand in is going to be awful (Ted was likewise okay)—but that’s the best I could say about it. Mostly I stick to sitcoms and as we watch two a day (one with lunch, one with dinner) I get through a fair number. Most are average fair but I do really like The Big Bang Theory. Louis is good and Maron too. The rest just blur into a single mush of gentle, not especially offensive humour.

    Occasionally—usually when Carrie’s in the States—I’ll watch a few stand-up sets and they can be loud. Sometimes it feels like they’re berating the audience. That can wear one down even when they’re very good—I’m thinking of classic performers like Richard Prior and Eddie Murphy—and there’s no reason for it. They have microphones. They could whisper their entire acts and we’d hear every word. Eddie Izzard doesn’t scream at his audiences. And neither did George Carlin—been working my way through his shows. Did watch one fellow last time you should check out—he’s done a fair bit of work in Australia—Ross Noble. The show I watched began with him chatting to the audience and his entire routine was constructed from his interactions with him. Quite astounding really.

    Haven’t watched an animated film in many a year. Not probably since Antz orA Bug’s Life. Or maybe that’s not true. I seem to recall seeing Cars and Robots and they’re not that old. And Up. And Toy Story 3. So maybe I’m havering. Forget I said anything.