I, Fatty Question #4: Funny isn't easy...

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Theresa
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Unread postby Theresa » Fri Jul 08, 2005 7:44 pm

But seriously - you're right, DITHO,T about comedy being more of a personal taste.

When you think of drama, the category "drama" is what comes to mind. When you think of comedy, the categories multiply. There's highbrow, lowbrow, juvenile, slapstick, romantic, British...and it goes on and on.

I think that is what makes Johnny's performance in POTC all the more amazing - that it covered so many different areas of comedy that it appealed to everyone, young and old, men and women. It's just like Johnny to make sure he didn't pigeonhole himself into just one genre.

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Unread postby Veronica » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:13 pm

theresa wrote:But seriously - you're right, DITHO,T about comedy being more of a personal taste.

When you think of drama, the category "drama" is what comes to mind. When you think of comedy, the categories multiply. There's highbrow, lowbrow, juvenile, slapstick, romantic, British...and it goes on and on.

I think that is what makes Johnny's performance in POTC all the more amazing - that it covered so many different areas of comedy that it appealed to everyone, young and old, men and women. It's just like Johnny to make sure he didn't pigeonhole himself into just one genre.


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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:04 pm

Veronica wrote:
theresa wrote:But seriously - you're right, DITHO,T about comedy being more of a personal taste.

When you think of drama, the category "drama" is what comes to mind. When you think of comedy, the categories multiply. There's highbrow, lowbrow, juvenile, slapstick, romantic, British...and it goes on and on.

I think that is what makes Johnny's performance in POTC all the more amazing - that it covered so many different areas of comedy that it appealed to everyone, young and old, men and women. It's just like Johnny to make sure he didn't pigeonhole himself into just one genre.


:cloud9: :capnjack: :heart: :love: :heart2:


Well said, both of you! :cool:
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:50 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Veronica wrote:
theresa wrote:But seriously - you're right, DITHO,T about comedy being more of a personal taste.

When you think of drama, the category "drama" is what comes to mind. When you think of comedy, the categories multiply. There's highbrow, lowbrow, juvenile, slapstick, romantic, British...and it goes on and on.

I think that is what makes Johnny's performance in POTC all the more amazing - that it covered so many different areas of comedy that it appealed to everyone, young and old, men and women. It's just like Johnny to make sure he didn't pigeonhole himself into just one genre.


:cloud9: :capnjack: :heart: :love: :heart2:


Well said, both of you! :cool:


Ya'll took the words right out of my mouth, as it were. :lol:

Back to the variations in comedy, I think an actor can get away with a more universally accepted comedy than certain specialized comedies. I think slapstick is probably less appealing today than a more sophisticated type of comedy in which we can all relate--the type of humor that makes fun of life. On the other hand, that could just be my personal taste. And then there is Wile E. Coyote. :rotflmao: I think comedy can be regional, too. For example, what's funny here in the States may not be funny in Japan. And again, that's why it's so amazing that CJS appealed to such a wide range of ages, regions and philosophies.

Just wanted to add that I think Robin Williams is one of those comedic actors who is good at crossover.
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Unread postby JD101 » Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:09 pm

I think comedians make good dramatic actors becuase the comedian is keenly aware of the pain of the human condition. Humor is a way to cope. I think Robin Williams and Jim Carey are poignant dramatic actors when they let their coping mechanisims fall away.

I do think that comedy is harder because not everyone thinks the same things are funny. I remember a lot of people didn't get the very British humor of Monty Python... while others still have a penquin on their telly and giggle every time they eat Spam. Woody Allen's slapstick appeals to more people than his New York intellectual humor.

Humor is extremely individual, where as grief is universal. Everyone gets Sean Penn breaking down over his dead child. What is amazing is that everybody got Capt Jack's eunuch joke!
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Unread postby gilly » Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:13 pm

I always think that the best comic performances have been done by straight actors ,rather than comedians....because comedy is much more difficult and multi-layered ...
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Sat Jul 09, 2005 1:36 am

I think it is hard to get everyone to laugh at the same joke, because a joke is just words. A great comedic performance is not about what’s said, but how it’s visualized by through the actor’s expression, gesture and body language. Think Charlie Chaplin. Think JD as Edward Scissorhands. And yeah, Wile E Coyote. Russell Crowe and Sean Penn are great actors, but I can’t imagine them as actors without the emotional bridge of dialogue.
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Unread postby suec » Sat Jul 09, 2005 5:07 am

JD101 wrote:I think comedians make good dramatic actors becuase the comedian is keenly aware of the pain of the human condition. Humor is a way to cope. I think Robin Williams and Jim Carey are poignant dramatic actors when they let their coping mechanisims fall away.

I do think that comedy is harder because not everyone thinks the same things are funny. I remember a lot of people didn't get the very British humor of Monty Python... while others still have a penquin on their telly and giggle every time they eat Spam. Woody Allen's slapstick appeals to more people than his New York intellectual humor.

Humor is extremely individual, where as grief is universal. Everyone gets Sean Penn breaking down over his dead child. What is amazing is that everybody got Capt Jack's eunuch joke!


I agree, JD101. I don't get either Monty Python or Woody Allen - which leaves me feeling downright inadequate on occasions, when other people clearly do. I think for me it is the expectation to find them funny that means that I don't. I am much more likely to be amused when it catches me unawares. There are moments in DB that have me chuckling away every time (losing the screwdriver in the stereo; feeding the lion burgers in the car; the male bonding when talking about the cars). They are all unexpected but work for different reasons. The lion is a visual gag, but I can still relate to the characters' predicament, while the the bonding is a universal thing, and that is why it works for me.
I think :capnjack: has universal appeal because many people can relate to his situation, mainly the small guy fighting however he can for what he longs for and many can empathise with that. But there are a variety of comic moments so that there is the appeal for as many viewers as possible. For instance, the visual gag with his boat at the start of the film. Another moment for me is after Elizabeth has destroyed the rum and we see his reaction, because after all, the irritations of the other sex has universal appeal too. But it also works because of what we already know about :capnjack: so we bring a lot of knowledge and understanding to that moment.
I think maybe script writers have a very different job to do for comedy than for drama. With drama, there is the interest that comes from the plot, or the interest in the characters and their relationships, or enjoyment of the action, or or exploring certain themes and ideas. A comedy might have all of those, of course, but it also has to be funny. And so does the actor, so in a way, he is taking a bigger risk, arguably. On the other hand, it an also be argued that an actor sometimes has to really hit the emotional spot in a drama too. For instance, I read a review of The English Patient that said views were divided into those who were moved by it, and those who were not.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Jul 09, 2005 9:05 am

suec wrote: I think maybe script writers have a very different job to do for comedy than for drama.


If any of you have not watched POTC while listening to the writers commentary I highly recommend it!
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Unread postby ThirdArm » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:03 pm

Comedy is often not very funny. It's a thin layer that frequently covers a not-very-amusing situation. For example, in physical comedy, a person slipping on a banana peel--it's funny, but if you think about it, in reality there's nothing funny about it. It hurts and it embarrasses the person.

That's why I think comedy is extremely hard to do and that an actor has to FIRST be adept at comedy before s/he can be effective in a straight, dramatic role. It doesn't work the other way around. The dramatic actor comes off as stiff and self-conscious a good deal of the time when s/he attempts comedy.

It's a shame that the Academy doesn't reward fine comedic acting. It can be subtle and nuanced; whereas, anyone can wail and emote and chew the scenery.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:20 pm

CharlotteinCA wrote:
That's why I think comedy is extremely hard to do and that an actor has to FIRST be adept at comedy before s/he can be effective in a straight, dramatic role. It doesn't work the other way around. The dramatic actor comes off as stiff and self-conscious a good deal of the time when s/he attempts comedy.

It's a shame that the Academy doesn't reward fine comedic acting. It can be subtle and nuanced; whereas, anyone can wail and emote and chew the scenery.


Agreed Charlotte. Although sometimes I think the Academy is really rewarding a body of work unless there is a true stand out performance one year. (Even though they missed the boat as it were for a certain recent Best Actor award... :capnjack: )
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:54 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
CharlotteinCA wrote:
That's why I think comedy is extremely hard to do and that an actor has to FIRST be adept at comedy before s/he can be effective in a straight, dramatic role. It doesn't work the other way around. The dramatic actor comes off as stiff and self-conscious a good deal of the time when s/he attempts comedy.

It's a shame that the Academy doesn't reward fine comedic acting. It can be subtle and nuanced; whereas, anyone can wail and emote and chew the scenery.


Agreed Charlotte. Although sometimes I think the Academy is really rewarding a body of work unless there is a true stand out performance one year. (Even though they missed the boat as it were for a certain recent Best Actor award... :capnjack: )


I like your humor there, DITHOT. :grin:

This afternoon I've been watching The Forgotten Films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. It has definitely given me an appreciation for Roscoe and his fellow comedic actors. After viewing some of these films I've discovered that looks were everything in silent films. Well, duh! Timing was important, too. Roscoe's timing was right on target. And in the few films I've viewed I felt they played up his size--gearing the script to him. I think they could have worked around that, though. I think he was brilliant. But then so were Mable, Minta and a few other unknown-to-me actors (including Luke, the Dog). He had a way with his body, just as Stahl portrayed it in the book, that just flowed. And his expressions conveyed everything so clearly. A little bit too much make-up, though. I think the men wore more make-up than the women. Sorry I'm rambling, but I just had to share. Watching these films gives me more insight into Johnny and his acting, too.
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