Serious Comedy, Part IB
We're going to backtrack a little this week. We'll get into some other methods for creating an atmosphere of funny next week.
Back when I was writing part one, I was trying to remember another aspect of why writing comedy seems hard. For the life of me, it didn't come until a couple of weeks ago. And it was one of those 'duh' moments. This reason is why I came up with the title 'Serious Comedy' in the first place. I'm dumbfounded it took me so long to remember this point.
Anyway, here it is: nobody takes comedy seriously. When I say this, I get funny looks, like, “Well, of course, comedy is comedy. It's not supposed to be taken seriously.” True, but that's not what I mean.
As I've said before, just about everyone wants to laugh. I believe that is why humorous jokes, stories, books, TV shows, and movies are a significant part of our culture. We need them to help us meet our need for humor. The question I ask is, what percentage of our entertainment is comedy? Maybe fifteen to twenty percent (I'm guesstimating)?
Okay, next question. What percentage of comedy movies have won Oscars? When I perused the list, I didn't recognize any. Now, there were a few that had humor in them, but they were not full-blown comedies. Of course, I don't know much about the movies from the thirties, forties, and fifties, so there might be one hiding there, but I doubt it. In fact, even looking at the list of nominees that didn't win Oscars, I didn't recognize any comedies. Wouldn't you think that if fifteen percent of all movies were comedies, fifteen percent of the nominees and winners would also be comedies? It makes sense to me. However, since they are not well represented in the Oscars, I return to my hypothesis that comedy isn't taken seriously.
At least with the Emmy awards, there are separate categories for comedy. I believe if it weren't for that, comedy would be completely ignored there as well. And literature? I've looked over several lists of the “100 all-time best novels” and found a few comedies, but not very many. It's interesting the variations between the different lists, though, based on the opinion of their compilers. It just shows how everyone has different taste and it is not possible to please all the critics.
So, yeah, when comedies don't win a lot of awards, we can get to thinking that comedy is hard. It just doesn't seem appreciated. Well, it is, so don't let that thought bring you down. Just because what we write will probably never win any of those snooty awards, there are still people out there who need to be uplifted and cheered up by what we write. Now get out there and (cue 'Singing in the Rain' music): “Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh.”