Comedy • Comedy films are typically designed to make an audience laugh. They're often lighthearted, except in the case of black comedy, which often has an eerie or even sadistic edge. In general, comedy films exaggerate certain elements, such as the language or situations that the characters find themselves in. There are a few different types of comedy movies, such as slapstick comedies, situational comedies and farces.
Low comedy • Low comedy is a type of comedy characterized by "horseplay", slapstick or farce. Examples include somebody throwing a custard pie in another's face. This definition has also expanded to include lewd types of comedy that rely on physical jokes, for example, the wedgie. • Low comedy was first denoted as comedy for the commoners because it was most often practiced by street performers. Over time as low comedy began to include lewd jokes and more physical comedy, more mainstream performers began to practice this type of comedy. Today low comedy can be seen in almost any production.
High comedy • High comedy or 'pure comedy' is a type of comedy characterized by witty dialog, satire, biting humor, or criticism of life. • Today, high comedy can be seen among sitcoms targeted at cultured and articulate audiences. Examples of high comedy are frequently found in Monty Python skits.
Comedians • Some comedies feature comedians as the main character or main characters. The comedians tell jokes and can entertain by acting in a sketch format, as you may see on a comic variety show. In comedian-driven films, the main characters practically carry the entire movies thanks to their hilarious dialogue. One-liners delivered by a single comedian, or a volley between two comedians, round out these types of movies.
Timing • One of the most important elements of comedy movies is timing. Without great timing, jokes and stunts fall flat. In order to ensure that actors will be used to timing their jokes perfectly, a director may decide to hire professional comedians, even if they don't have a lot of acting experience. Knowing exactly when to deliver a joke is the basis for a good comedy.
Slapstick • Slapstick comedies rely on performers who use exaggerated actions to get a laugh from the audience, including slipping, falling and funny faces. There may also be a series of jokes, all in a row, between multiple characters. At these moments the plot stands still, and the audience focuses just on the jokes. Slapstick originated in silent films by performers such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
Situational Comedies • Situational comedies are narrative-driven. Often, the main character in a comedy will find himself in unfamiliar surroundings, feeling like a "fish out of water." While dealing with a new environment, the protagonist will come across several problems that provide amusement for the audience. Sometimes these situational comedies drop a group of people into an unfamiliar or difficult situation and follow them as they attempt to get out of it -- and hit several roadblocks along the way, which make them react in new ways.
Farce • Several comedy movies include the element of farce. Farcical elements can include wacky plots and situations, overly fast-paced action sequences, mistaken identities, secrets that are kept under wraps, misunderstandings and some slapstick. Farcical comedies are different from situational comedies in that they are outlandish and sometimes complete fantasy. They also sometimes make fun of other movies. For example, the movie "Spaceballs" is a farce and a spoof on "Star Wars."
Born: April 16, 1889 in England, London • Died: December 25, 1977 in Vevey, Switzerland • Honorary Academy Award, 1972; knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, 1975.
The film actor, director, and writer Charles Spencer Chaplin was one of the most original creators in the history of the cinema. His remarkable portrayal of "the tramp"--a sympathetic comic character in ill-fitting clothes and a trademark mustache--won admiration from international audiences.
In 1910 Chaplin went to the United States and was chosen by film maker Mack Sennett to appear in asilent Keystone comedy series. In these early movies, Chaplin made the transition from a comedian of overdrawn theatrics to one of cinematic delicacy and choreographic precision. • He created the role of the tramp, a masterful comic conception, notable for its combination of "noble melancholy and impish humor."
Appearing in over 30 short films, Chaplin realized that the breakneck speed of Sennett's productions was hindering his personal talents. He left to work at the EssanayStudios. • In 1918 Chaplin built his own studio and signed a $1,000,000 contract with National Films, producing such silent-screen classics as A Dog's Life, Shoulder Arms, and The Kid.
In 1923 Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford formed United Artists to produce feature-length movies of high quality. • In 1931 Chaplin directed City Lights, a beautifully lyrical tale, considered by many critics as his finest work. • It was with his more complex productions of the 1930s and 1940s that Chaplin achieved true greatness as film director and satirist.
The love showered upon Chaplin in the early years of his career was more than equaled by the vilification directed toward him during the 1940s and early 1950s. • The American public was outraged by the outspoken quality of his political views, the turbulence of his personal life, and the sarcastic, often bitter, element expressed in his art. • An avowed socialist and atheist, Chaplin expressed a hatred for right-wing dictatorship which made him politically suspect during the early days of the cold war. • This hostility was compounded when he released his version of, Monsieur Verdoux.
On vacation in Europe in 1952, Chaplin was notified by the U.S. attorney general that his reentry into the United States would be challenged. The charge was moral turpitude and political unreliability. Chaplin, who had never become a United States citizen, sold all his American possessions and settled in Geneva, Switzerland, with his fourth wife, Oona O'Neill, daughter of the American playwright Eugene O'Neill, and their children.
By the 1970s times had changed, and Chaplin was again recognized for his rich contribution to film making. He returned to the United States in 1972, where he was honored by major tributes in New York City and Hollywood, including receiving an honorary Academy Award. In 1975, he became Sir Charles Chaplin after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Two years later, on December 25, 1977, Chaplin died in his sleep in Switzerland.