Lecture 7:What’s Funny? Professor Daniel Cutrara There’s Something About Mary (1998) Ed Decter and John J. Strauss (story) Ed Decter & John J. Strauss and Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly (screenplay)
Previous Lesson • Independents • Little Miss Sunshine • Journey to Production • What makes it work
This Lesson • Laughter • Types of Comedy • There’s Something about Mary • Assignments
Laughter Lesson 7: Part I
Why do People Laugh? • Laughter from aggression • Laughter feeling superior • Plato • Laughter at the juxtaposition of incongruous elements. • Schopenhauer
Aggression • Slapstick • Charlie Chaplin, Marx Bros. • Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote • Abusive physical comedy • Grabbing hair, pulling noses
Superiority • Characters who appear foolish • Putting on airs • Deluded • The Princess Bride • Vizzini • The Office • Steve Carell’s character 7
Incongruity • The juxtaposition of elements that we don’t expect. • Mistaken identity • Gender crossing • Age and behavior switching • Human and animal • Tootsie • Dexter
Comedy Subgenres Lesson 7: Part II
Comedy and Subgenres • Comedy • Dramedy • Satire • Black Comedy • Farce • Screwball Comedy • Romantic Comedy • Comedy of Manners, Situation Comedy • Parody
Comedy • Functions with other genres- drama, action, adventure, mystery, etc. • Dramedy • Employs • Irony, Dramatic irony, Sarcasm • Situations that create laughter as noted above.
Farce (Broad Comedy) • Exaggerated situations and characters • Slapstick • Fast pace plot • Happy endings • Some Like it Hot (1959) • The Producers (1968, 2005)
Satire • A narrative that holds up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn. Satire and political satire use ironic comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of humor. • Wag the Dog (1997) • Dr. Strangelove… (1964)
Black Comedy • Black Comedy is defined by dark humor that makes light of so called dark or evil elements in human nature. • Very Bad Things (1998)
Screwball Comedy • Combines elements of farce with slapstick, and rapid fire dialogue. • Battle of the sexes in the midst of courtship. • Rich and poor- poor being noble. • It Happened One Night (1934) • Runaway Bride (1999)
Romantic Comedy • A popular genre that depicts romance in humorous terms, and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love. • Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Comedy of Manners • Comedy that satirically portrays the manners and fashions of a particular class or set. • The sitcom critiques middle class behavior. • Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan • Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tennenbaum’s
Parody • In film, styles and storylines are imitated in comedic ways. • Epic Movie (2007) • Scary Movie 1,2,3,4 (2000-6) • Galaxy Quest (1999)
Structure of Comedy • The most structured of genres. • Construction of gag • Timing of delivery
The Direction of Laughter • Laughing with the characters • protagonists • Laughing at the characters • Aggression, superiority
There’s Something about Mary Lesson 7: Part III Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly 21
The Backstory • The Farrelly Brothers • Dumb and Dumber (1994) • Kingpin (1996) • There’s Something About Mary (1998) • Shallow Hal (2001) • Stuck on You (2003) • The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
A Mix of Comedy Styles • Romantic Comedy meets Broad Comedy • Dramatic Irony combined with Slapstick
Mary Overview • Concept • First love, lost and found • Character • The average guy • Plot and Structure • Breaking the rules • Theme • Love is about sacrifice
The Story • Act One • Ted finding the courage to pursue the woman of his dreams. His backstory gives the narrative an emotional core. • Act Two • Healy and Tucker as Antagonists. Focus on Mary. • Act Three • Woogie’s betrayal. Ted’s character arc. What he learns about love.
The Element of Suspense • The Protagonist’s desire creates the following tensions. • Who will Mary choose? • Will Ted get there in time?
The Element of Surprise • Twists reveal character information that turn the story. • Tucker/Harv • Dom/Woogie • Brett Favre
What Makes it Funny? • Pause the lecture and watch the first clip from There’s Something About Mary. • What creates the humor? • Situation • Character • Use of suspense and surprise • Slapstick • Incongruity
Dramatic Irony • Pause the lecture and watch the second clip from There’s Something About Mary. • What do the police know that Ted doesn’t?
Development Change • Pause the lecture and review the end of the script. • How does this ending effect the overall impact and meaning of the film?
Development Change (cont’d) • Pause the lecture and watch the third clip from There’s Something About Mary. • How does this ending compare to the script’s? • How does it change the meaning of the film?
Non-Traditional • The chorus • the musicians • Breaking the fourth wall. • shifting away from traditional narrative
The Wrap Up • Comedy • A diverse genre • The most consciously designed narrative. • It’s funny if it’s funny.
Assignments There’s Something About Mary Lesson 7: Part IV
E-Board Post #1 • Approximately 200 words. Pick a film and breakdown the comic structure of one of the scenes. • Comment on two of your peers.
End of Lecture 7 Next Lecture: The Bible for Television Alias (The Cast)