Silent Film Comedy A Content Analysis Diane Fitzpatrick
A slapstick from the Commedia dell’arte
Slapstick comedy • Physical comedy that employs… • Broad humor • Absurd situations • Vigorous, usually violent action • Often includes chases slapstick. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548077/slapstick
Slapstick comedy • Has become used to describe most comedies of the silent era even as they evolved toward more character/story-based humor • With the more violent stuff termed “knockabout” …A couple of examples… (please don’t try this at home, kids)
Oranges & Lemons 1923
The Codebook Unit of Analysis
Unit of Analysis • The Laugh Point – the point during a comic bit at which the audience laughs • The Laugh Region – a series of laughs that come so closely together as to be somewhat indistinguishable from one another
The Codebook Main Elements
The Codebook Acting Style
Stage Acting • Not naturalistic • Over-emphatic gestures and facial expressions • Derived from legitimate theater and vaudeville • To be seen from a distance, or • Exaggerated for comic effect
Be My Wife 1925
Pantomime & Transformation • Pantomime – The use of actions and gestures to convey meaning without words • Transformation – When an object known for one purpose/function is treated as if it holds another purpose/function
The Gold Rush 1925
The Codebook Physicality
Stunts & Danger • PH7. Stunt. Did an action that contributed to the laugh point occur that would require such skill or coordination of movement that a professional would be needed to design or implement it? • PH8. Danger. Did the above stunt involve apparent danger to the character?
Our Hospitality 1923
The Codebook Laugh Point Motivation
Story motivation • LP2: Story. Was the action at the laugh point caused by something NOT clearly motivated by the story?
Get Out & Get Under 1920
The Codebook Effects
The Codebook Humor Theory
Some sample coding The Freshman, 1925
The Freshman 1925
Discussion • Does anything from the codebook stick out as… • unclear, • ambiguous, or • needing refinement?
Help! I need two people interested in coding a 20-minute segment of The Freshman. Any takers?