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John Mundy and Glyn White

Just as silent film comedy developed in ways which overcame the absence of I speech and other aural effects, radio comedy developed techniques which circumvented the medium’s lack of pictures and which emphasised its own distinctive codes and conventions. Whereas silent film comedians relied on visual comedy, radio comedians and their scriptwriters explored the potential

in Laughing matters
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John Mundy and Glyn White

animation is designed to be comedic. Richard Taylor categorises animation into six distinct types: dramatic, lyrical, didactic, commercial, children’s entertainment and the comic. His concept of ‘comic’ animated films, made ‘primarily to provoke laughter’ includes what many people would regards as cartoons (Taylor 1996 ). Until fairly recently it has been too easy to blame

in Laughing matters
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John Mundy and Glyn White

Comedy, in a variety of guises, has been a staple of television broadcasting from its industrial beginnings and is thus far too broad a topic to treat fully in one chapter. Our focus here will primarily be on the situation comedy, the most clear-cut and, for exactly this reason, the most studied sub-genre of television comedy. Radio, the first broadcast medium (see previous

in Laughing matters
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John Mundy and Glyn White

In 1954 the writer John Montgomery, having just seen Harold Lloyd’s 1923 silent comedy Safety Last at a London cinema repertory club, proclaimed ‘I have never seen anything so funny! The audience was in hysterics throughout’ (Montgomery 1968 : 268). Half a century later, it is difficult to imagine a contemporary audience having the same reaction. Although the work of

in Laughing matters
John Mundy and Glyn White

In this chapter we focus on the ways film and television comedy have presented gender and sexuality. These subjects cross over in more ways than one. Gender is an issue of difference and difference has continually proved difficult for human cultures to negotiate. Patriarchal culture, that is, society which is structured in order to give the male sex many advantages over the

in Laughing matters
John Mundy and Glyn White

called it ‘regurgitated drivel and crass cringe-worthy antagonistic rubbish’, while another said that ‘I was appalled by this programme. It was racist, sexist and completely abhorrent’ (Moss 2006 : 6). It was also, of course, a comedy spoof, written by and featuring Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, a parody of the phone-in programmes that have become a regular format within radio broadcasting. The

in Laughing matters
John Mundy and Glyn White

In chapter 1 we dealt primarily with solo male film comedians and in Chapter 2 we discussed male film comedy teams. ldentifying such star vehicles as a sub-genre of the comedy film, Steve Seidman named it ‘comedian comedy’ ( 1979 , 1981 , 2003 ). Such films, Stuart Kaminsky argues, are about ‘the human struggle to attain a satisfying role in

in Laughing matters
John Mundy and Glyn White

, where our moral, practical and rational concerns have a moratorium on their functioning’ ( 1981 : 28). If the context is right, comedy provides a vacation away from the intellectual and affective world we inhabit for most of our waking lives. Comedy presents a world full of contradictions, since it can be the voice of both the powerful and the weak, it can be simultaneously subversive and affirming

in Laughing matters
John Mundy and Glyn White

Depression following the 1929 Wall Street Crash. During the change over to sound production, studios had to make decisions about which types of film were going to be most enhanced by sound. The Jazz Singer (1927), a musical, launched a new genre entirely dependent on the new technology, but was sound necessary for all genres? Comedy was low on the list of priorities for conversion to sound partly because the

in Laughing matters
From bad taste to gross-out
John Mundy and Glyn White

Comedy raises issues around the politics of representation, about power, control and freedom of speech because, as Sharon Lockyer and Michael Pickering state: ‘Humour is only possible because certain boundaries, rules and taboos exist in the first place’ (2009: 16). The issues raised are often articulated through discussions about taste. Taste in this sense is about judgements

in Laughing matters