Since Aristotle, there has been ‘a
long history of criticism that has viewed comedy as inferior to other genres
in Western culture’ (Horton 1991 : 2). Within
the French film industry, the critical denigration of genre cinema, the
dominance of a realist aesthetic and the lasting influence of la
politique des auteurs (see chapter 1 ) have all
contributed to the neglect of comedy. This is in spite
The TV debut of Vic Reeves Big Night Out on Channel 4 in 1990 is often seen as marking a turning point for British TV Comedy, ushering in what is often characterised as the ‘post-alternative’ era. The 1990s would produce acclaimed series such as Father Ted, The League of Gentlemen and The Fast Show, while the new century would produce such notable shows as The Mighty Boosh, The Office and Psychoville. However, while these shows enjoy the status of ‘cult classics’, comparatively few of them have received scholarly attention. This book is the first sustained critical analysis of the ‘post-alternative’ era, from 1990 to the present day. It examines post-alternative comedy as a form of both ‘Cult’ and ‘Quality’ TV, programmes that mostly target niche audiences and possess a subcultural aura – in the early 90s, comedy was famously declared ‘the new rock’n’roll’. It places these developments within a variety of cultural and institutional contexts and examines a range of comic forms, from sitcom to sketch shows and ‘mock TV’ formats. It includes case studies of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and the sitcom writer Graham LInehan. It examines developments in sketch shows and the emergence of ‘dark’ and ‘cringe’ comedy, and considers the politics of ‘offence’ during a period in which Brass Eye, ‘Sachsgate’ and Frankie Boyle provoked different kinds of media outrage. Cult British TV Comedy will be of interest to both students and fans of modern TV comedy.
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
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
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
Humour can be theorised as integral to the genre even if there are some films that do not provoke laughter. Romantic comedy has been described as a narrative of the heterosexual couple with a happy ending in which humour does not necessarily play an important part. The comic, protective, erotically-charged space is the space of romantic comedy. This book proposes a revised theory of romantic comedy and then tests its validity through the analysis of texts, but these films must not be expected to fully embody the theory. It proposes a change of approach in two different but closely linked directions. On the one hand, a comic perspective is a fundamental ingredient of what we understand by romantic comedy; on the other, the genre does not have a specific ideology but, more broadly, it deals with the themes of love and romance, intimacy and friendship, sexual choice and orientation. The book discusses two films directed by two of the most prestigious figures in the history of Hollywood comedy: Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be became part of the canon as one of the most brilliant comedies in the history of Hollywood in so far as its romantic comedy elements remained invisible. Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid was almost universally rejected because its satire was too base, too obscene, too vulgar. Discussing Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window and Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, the book attempts to move beyond the borders of comedy.
Hollywood romantic comedy inevitably ends with the union of a heterosexual couple. But does this union inevitably involve marriage? What part does equality play? Are love and desire identical? This book explores the genre's changing representation of the couple, focusing on marriage, equality and desire in screwball comedy, career woman comedy and sex comedy. The shifting discourses around heterosexuality, gender, romance and love are considered in relation to such socio-historical transformations as the emergence of companionate marriage, war-time gender roles and the impact of post-war consumerism. Going well beyond the usual screwball territory, the book provides an understanding of the functions of conventions such as masquerade, gender inversion and the happy ending. This is complemented by a distinctive focus on individual films and their star couples, including detailed discussion of Myrna Loy and William Powell, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The book offers foundational explanations of genre and an analysis of cycles and films.
conventions of comedy rather than tragedy through
their happy endings: hence, one might also call these miniature dramas divine
The generic contexts associated with drama are further reflected
in the form of the sonnet itself. Donne’s Holy Sonnets mostly end happily
(or with a positive outlook, e.g. Holy Sonnet ‘Batter my Heart’), either in that
the speaker finds grace, a way towards redemption, or in that death is overcome
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 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