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.
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.
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. In this book I would like to
suggest the limitations of this conceptualisation and propose 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
director with this genre and, consequently, to take the films’
genericity more or less for granted in order to concentrate on auteurist,
psychoanalytic, feminist or philosophical issues which made the artist truly
great or, at least, interesting from a cultural standpoint.
More recently, however, considerations of a greater generic
variety have gradually begun to emerge in writings on Hitchcock, and the
presence of comedy and
The history of romantic comedy in
Hollywood has been seen as a series of popular cycles followed by periods of
dearth or, at least, transitions in between peaks. While, as I have argued
in this book, there is much more to the genre than has been included in
previous accounts, there is no denying that romantic comedy, perhaps more
than other genres, has had its ups and downs in the last century or so. The
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
Genre, cycles and critical traditions
Hollywood romantic comedy
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934).
Courtesy of Columbia Tristar.
27/4/06, 8:37 AM
Hollywood romantic comedy
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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