Friday, January 27, 2012

I make laugh. I genius.

Gotta give a shout out to ma Bridesmaids ladies! Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo got an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay and Melissa McCarthy for Actress in a Supporting Role. This is truly momentous given that the movie is a comedy. Oscar doesn't generally like comedies, and seldom are they nominated for much of anything.

There are, of course, a few standouts. Little Miss Sunshine won Best Picture, as did Alan Arkin for his unforgettable supporting role in that same movie. Diablo Cody won Best Original Screenplay for Juno (it would have been a crime if she hadn't - it's one of the most finely written comedies, ever).

For some reason, Oscar thinks comedy is ghetto, a lesser version of drama. I beg to differ. As a writer of comedies for the stage, I can tell you it's much easier to write drama than it is to write a good comedy - the key word here being "good". It's easy to write shit. But quality comedy is not for the faint of heart. 

There are so many nuances of funny, and knowing how to layer them to get the most bang for your buck is very challenging. Writing comedy is not merely about writing jokes or one liners. It's finding humour where you least expect it, and requires an in-depth knowledge of language and how to use it. Californication is a great example of this. On the surface, this show could easily be dismissed as soft porn but if you really listen to the dialogue, it's sublime - some of the best writing on television.

Aptly performing comedy, I would argue, is also more difficult than portraying a dramatic role. People can be made to cry easily through blatant emotional manipulation but making them laugh out loud, from the gut, now that is an accomplishment. In Little Miss Sunshine, the ensemble cast was outstanding, and the defective van horn comedic genius.

Shitting yourself on a city street in a wedding gown is also genius, in the sense that the writers of Bridesmaids didn't shy away from being gross or honest about how women really feel. It was funny because it was true. 

That being said, I recently found out that Hangover 3 is now in the works. I just feel embarrassed for the cast of this movie, its stars now demanding salary hikes for the third installment. They're completely ruining what was originally a very funny concept. Another sign of good comedic writers: they know when to quit and move on to another story. They recognize when they've written an absolute gem and don't try to tarnish it with lesser versions of the same thing.

Sure, I'm aware screenwriters are probably offered shitloads of money to write sequels to very successful movies but, as a writer, I wouldn't want a crap sequel on my résumé. 

Here's hoping Oscar loved Bridesmaids enough to bestow its golden beauty upon it and further legitimize comedy as an art form.


The Tom said...

"Aptly performing comedy, I would argue, is also more difficult than portraying a dramatic role"
I have been a working actor for a really long time and I must say.
You are correct. Spot on.
great Blog

Sassy Stylings said...

Thanks Tom. It's nice to know I'm not totally out to lunch on this.


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