Will mainstream awards shows ever give comedies the respect they deserve?

By | May 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm | 6 comments | Opinion, TV/Movies | Tags: , ,

Woody Allen: Our only hope?

Woody Allen: Our only hope?

In a recent article outlining what movies were the “talk of the festival” at Cannes this year, the Los Angeles Times mentioned Woody Allen’s comedy Midnight In Paris.

Reading this is strange as film festivals of such stature don’t normally give much credibility to comedies. Still, the post didn’t suggest that Allen’s new film would be up for the sought-after Palme D’Or. Even though it’s a Woody Allen film, it is still, at the end of the day, a comedy, which means it shouldn’t be taken as seriously a foreign drama. Right?

It’s not an absolute rule, but certainly there is a bias towards the dramatic when considering the “art of cinema.” Voters at the Cannes Film Festival or the Academy Awards are clearly less inclined to ever award a pure comedy top honors. Even at the most recent Academy Awards, The Kids Are All Right, was up for best picture, but, with several dramatic elements throughout the film, it isn’t a straight comedy. Films that are “laugh out loud funny” are, in a way, looked down upon in regards to their artistic merit, though they are just as difficult, if not more so, to create.

With a comedic film, one has to inspire laughter, an actual physical response, from an audience. That’s a clear standard, though still subjective, which one can judge a comedy by. With a drama, the filmmakers have greater license to explore the life of the characters, the world of the story, and go off on tangents that really don’t accomplish anything other than a moment of existential reflection. There doesn’t have to be sobs or gasps or crying from an audience to necessarily indicate the quality of a drama. This difference is hardly, if ever, acknowledged.

No matter how much Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s Bridesmaids or the upcoming, highly anticipated Hangover: Part II will make people laugh, they will not be taken as seriously as any period piece released this fall. Will this dynamic ever change? Has there not been a comedy released worthy of such distinction? Is laughing just too vulgar to be included in the arts?

Give your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author

Jake Kroeger

Jake Kroeger has dedicated his life, for better or probably worse, to comedy. Starting and continually running the Comedy Bureau, a voice for LA comedy, by himself, he also writes and performs stand-up comedy in LA and watches more live comedy than is probably humanly tolerable. He's been a daily contributor to Punchline Magazine, now Laughspin.com because he loves and believes in comedy so much. Said of Kroeger, "...without his dangerously insane, unhealthy work ethic, certain comics would not have any press at all."

  • DesertFan

    Dramas demand more from those who play in them and have a stronger impact on moviegoers than comedies. It’s much more difficult to play a role in which a character goes through troubles and conflicts of various sorts, than it is to simply go about being a clown.

  • Evan

    I’m sorry but that comment is wrong. Have a nice day.

  • Tyler

    Virtually every actor who does drama and comedy says that comedy is harder. I believe them.

  • http://twitter.com/joannabookworm Joanna Bookworm

    A poorly made drama is laughable, but a poorly made comedy never made anyone cry… except maybe the people involved w.

    Comedy is something bad, awkward or uncomfortable happening to someone else.

  • http://twitter.com/joannabookworm Joanna Bookworm

    A poorly made drama is laughable, but a poorly made comedy never made anyone cry… except maybe the people involved with the audience and critical rejection.

    Comedy is watching something bad, awkward or, at least, unexpected happen to someone else.

    The arc of a comedy movie, in its mere approximate 90 minutes, can span days, years and even eons. Most people don’t know other people who can generate that much humor, especially under dire circumstances. I wonder if this invokes a greater suspension of disbelief in viewers and they unfairly prejudge comedies as brain candy (thank you, KITH) or somewhere on the path to Sci-Fi.

    The rare Oscar winning comedies, It Happened One Night (1934), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), Going My Way (1944), Tom Jones (1963), The Sting (1973), and Annie Hall (1977) share broad production value and a transport into each respective human predicament.

    Maybe this is something to look into further when making a comedy film?

  • http://www.hellodylanwise.com Dylan

    There’s always the Razzies.