Screaming to Laughing
Why do we laugh?
• Right now...brainstorm what makes you
laugh from a slight smirk to a belly laugh
where you can’t breathe you are laughing
so hard.
Why do we laugh?
• Endorphin surge that increases energy
levels, boosts mood, and decreases aches
and pains.
• Important way of coping with everyday
• Defined by age, culture and personal taste
5 Essential Components of Humor
1. Social play – interpersonal activity; rarely
laugh when not with others; shared
2. Cognitive Incongruity – play creatively
with logic; headed toward one conclusion
and then veer off which causes
discomfort which causes laughs; anxiety
and discomfort equals potty humor
5 Essential Components of Humor
3. Positive Emotion – Unleashes a series of
positive feelings
4. Laughter – contagious expression
5. No joke – jokes only make a small
percentage of what makes us laugh;
usually spontaneous interaction
Can humor be translated?
Comedy Best Practices
1. Dialogue/characters – interaction, verbalvolleys, one-liners
2. Gags –
> visual (falls, props, expressions)
> verbal (quick punchlines)
3. Situations – cast thrown into impossible,
ludicrous situations and muddle through.
4. Timing – brief pauses after comic moment
stops plot from moving on while audience busy
Comedy as Genre
• Oldest genre
1. Slapstick – visual gags, no need for sound so
a major component of silents
2. Fish out of water – characters in unusual
3. Parody or spoof – mocks other genres or
classic films
4. Anarchic – random or stream of consciousness
5. Gross out – relies on vulgar humor
6. Romantic comedy – development of
relationship between man and woman
Comedic Taglines
Films: Liar Liar
Snow Day
Analyze This
First Wives’ Club
Dumb and Dumber
New York’s most powerful gangster is about to
get in touch with his feelings. YOU tell him his
50 minutes are up.
Don’t get mad. Get everything.
Trust me.
For Harry and Lloyd everyday is a no-brainer.
Roads closed. Schools shut. Rules were
meant to be broken.
Match the Phobia to the Fear
1. The number 13
2. The dark
3. Thunder and lightning
4. Germs or dirt
5. Injections or needles
6. Heights
7. Closed spaces
8. Spiders
9. Snakes
10. Dogs
11. Having a disease
12. Flying
13. Situations where escape is
Fear and Laughter
• Why might a director/screenwriter want to
blend horror and comedy?
• What examples of this are you familiar
Robin Williams
• Fusing your observations from One Hour
Photo, the Top 10 Robin Williams
Performances from, and
any film that you have seen in which
Williams performed:
• Evaluate Williams skills as a master actor
who will continue to be studied.
Kings of Silent Comedy
• Create a tri-fold with a sheet of looseleaf.
• Label one column Keaton; another Lloyd;
another Chaplin
• As we watch excerpts from their films, take
notes about Theatrical Elements that you
notice about each.
BW: Socking it to The Man
• Lloyd, Chaplin, and Keaton all play harmless
characters. However, they all end up evading
the law which is portrayed as bumbling and
ineffective. We laugh at their escapes from
• Why? What message perhaps are these artists
attempting to deliver? Can you make any
connections to modern film or television (you
can expand your thinking beyond the law as
Bizarro Triple Bubble Map
• Let’s boldly go where no man has gone
• Make a Triple Bubble Map featuring Lloyd,
Keaton, and Chaplin.
• You can use the notes from the articles
about these men as well.
• Is defined as
- “a boisterous form of comedy marked by
chases, collisions, and crude jokes”
- “comedy characterized by horseplay and
physical action”
• Is this why we laugh at our 3 kings of silent
• What cinematic and theatrical elements
are necessary to create slapstick?
Power Comedy Duos, Trios and
• Physical and emotional differences that
make them foils for each other.
• Fool and straight man.
• Play off of one another.
• Frustration.
• Ridiculousness.
Laurel and Hardy
• What about them made you giggle
• What did you find frustrating?
• What theatrical and cinematic elements
did you notice?
Laurel & Hardy
Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
100+ films
Successful silents to sounds
Physical differences
Abbott & Costello
Bud Abbott & Lou Costello
Stage, radio, film, tv
36 films
‘40s-’50s – broke at end
Slapstick; physical/emotional differences
“Who’s on first?” – inducted into the
Baseball Hall of Fame
The Three Stooges
• Moe, Larry, and Curly…and sometimes
• ‘30s-’70s
• 220 films; 190 shorts
• Vaudeville, stage, film, tv, cartoons
• Physical farce and slapstick
• Love or hate…no in between
• “Why I oughta…” and “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”
The Marx Brothers
• ‘05-’49
• 13 feature films
• Vaudeville, stage, film – all accomplished
• 3 brothers at core: Groucho (greasepaint
mustache, stooped walk, cigar, snappy
punchlines); Harpo (mute, fright wig, taxi horn,
whistles, all impulse); Chico (fake Italian accent,
con-man with a heart)
• Two of their films have made the AFI top 100 list
Comedy Pioneers Assignment
• Using all of your notes and working with a
partner, create a document that
incorporates your thoughts on these
gentlemen and the cinematic and
theatrical elements they employed.
Compare and contrast their styles.
BW: Slapstick and World History
• Greeks & Romans had
heavily padded clowns
who beat each other with
• Commedia dell’arte
(Italian Renaissance)
featured Harlequin who
used a slapstick to paddle
his “victims”.
• Punch & Judy (English
puppet show) featured a
husband and wife who
beat each other with
• Okay, that’s interesting
and disturbing.
• So, my question is why?
• Why are we so amused
by people hitting each
other? (Try to come up
with something besides
the obvious that humans
are disturbed.)
• Do we see this in film
• Do we see this in the
• How does Marshall, the director, combine
best practices of horror and comedy in the
• Which genre is stronger in the film or are
they treated equally?
• If you were creating a horror/comedy mix
about a phobia, what phobia would it be
and why?
BW: Creating Slapstick
• Choose a prop or situation below and
explain how it could be turned into a
slapstick routine:
principal’s office
going to library
eating in cafeteria
BW: Gross out as a sub-genre
• Regarding gross out comedy, I keep
referring to it as “lowest common
denominator” humor.
• What do I mean by that? Do you agree?
Why does it makes us laugh? Does it ever
make us uncomfortable?
BW: Noting the tiny details
• What type of business was the speakeasy
(illegal bar during Prohibition) located in
• What was the owner of the business’s
• What’s funny about his name?
BW: Stereotypes for Comic Relief
• How are gangsters stereotyped in Some
Like It Hot?
• For that matter, how is the reputation of
male musicians stereotyped in the film?
• How do stereotypes contribute to comedy?
Some Like It Hot Reflection
• You will now write a reflection on Some Like It Hot
• Requirements:
1. Quote a line from the Some Like It Hot review and
explain why you agree or disagree with the line.
2. Identify 1-3 comedy best practice(s) that you observed.
You could also mention sub-genre elements you noted.
3. Identify 2-4 examples of cinematic and theatrical
elements that you noted. Explain why you think Wilder
made these choices.
4. Give your basic impression of the film
• Due tomorrow
• Focus on: Ideas (support); word choice (film vocab)
BW: Halloween Themes
• Number 1-5
• Once the bell rings, I am going to play 5
theme songs dealing with Halloween.
• Write down the film or tv show you think it
goes with.
• Extra credit for correct answers…don’t
Comedy & Coincidence
• Explain briefly how comedy relies on
coincidence to create humor.
Rom Com
• Based on your experience, what are some
typical elements of a Rom Com or
Romantic Comedy?
• How are these elements being played out
in Moonstruck?
Moonstruck - Nonreflection
Discuss the following (order unimportant):
Loretta’s transformation using theatrical elements.
Symbolic value of the moon – cinematic elements?
Significance of director’s choice of cutting between
parallel stories
Film’s commentary about love – consider the different
ages, relationships, etc.
How does culture impact the film’s message, humor
Pick a quote from the review to agree or disagree with.
Ferris Quotes
“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop
and look around once in a while, you
could miss it.”
1. If you have seen Ferris Bueller’s Day off,
explain how this quote typifies Ferris’
outlook on life.
2. If you have not seen the film, what
inferences can you make about Ferris
based on this quote?
More Ferris Quotes
Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250GI California.
Less than a hundred were made. My father
spent three years restoring this car. It is his
love; it is his passion.
• Ferris: It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.
1. What is funny about these lines?
2. What is sad about these lines?
3. Why mix comic and tragic?
A last quote…from Cameron
• I am not going to sit on my ass as the
events that affect me unfold to determine
the course of my life. I’m going to defend
it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.
• How has Cameron grown throughout the
film? In what way has Ferris been
responsible for this grow? Does it excuse
Ferris’ abuse of the friendship?
Woody Allen Quote #1
• “I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was
either in love or I had small pox.” Annie
Hall (1977)
• Write the quote. What do you think of this
person’s attitude toward falling in love or
emotions in general?
Woody Allen Need to Know
1. Self-depricating humor
2. “Schtick”: fumble w/glasses; gulp in faux-terror;
deliver lethal one-liners
3. Quintessential New Yorker – full of neuroses,
self-doubt and psychoanalysis
4. Understand people, obsessions, hopes,
5. Setting: New York w/diverse characters; recent
years settings have moved to Europe
W.A. Need to Know
1. Likes actors to improv in movies
2. Humor in words, actions…some slapstick but
not in your face. Sexual humor but not vulgar
3. Uses same actors in multiple films
4. Awards meaningless to him (People think I’m
an intellectual because I wear glasses and I’m
an artist because my films lose money)
5. Scandal has touched his life
Setting the Scene
• List some facts you
know about the
- Paris
- Ernest Hemingway
- Picasso
- Ezra Pound
- Josephine Baker
- Gertrude Stein
- T.S. Eliot
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
• If the list leaves you
overwhelmed, answer
• If I could go back in
time, I would…
Conjuring the Past
1. What triggers the magic time travel in
Midnight in Paris?
2. What genre of storytelling is Allen
alluding to with this trigger?
Comedic Actors
Jonah Hill
Jason Segal
Paul Rudd
Steve Carrell
Jim Carrey
Adam Sandler
Russell Brand
Kevin James
• This list of actors
represents current
successful comedic
• What makes them
• Who should not be on
this list?
• Who is missing?
Funny Ladies
Tina Fey
Emma Stone
Melissa McCarthy
Jennifer Aniston
Kristen Wiig
Cameron Diaz
Rashida Jones
Jane Lynch
• Now, these are the
top funny ladies
according to several
• Why?
• Who should not be
• Who should take their
Back to the Future
• This movie was made in 1985…yikes, 28
years ago.
• What theatrical elements would need to be
changed if Marty was living in 2013 and
was Deloreaned back to 1985?
Time Travel
• Why do you believe that time travel has
occupied human curiosity for so long?
(H.G. Wells, The Time Machine; Michael
Crichton, Timeline)