Let’s Talk Comedy

Comedy, it’s a funny thing innit?

Well, that’s kind of the the point, but what I mean is there’s comedy, and then there’s comedy. When you call a book or movie or show a comedy… what do you really mean?

I suppose the idea is true of all genres. Just saying something is science fiction could mean anything from The Expanse to Star Wars to Dragonriders of Pern.

(and trust me, that’s just a drop in the bucket sub-genre wise)

It’s kind of unfair, since if you’re trying to get someone interested in something, you don’t want to be reductive, but at the same time you don’t want to overexplain something, either.

If you tell someone a particular movie is a comedy, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Wild and zany like Airplane! or Scary Movie? Something a bit more grounded like Beverly Hills Cop or Bridget Jones’ Diary? A building farce like A Fish Called Wanda or What About Bob?

I’m sure I’m dating myself with these examples, but hopefully you get the idea.

I mean, I just looked up genres of comedy and there are even more than I realized. How many of these do you recognize?

Aggressive Humour, Alternative comedy, Anecdotal comedy, Anti-humour, Black comedy, Blue comedy, Burlesque, Character comedy, Cringe comedy, Deadpan, Heritage, Improv, Inside humour, Insult Comedy, Mockumentary, Comedy music, Observational comedy, Physical comedy, Prop comedy, Satire, Shock humor, Sitcom, Sketch, Spoof, Word play…

Whew! There were acutally a couple of other forms listed, but I don’t consider Ventriloquism comedy. Just creepy. (shudder)

But then you think about things that are funny but NOT called comedies. The 1999 classic (it is to me, dammit) The Mummy is very funny, but also a solid adventure story.

Contrast that with Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is also funny… but not in the same way or to the same degree.

But if you called The Mummy a comedy/adventure or an adventure/comedy, would that make you second guess watching it, or give you different expectations going in? Even on IMDB it’s listed only in the categories of Action, Adventure and Fantasy. Not Comedy.

The paradox for me is that while the comedy was one of the best parts of the movie, largely because of how it juxtaposed with the adventure, if it had been marketed that way it might have spoiled it because of the expectations it created. It was an adventure first, but the comedy was still a very strong presense.

This is why, when describing my Get Lost Saga, I don’t like to say that Lost Souls and Lost Cargo are comedies. Instead I tend to say they’re Sci-Fi adventures with a sense of humour. I want to be clear where the focus is. SF adventure first and foremost, but also funny, but not to the detriment of the adventure.

Do you reckon that’s the right approach? Or, if you’ve read either book, how would you describe them?

1 comment on “Let’s Talk ComedyAdd yours →

  1. I think you’ve hit it right with “Science Fiction with a sense of humor”. The situations, plots, and such are non-comedic (even with Trouble) and they could exist if you stripped out the humor elements. The core or spine or body of it is science fiction. It’s just a story whose body knows when to crack a joke. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *