Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Define "funny"

Last night I watched "The Office". Their ads proclaim it a "hit new comedy". I saw about 10 minutes of it awhile back and it struck me pretty much the same way "Survivor" and it's 2nd clone did, bland lame (in fact they may define "bland lame") attempts at something (even they're not sure what they're trying to do). This time I saw it all the way through and it struck me the same way "Beavis and Butthead" did. I watched two episodes of that a few years ago and laughed (hard) once. The rest of it was stupid crap.

And while this wasn't stupid crap, I wasn't impressed at all (it was more "pointless crap"). The technique where the characters are talking to the camera ala reality show contestants was funny in spots but as a means to "hear" what the characters are thinking I really don't like it because it reminds me of reality shows I think are idiotic/stupid. I'm even less impressed with Steve Carell as a comedy centerpeice than I was with Will Farrell (I don't much like him and if I see he's in something that's a mark against - however I've never really seen him in anything, the promos with him usually turn me off). At least when I finally saw Adam Sandler I thought he was talented (and moderately funny), if his promos usually turned me off his work too. He may very well be talented but because his character is so freaking annoying I can't even love to hate him. He's just stupid.

There were a few parts which were pretty damn funny but overall many of the characters are mean and petty and why should I watch that? Don't most of us (I know I do) have enough mean petty people they are forced by life to deal with? Why would we want to watch them on TV? During the little bit of time we try to escape our lives. I know if I worked for that moron I'd be seriously considering a "tragic accident in the parking lot". I read Dilbert daily, I don't need to watch the PHB (pointy haired boss) on TV too!

And there are better techniques, I think, to show us what the characters are thinking. I've seen a few episodes of "The War at Home" and while I don't think it's very good (it's moderately funny but the parents are self-centered idiots and the kids are mostly little thugs), the technique of the actor standing in a white room explaining why or what they're thinking works moderately well. In fact most of the funny of that show comes from that technique.

But I was thinking this morning what "funny" was and how hard it would be for any of us to define it. We know it when we come across it, but doing it on purpose is hard. I know I'm funny some of the time and I realize now that I'm older that how much time I really am funny is a lot less than the time I *think* I'm funny and part of the trick of funny is to keep your mouth shut until you *are* funny. Timing I guess. In comedy, timing is everything. And a quick mind gets you to good timing quicker than most anything else. I see Matt trying to define himself and one of the things he's trying to use is comedy. A funny joke five minutes late is almost never funny.

So perhaps "Funny" is like the bestest, fastest melting desert treat in the world. When it comes out on time it's fabulous, nearly nothing is better. When it's a few minutes late it's painful.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if you are funny, but no one laughs...is it still funny?

Kind of like the tree falling in the forest and no one hearing,thing.

13:28  
Anonymous Aaron said...

The Office is just the latest in a string of crappy American redos of good British shows. See also,
Coupling
Changing Rooms (Renamed Trading Spaces)
What Not to Wear

If your cable company carries BBCAmerica you can check out the originals. We really enjoy them

07:36  
Blogger banzai said...

Well if the woods are empty and you still laugh then I think you *are* funny.

You're entertaining yourself at least and that's a useful skill! ;-P

11:10  
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