BU Film School

Sunday, September 17, 2006

FT 553 Lecture: Tuesday, July 6

Definition/nature of black comedy
Author -- anger. Takes values of society, pushes to extremes. Keep audience away from emotional identification with characters. Black comedy - social essay. No good feeling or heartbreak, but social understanding that world is not worth anything, leading to horrible conflict.

Does not begin with hatred of humanity. Black comedy implies human intelligence should find solution to issues.

Author's voice protagonist of black comedy. Trustworthy characters all nuts. Author creates dialogue with audience. Film must have POV, a worldview.

Black comedy incredibly smart, incredibly angry, incredibly funny and incredibly nasty. Style is as important as content.

Reagan's quote at U.N. -- alien invasion would be uniting factor.

Comedy depends on foiled expectations. Black comedy depends on characters' humiliation (just desserts). Characters see world in purely dualistic terms - no shading, us vs. them. Paranoics' universe. Kept funny by author's parody, use of satire.

Characterization depends on other-directed worldview. Either all me or all other.

Conflict built into black comedy. Author's point of view is not equal to comedy's point of view (what most peo0ple think). Author a rebel. Author will reduce characters and society to ashes. Doesn't necessarily point to better way of life.

Techniques of black comedy
satire = poking fun at content (Troilus and Cressida satirizes Trojan War)
parody = poking fun at style (Troilus and Cressida's language parodies bombastic rhetoric)
irony = seeming to agree with someone, when you think the absolute opposite (survival mechanism). Dissembling, pretense of ignorance. Expressing one thing and meaning other (Antony's speech in "Julius Caesar").
sarcasm = bitter or wounding expression - taunt. Just above physical blow. Wounding.
mockery = derision or ridicule. Subject to laughter.

"Bob Roberts" satirizes American politics, parodies left-wing folk music.

Most important thing - author's seen in way he's actually not.

What to pay attention to
Pay attention to trickster character. In Swift, it's the American. In Troilus and Cressida, Thersites. In Dr. Strangelove, title character.

Pay attention to worldviews. Note how author imposes himself on form of work. How does s/he use irony, satire, parody, mockery and to what effect?

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I dont like to analyze comedy too much. funny is funny.

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