The Age of the Jokeless Comedy

I read an interesting article the other day: ‘The Hangover’ and the age of the jokeless comedy.

This is a subject I’ve been wondering about for a while. When we first watched The Hangover, what I originally said about it back then was “I’m not sure whether it’s a difference between British and American humour, there just didn’t really seem to be any jokes in it!”. Well I’m glad someone else has picked up on this!

Now there are some points in the article which I disagree on. For example, it cites ‘Zoolander’ as one of the inaugural jokeless comedies. I love Zoolander and I think it’s a great film, but it’s definitely not a jokeless comedy. It’s true that the comedy is probably more based on character rather than gags, but there are still jokes in it. And the characters are genuinely funny, rather than … well, weird.

But it did get me thinking – when was the last time I saw a genuinely funny Hollywood film? And, you know, I actually can’t remember. We watched “The Other Guys” at the weekend, which is a light-hearted funny film… but at the same time, it suffers from what I call “Anchorman syndrome”: the characters were so bizarre some of the time it was difficult to identify with them. There were some funny moments but most of the time I was just left staring at characters doing something really bizarre and / or stupid that was clearly meant to be funny, but just… well, wasn’t.

The strange thing is, there have been “jokeless comedies” around for years. For example, The Ladykillers – classic Ealing film – hilarious. But the humour, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away here, all comes from a group of criminals trying to kill a little old lady. There’s even a tea party they have to attend and chat to the little old ladies’ friends… it’s genius.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I agree with the conclusion of that article: we need some more actual comedies, with proper gags. It’s been far too long since Hollywood did anything really funny.

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