Laughs Of The Decades: A History Of Comedy In Film

Comedy has always been not only one of our most popular forms of entertainment, but has also acted as a vehicle for social and cultural commentary, a reflection of the good and bad in society, and a way for individuals to diffuse the hardships of existence with an hour or so of uninhibited laughter.

The subversive nature of comedy can be traced all the way back to some of its earliest stars. Charlie Chaplain became well-known for his outspoken political views. Indeed, he paid a steep price for this, as his political views were seen by many as radical at the time, leading to his eventual exile from the U.S. Though he eventually re-entered the country to be honored at the Academy Awards in 1972, the controversy permanently damaged his relationship with the nation.

The power of comedy didn’t buckle to societal pressures. With the 60s emerged a revitalized interest in the incorporation of social and political commentary into comedic film. It became commonplace for films to incorporate sensitive social and cultural issues, using comedy to make statements about them. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, parodied the Cold War mindset of the time, pointing out the absurdity of the concept of mutually assured destruction, bringing us memorable one-liners like “No fighting in the war room!” Similarly, The Graduate commented on the rapidly changing sexual attitudes of the time, presenting sexuality in a groundbreaking and up-front manner that was considered incredibly provocative at the time.

Social and cultural subversiveness in film carried on into the 1970s, with films such as  Catch-22, which continued to communicate an anti-war message. The lampoons of satirical film extended beyond just social and cultural concepts, but to other films, with the advent of parody. Directors such as Mel Brooks helped pioneer the parody genre of film, releasing films such as Young Frankenstein.  

The premiere of Saturday Night Live in 1975 was a pivotal moment in the comedy industry, bringing the subversive ideals of comedy film to television. Simultaneously, numerous new faces entered the realm of standup comedy. Eventually, comedians such as Richard Pryor, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Steve Martin and many more who found there start in stand-up and on SNL would go on to prosper in the film industry, spawning such classics as Animal House, Harlem Nights, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, The Jerk, and numerous others.

The parody genre went on to spawn other highly influential parodies, such as the 1980 disaster film spoof, Airplane!, which is considered by many to be the quintessential, fast-paced gag and spoof-based film. As the 80s carried on, however, comedy began to evolve drastically.

The 1990s saw a continued evolution of the comedy genre, with a renewed interest in romantic comedies. Films such as When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle helped usher in a new wave of films which incorporated both romantic and comedic elements.

Comedy today is much different than it once was. Like any other art form, it evolves with time. 2001’s Zoolander was a fan-favorite, and developed a cult following, but its release, only weeks following the tragic attacks of 9/11, severely impacted its commercial success. In some ways, Zoolander can be seen as a bookend to an era of comedy film known as “joke-based comedy.” Films such as The Hangover and I Love You Man, pioneered a different approach to comedy, deriving humor from the journeys of characters, and plot-driven, relatable situations.

What’s in store next for this pivotal genre of entertainment? Will the new era of jokeless comedy continue define the genre? Will we get something entirely new? Only time will tell…

______________________________________________________________

Check out classic comedies at the Media and Reserve Services! Dr. Strangelove, Zoolander, and many many more are available now!

Star Wars Episode 7: A New Star Wars

In case anyone’s been encased in carbonite for the past few years, there’s a new Star Wars film headed our way, with J.J. Abrams at the helm. After years and years and years of “Hells to the no” from George Lucas, regarding the possibility of further Star Wars films, we received a singular “Ehhh, maybe.” And with that “Ehhh, maybe.”, a whole new era was born.

Folks, we’re not dealing with just one new Star Wars movie here. We’re not even dealing with three. We’re talking five confirmed films, likely more, an animated TV movie and series, and possibly a live action TV series. They’re putting a lot of eggs in this basket, and who can blame them? With all the money, mind-blowing visual effects, and A-list casting that will undoubtedly go into the revival of this beloved franchise, how could anything possibly go wrong?

Why stop there? This is Disney we’re talking about The bar is set a little bit higher in this case, and we here at Media Beat step in to take some of the workload off our friends at the Walt Disney Company, with some ideas of our own as to how best to make the most of the Star Wars franchise.

Wookie Sitcom

Look, who doesn’t love Wookies? No one, that’s who. Chewbacca’s a good guy! He deserves someone special. A beautiful wife. A family. A couple of kids, a house in the suburbs!

FULL-HOUSE

We think the day-to-day life of good ol’ Chewey trying to adapt to family life would be just plain ol’ wacky! Good fun for the whole family, we think.

The Late Show with Yoda

Letterman’s recent announcement of his retirement has us all asking who could take up the much-coveted position as host of The Late Show. The entertainment world is buzzing with chatter regarding the supposed front runners, but as usual, the gossip is way off base. Stephen Colbert? Puh-lease. Chelsea Handler? NEXT! Jon Stewart. Oh, you slay me, internet!

YodaLetterman

When will those suits at CBS gonna just cut to the chance? We all know the clearcut heir to the Late Show throne is none other than our pint-sized Jedi Master, Yoda. We all know that doing voice-work for animated versions of himself is a heinous under-utilization of his many talents. He’s certainly not one to buckle to the pressures of late night television hosting, because as we all know, “Fear is the path to the dark side.” And there are plenty of taglines already written for advertising! Just read his quotes! “Size matters not!” I can already see the billboards.

Darth Vader Standup Special

Look, folks. We all give Darth Vader too much flak. The guy’s got feelings, and I think we tend to forget that. And man, oh man. You think the guy doesn’t already have enough on his plate without all our yappin’ at him to stop killin’ people and blowing stuff up?

At the end of the day, Vader’s just a normal guy like the rest of us. And even the most droll, boring galactic dictatorships have those little moments that we just gotta chuckle about. And what better way is there to achieve that goal than for Vader to take to the mic!

vaderonstage

The jokes practically write themselves! “So what’s the deal with the way people always get all weird at you when you obliterate their home planet!?” Hilarious!!

Any Disney executives looking to develop any of these ideas should contact us via the comment section under this post. We look forward to hearing from you.

______________________________________________

Star Wars Episode 7 is hitting theaters in December 2015! For now, be sure to check out all the cool Star Wars media we have right here in the Media and Reserve Services!

Correction: “Home planet” was erroneously misspelled as “home plant” in the original posting of this entry. I apologize for this error, and want to make it clear that Darth Vader’s agenda has always been, and will remain, 100% pro-home plant. I think he even has a few ferns in his office. See? I told you he was a normal guy.

Correction: I have been received complaint letters from several home plants complaining that the ferns in Darth Vader’s office do not qualify as “home plants”, and that their location in his office renders them effectively “office plants.” I apologize profusely for this error.

The Magic Of Food Brings Back Jack

Warning. Spoilers are found in the post below. They’re mostly for the 8th season of 24 which aired like four years ago, so there’s almost no reason to put a spoiler warning here, but as someone once probably told me, “You never know in life.”, so to all the people who are four years behind on their television-watching, I hereby alert thee to spoilers. By the way, TV-watching is probably the only thing you can get away with being four years behind on, so don’t push your luck. Are you four years behind on your laundry, too? Gross.

24-Live-Another-Day-logo

Continue reading “The Magic Of Food Brings Back Jack”

House Of Cards Season 2: What Now?

Warning. This post contains extensive spoilers for House of Cards Season 2, so probably don’t read on if you are currently in the process of watching it, plan on watching it, might get into that show some day, or aren’t planning on watching it but tend to change your mind on things a lot. However, if you’ve seen the season or you just enjoy the time-honored practice of experiencing television backwards, by starting with spoilers of the latest season, and ending by watching the series premiere with the back of your head, read on.

kevinspacey_2467872b

The rib-munching mad-man we love to hate, Frank Underwood does his signature class ring knock-on-wood right onto the desk in the Oval Office, and the screen cuts to black.

Continue reading “House Of Cards Season 2: What Now?”

Announcing our Spring 2014 film series, Laughs of the Decades!

Hey y’all! Any comedy fans out there? Well drop on by E174, and check out our Spring 2014 film series, Laughs of the Decades! We’re journeying through decades of historic comedy, with five classic films.

Dr._StrangeloveDr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – This 1964 Stanley Kubrick classic, starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, presents a satirical view of Cold War tension and the nature of the theory of mutually assured destruction. Catch it not only for some laughs, but for a unique history lesson!

animal-houseAnimal House – Chronicling experiences that are likely familiar to those of our very own IU Hoosiers, this 1978 laugh-out-loud comedy chronicles the adventures of a misfit group of college students at Faber University’s Delta fraternity, as they evade the watchful eye of their arch enemy Dean Wormer. This all-time classic features SNL star John Belushi in one of his most memorable roles.

airplane-1980-leslie-nielsenAirplane! – This 1980 flick takes a satirical look at 1970s disaster films. Packed with slapstick gags, the film stars Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty and Leslie Nielsen as they attempt to save a flight full of endangered passengers from certain doom!

large theres something about mary blu-ray2There’s Something About Mary – Ben Stiller, Mat Dillon and Cameron Diaz star in this influential romantic comedy. Stiller plays an awkward high school student who has a run-in with misfortune at his prom. Many years later he seeks to reconnect with his date, Mary, and hilarity ensues!

TThe Big Lebowski – This cult classic follows protagonist The Dude as he’s tasked by millionaire Jeffery Lebowski to help rescue his kidnapped wife by delivering a ransom. The Dude’s friend Walter, however, has other plans, and a series of adventures play out!

 

Where!? Wells E174!

Dates and Times

Dr. Strangelove – Fri, March 7th, 7:30 PM

Animal House – Wed, March 12th, 8:00 PM

Airplane! – Fri, March 28th, 7:30 PM

There’s Something About Mary – Fri, April 4th, 7:30 PM

The Big Lebowksi – Fri, April 11th, 7:00 PM

 

Free refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you all there!