l.m.a.o pic #1

After reading James Agee’s “Comedy’s Greatest Era” I have to say I both agree and disagree with his statements. Let’s start with what I agree with; James mentions that comedians now in days tend to depend heavily on what they say more so than how they say it. Let me explain back in the 1900s when they had what was called “Silent Films” the comedians didn’t talk. The fact that they didn’t talk made it that much more important for the use of body language and expressions. So how can you make a joke without talking you might ask? Well back then they did a lot of what is known as gags. Gags are physical jokes; some of the most known gags I say would be the slipping on the banana peel gag, or even the pie in the face gag. In which were, as James Agee’s stated, first thrown thoughtfully then as innocent bystanders began to caught in the fire “every pie made its special kind of point and piled on its special kind of laugh”. That gag is still used to this day, usually found in sitcoms, and is known as a “classic”. Which I have no problem with; however I do disagree with Agee on his comment that “the only thing wrong with screen comedy today is that its takes place on a screen which talks”. Quite frankly I think that sound on films is one of the best things since sliced bread. Sound was first introduced to film in 1927 in a film called “The Jazz Singer” and I couldn’t be happier.

This last Thursday I was introduced to a film called “Bangville Police”; a silent film about a girl who thought robbers were on her, what I believe to be a, farm. The movie starts off with a little girl that’s wants a calf, at some point of time she sees these strange men and runs off to a room and calls for help. At any rate when help arrives it’s all a big misunderstanding and at the end the girl founds out a baby calf was born. Being mindful of the time frame I’ll give that the film was a little funny when it came to the misunderstanding, however I feel the movie took too long to get to the point. The fact that the film is silent makes it, in my opinion, that much harder to watch. For the first minute and a half I was lost. I thought the movie would be about a girl, her father, and maybe a calf. The other thing when it comes to a silent film is that you have to pay close attention to it, turn your head or blink just a second too long you could’ve missed the whole joke.

Agee makes a statement that comedians, such as those in the film mentioned above, couldn’t master sound films because they “cannot combine their comic style with talk”. With which I have no problem with, if they can’t do it then they can’t do it, but to say a film like “Africa Screams” of 1949 was a bad film just because of the fact that there is actually words coming out of the comedians’ mouth is preposterous. Agee seemed like the type to like to guess what’s going on, I’m the type that likes to know what’s going on. I think some of the best jokes are the ones that are, usually, called inside jokes. Inside, or thinker, jokes are jokes that not everyone would get, unless they have the background information to understand it. I don’t feel that whether or not a comedy film is bad should be judged by whether or not it has sound. I also don’t think that all silent films are bad, just different.

1)In your opinion, in general what makes someone funny?

2)What is your favorite comedy and why? What if that movie was made into a silent film, would it be as funny? Why or why not?

CT101 Digital Storytelling