Your Voices: On the State of the Comedy Genre

Your Voices

Your Voices is a simple concept created to encourage conversation and opinions between movie lovers. It works like this: I throw out a certain topic. After that I’ll make my case or share my opinions. Then it’s time for Your Voices. Head to the comments section and let fellow readers and moviegoers know your thoughts on the topic for that day!

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I harp on this ad nauseam but I just can’t help it. I’m a big fan of the comedy genre. I mean who doesn’t love the chance to kick back and enjoy some good laughs? Dating all the way back to the great comedians of the silent movie era, comedies have always had a strong footing in the world of cinema. But to me that footing has grown more unsure over the past several years. In fact it saddens me to say that I rarely watch modern comedies and there are a variety of reasons.

Modern comedies mainly consist of the amateurish Adam Sandler kind of slop to the raunchy, vulgar crap that we seem to get every single month. Sparsely scattered between these films are the rare smart and original comedies that are becoming fewer and farther between. Apparently there is a market for what is being put out there. Take Sandler for example. His movies routinely do well at the box office. They are also routinely awful. And then there are the raunchy comedies which seem to come out regularly in one form or another. Obviously that means there are a lot of people who like it. Personally I’ve never found vulgarity and raunch to be funny. So my choices in today’s comedy genre are pretty limited.
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YOUR VOICES: What are your thoughts on the state of the comedy genre?

So now it’s time for Your Voices. What do think about the comedies that come out these days? Do you share the same annoyances I do? Are you a fan of where things stand? Please head to the comments section and let Your Voices be heard.

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19 thoughts on “Your Voices: On the State of the Comedy Genre

  1. I think comedies are in much the same state as any other genre. There are more than a few that pander to the lowest common denominator, that think shocking is akin to hilarious, that are nigh unwatchable (we need look no further than the upcoming Bad Grandpa or the colossal flop The Big Wedding).

    Yet, there are also more than a few terrific options. Last year we were privileged with top notch comedies like Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Safety Guaranteed, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, and Friends with Kids, in addition to several others.

    The same is true this year. The Heat, The Way, Way Back, The World’s End, This Is The End, Instructions Not Included, Enough Said, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Kings of Summer, Quartet, Thanks for Sharing, and others all try (to varying levels of success) to give more discerning viewers something to laugh at even while playing above the bottom line.

    Sure most of the good modern day comedies are actually dramedies, but hasn’t that always been true? The best comedies do more than just make us laugh; they also make us feel.

    • Great comments. I get what you’re saying and I agree with a lot of it. For me though, many of those films you mentioned may try to do some things different but they follow a similar formula. Movies like The Heat, This is the End, etc. load up with profanity and vulgarity because there is an audience for that stuff. I tend to see it more as a crutch. Something that tries to cover a lack of creativity.

      Also, as you alluded to, many of these films or more dramas than comedies. Take SLP, a film that I thought was okay but overrated. It was much more of a drama than a comedy to me.

      But I don’t just want to be Mr. negative. You did mention some true standouts, mainly Moonrise Kingdom which I thought was one of the best movies In recent years. Wes Anderson is a genius.

      • I certainly agree with the premise that The Heat and This is the End include more vulgarity and gross-out-ish-ness than is necessary. If you read my review of The Heat, in fact, you’ll find that is my prime criticism of the film. My point, though, is that they, and other comedies of their ilk, go past the yuck factor and add a degree of something meaningful , making them appeal to a more selective audience, as well.

        Which, I think, is what great comedies have always done. Think Mr. Mom. That was a darn fine funny flick with plenty of low-brow, slapstick humor, none of which makes it a classic comedy. Ditto that, frankly, for the first Beverly Hills Cop, The Royal Tenenbaums, or even (to a lesser extent) Animal House.

        My prime point is that I think comedy is a genre with a lot of crap and some hidden gems, just like it always has been. The Police Academy movies (especially the sequels) were lowest common denominator garbage that raked in money, the fact that they came out in the same era as Mr. Mom notwithstanding.

        My secondary point is that I don’t think comedy differs from other genres. For every The Conjuring, we have multiple Insidious 2s and other similarly bad horror flicks. Dramas work the same way. Mud is great. But Safe Haven isn’t. And action flicks. The Avengers was high quality, but for every Avenger-quality action flick, we get many more movies like Parker or After Earth.

        So it is that I don’t think I’m really disagreeing with your original point. There are a lot of stupid comedies. I’m just saying: a selective viewer can still find some higher quality options, just like they have always been able to do.

      • I think it may come down to the subjectivity of comedy. For me it’s incredibly difficult to find a good modern comedy much like today’s horror pictures. I guess the bigger question would be is that because of my selective nature in what I find funny? Is it simply due to comedy being so subjective? Maybe so.

      • Maybe.

        Although I agree with the idea the Adam Sandler is awful. In every way and every thing. And I patently refuse to see anything to which Jack Ass is even mildly affiliated. 😉

  2. I have never been a huge fan of comedies – mainly because so many suck and have stupid humour. I like it smart and sharp (think Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), dry and dark. Then it works for me. More often than not comedies fall flat, but every now and then there is a good one. Oh well. Still not usually the first genre I will put on…

    • I can handle a wide range of comedies but like you said the mass majority of them fall flat. I do realize, like so many other things, that comedy is subjective. But I don’t see how anyone finds Adam Sandler funny! 😉

      • BWAHAHAHA I see what you are saying. I feel that way about Jack Black. Comedy is subjective, you are right in that. I like dry and black humour, where others might find it dodgy.

  3. Every time my husband and I sit down and try to decide what movie we’re going to watch one of us will say, “what about a comedy?” and then we’ll root around on Netflix and realise there isn’t a single one that either of us wants to watch… I feel like the 80’s and 90’s had some amazing comedies but things have taken a turn for the moronic of late. I don’t care what genre I am watching but I need it to have a bit of intelligence and a bit of heart. I don’t mind the vulgarity, I mean Superbad, cracked me up but I still expect characters I can connect with and some food for thought.

  4. You know I’m not really fond of this current Appatow trend with sex and period jokes, weed etc for 2 hours and then having pro-family ending. That said, I do laugh during those films because I like the actors – Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel – they make the material funny. I loved This is the End but I miss the times of simple, elegant romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail. Such movies don’t get done nowadays.

    • I get what you’re saying. My reaction is a bit stronger. I don’t like Apatow, Rogen, or Hill. You always know what you’re going to get with them. Nothing more. Nothing new. Just the same thing.

  5. I was just showing my students (future post) ‘Life is Beautiful’ a lovely comedy and charming because of the Buster Keaton antics and smart dialogue by Roberto Benigni, and I worried that they wouldn’t appreciate that type of humor because they are used to the vulger and racous. Turns out they did! Clever and amusing and a little slap stick is a great type of comedy.

  6. Nice question. I like comedies with sharp wit and cleverness. I’ve found that a lot of the best comedy today is found on TV on shows like Parks and Rec and Louie. Most comedies in movies these days are pretty lousy, though I think Wes Anderson is a genius.

    As for Sandler, I never found him funny. His movies strike me as mean, cheap, and lazy.

  7. Comedy these days is so hit-and-miss – especially from the likes of Adam Sandler (ugh) and that ilk. Never found the jackass movies especially amusing, and a lot of that American humor fails to fly with me.

    Give me a good quality British comedy any day.

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