Monday, May 17, 2010

The Laugh...

Peter Bogdanovich on comedy in the movies he directs…

*(I used this quote this morning because I saw Date Night a few weeks ago with a friend and I enjoyed it, but I wanted to LOVE it, and I didn't. I love Tina Fey, love Steve Carrell, loved the premise, so why was I a little disappointed when I left the theater? I think what Bogdanovich says here might come a long way in explaining it as this is EXACTLY how I felt in the theater).

"You set up something. You get a laugh with it. And then you top it. The trouble with most comedies today is that nobody understands the principle of topping a joke. This means that you get a laugh and then if you get a laugh on top of that one, it's always the big laugh. Most times you see comedy you feel kind of like you laughed but you wish that you'd been able to have a big release and the reason you don't have it is because they haven't topped the the gag. That's all it is it's as simple as that.

My favorite example of that in What's Up, Doc? was the sort of classic gag which was the one where the cars are all making a U-turn and they all smash into this Volkswagen bus which is parked along the curb. There are three cars and each one smashes it and each time it gets a bigger laugh. It never fails. The third car that this it is a bigger laugh. Now I could have left it there because I did three - one, two, three - and each one was bigger. Well, the topper is when the guy runs out who obviously owns the car, opens the door, and the whole thing falls over. Thats' the topper and that's the big laugh. The audience actually falls apart because you have led them up to that. It isn't that they're happy. It's a release. Because it's laugh, laugh, laugh, and you want one more and there it is. It finishes the situation - no way you can get another laugh with it."


  1. I know what you mean when you say you wanted to "LOVE IT." It's been a long time since I've seen a comedy that had me laughing with tears...and that's a feeling I love. I rented "The Hangover" the other day expecting to really enjoy this highly praised film but I think I laughed like three times...that's not good. So, I was really dumbfounded as to how it got all these raves. "The 40 year old Virgin" was a far more better fare and definitely lived up to the hype.

  2. It's so nice to kick back at the end of my day with your witty, insightful blogs!!! Keep 'em comin'!