The above photo is from my spec music video password: BRMC

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Comedy Never Wins

Comedy doesn't win awards.  It doesn't.  Unless, of course, there is a category specific to it.  Duh.

Go look at the Academy Awards winners for Best Picture. Only a few comedies have won. And those that are listed are all Comedy/Dramas (or Satire).  They all have the universality of the drama genre (or solid intellectualism in the form of satire) to ground them in the court of public opinion.

A while ago, my USC thesis film (which is a comedy) didn't win a student film award.  It was "nominated" so to speak, but didn't win - a drama film in fact won that night. Moreover, my film had been up for several awards in the previous months but didn't win anything.  It did actually earn "2nd Place" in the comedy category at the College Television Awards (Emmy Foundation), however, I don't count this "win" for this blog post since it won in a comedy specific category.

Anyway, the night of my non-win, I was having an "alone" moment by the step-and-repeat (the red carpet thing) when an older gentleman walked up to me and asked if I was "okay". It was quite embarrassing - I must have looked really disappointed.  He then began to explain to me why comedies never win:

Too many people have too many different tastes on "what is funny".

Think about how many countries in the world there are?  And then count the fact that each of these countries/regions have different comedic tastes...  If you don't believe me, watch foreign comedy films... some of them can be quite weird (I'm thinking of you, Germany).  

Or instead, check box-office returns - American comedy films, in fact, typically do not do well abroad compared to other genres.

Then... think about how many different comedy tastes there are within a country.  Whose Line is it Anyway? versus Eastbound & Down... quite different audiences.  

Also, think back to that recent comedy film that your dumb friend liked that you hated. See? That movie was terrible AND offensive!

So... given how many people have different tastes when it comes to comedies, what is the litmus test for declaring it's a "great film"?  What is a universal way of codifying the subjective tastes regarding "funny"?  

Well, there is none.  In the words of Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, there is not a way to confidently say, "I know it when I see it..." (he was talking about porn by the way).

Standing on that red carpet, I suddenly felt better - I realized that comedy gets screwed over!  And thus the only thing we can do is laugh at ourselves.  Because we'll never win. Never...

And that realization was actually strangely comforting.

After our conversation by the step-and-repeat, the older gentleman grinned and offered to take a picture with me.  

He then formally introduced himself:  Neil Stiles, President of Variety Magazine.  

So I guess he probably knew a thing or two.

I don't know why we are standing so awkwardly

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