Comedy has gotten scary

Count the drinks in this picture

I won’t be seeing Due Date.  I’m sure there will be some laughs, but its time to take a stand.  I am not down with this type of comedy.  It’s easy, it’s lazy, and I won’t support it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a lot of love in my heart for Zach Galifianakis.  I’ve got no problem with Robert Downey Jr., either (although I’m not celebrating him like some others).  Due Date just crossed my field of vision at the wrong time.  If it wasn’t directed by the same guy who did The Hangover I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.

I’ve noticed a disturbing shift in comedy in the last five years or so.  Creative, intelligent, edgy work is ignored.  What the people want is comedy about cool dudes getting drunk and getting laid.  To me, that isn’t comedy.  I don’t know what it is.  Lame-ass fantasy projection?

Really its movie studios playing things as safe and profitable as possible.  Alcohol and vaginas are about the only two topics that all idiots consider safe and cool.  And since there are more idiots than smart guys, well, give the people what they want, right?  And what they want are 90 minute episodes of Entourage and Two-and-a-Half Men.

When did this happen?  I guess it probably happened slowly.  Or maybe it was always this way and I was too young and naive to know it.  But looking back, I actually think Old School was kind of a watershed moment for mainstream comedy.  I love Old School.  Don’t watch it often, but when I do I still laugh a lot.  The thing is though, there are also aspects of the movie that have always rubbed me wrong.  The really fat kid, Leah Remini, the over-quoted lines, Snoop Dawg’s entire party scene, some of the sweet college stuff.  And it seems like that stuff is what really took hold.  The subtlety and intelligence were pushed aside, and the cheapest laughs were embraced and replicated.

Maybe I’m just getting old and square.  Or maybe MacGruber‘s failure has left me overly bitter.  But I am frightened at what passes for funny these days.  I’m even more frightened about where we’ll be in 10 years.  Will “funny” just be a synonym for “awesome” by then?  If the conversations I overhear on subways or in line for the bathroom at bars are any indicator, I’d say we’re definitely heading in that direction.

I spend most of every day either with dogs or alone.  That’s the way I like it, for a variety of reasons I don’t want to talk about and you don’t want to hear about.  My point is, given my comparative isolation from human society at large, I’m probably not the best person to cast judgement on what the masses like or dislike.  Maybe I’m just a crazy old hermit ranting here.  I’ve considered that possibility.  But MacGruber and Bruno failed* and The Hangover succeeded.  That is not delusion.  That happened.

*I don’t have the box office numbers for Bruno handy, but I remember hearing that it did much worse than Borat.  Which is a shame considering its much, much funnier.  I’m sure all the gratuitous homosexuality turned people off.  Pardon my french, but those people can suck my dick.

I want to be made to laugh in new and exciting ways.  I want classic, hilarious characters.  Granted, that is asking a lot.  But we should ask a lot.  If we settle for junk, junk we shall receive.  I worry that soon, thats all we’ll receive.  People like Will Forte and Michael Showalter have their spirits crushed and people like Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Piven soar to such great heights.  These are the new faces of comedy.  Guys who aren’t funny, have probably never been considered funny by their peers at any point in their lives.  Meanwhile people who are funny are either ignored or branded as “stupid.”  Howard Roark is rolling in his fictional grave.

I have both read and heard many people call MacGruber “stupid.”  I hate the way that word is used.  It essentially now means “something I don’t understand.”  Fully developed characters are stupid.  Actual stupid characters (i.e. Galifianakis and Ed Helms in The Hangover) are funny.  I see how it is.  This is just like when we started saying “bad” to mean “good”, right?  This is all going to be over soon, right?  RIGHT?!?

Pair awesome guys with dumb guys, add alcohol and hot chicks.  Comedy recipe for the new millenium!

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Comedy has gotten scary

  1. The Centaur

    woke up there’s a fuckin TIGER in the room, dude. a fuckin tiger ha. that’s fucked up.

  2. This rant, while not groundless, is what makes me wonder why you didn’t seem to have liked Step Brothers. John C. Reilly is a comic genius, and that was very much like the movies you are citing as being overlooked.

    P.S. It’s about goddamn time you posted in these here parts.

    • Big Hatt

      I did like Stepbrothers though! I laughed my ass off when I saw it, I was just so high I barely remember it and I haven’t seen it since. Believe you me, the second it comes out on either Showtime or HBO on demand, I’m gonna watch the shit out of that movie. Probably multiple times.

      Always with the Stepbrothers, Duggan.

      Here are some other times Reilly has made me laugh:

      1) Bruhl’s Rules
      2) The Green Team
      3) Boogie Nights
      4) Although I didn’t love Talladega Nights, he had by far the best line in the movie.

      • I wasn’t crazy about Talladega Nights either–the first time I saw it. It did get better with repeat viewings. And John C. Reilly is a comic genius. He was pretty great in Walk Hard.

  3. And in regards to Bradley Cooper, he actually seems like an all right guy and was awesome in both Wet Hot American Summer and Alias.

    • Big Hatt

      I actually think Cooper seems like an OK guy too. He came off decent when he hosted SNL. I don’t hate him, he just isn’t a funny guy. He’s not even really supposed to be. It’s a reflection of our times that a guy like Bradley Cooper is now a successful comic actor.

      I love Wet Hot, but he was probably the least funny character in it. It is interesting that I contrasted him and Showalter when they’d actually been in a movie together though.

      • Cooper can actually be funny, though. While Wedding Crashers was all right at best, Cooper was pretty damn funny as the coked-up yuppy bully.

        He was also sort of funny in The A-Team.

        I think that since he doesn’t get cast in the clown roles, his skills are undervalued.

        He was really good and often the comic relief in Alias, too.

  4. Oh, and let’s not forget how awful things were in the late-90s, when R-rated comedy was deemed too unprofitable for major studios to get in the game. We actually had to convince ourselves that dreck like Mallrats (I liked Smith, but it was shit) was good to tide ourselves over while comedies played it safe due to marketability concerns.

  5. Good point with Mallrats…I was duped as well. Boy does that stuff not stand the test of time. The only thing it has going for it is nostalgia.

    Hatt, although times are tough, now is not the time to despair. Not when one of the greatest and weirdest comedic characters of all time is doing hilarious stuff each and every week. I’m talk’in Stevie from EB&D. Episodes 2 and 3 of this season were so good and a lot of it had to do with him. That scene where Stevie and Kenny have the argument with the midget (whoa…MIDGET!) and the other guy was so weird and hilarious I couldn’t even laugh. My mind was blown.

    Also, I guess guys like Shonson (I forget his real name) are getting good gigs on late night shows and what not so there is light at the end of the tunnel. MacGruber will be the outlier (God I hope I’m right on this).

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