“From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”
Just one example of the genius of Groucho Marx, a master of the one-liner. Like all good comedians and comic writers, he made humour look effortless. Indeed, great comedy should look effortless, which is perhaps one of the reasons it often doesn’t get the critical recognition it deserves.
In the world of Film and Literature, comedy rarely gets the same plaudits and appreciation as drama – despite the fact that it takes a huge amount of skill and craft to produce a novel, story or script that can consistently make an audience laugh.
In terms of Oscars, there have been some rare exceptions, like Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’ and more recently his ‘Midnight In Paris’ – but both of those excellent films do have that art-house sensibility that allows The Academy to feel they still fulfil their worthy artistic expectations.
In literature, humour also has a relatively lowly status. Casually drop in to conversation the fact that you’ve read everything Tolstoy ever wrote and fellow readers will swoon. Mention that you’ve consumed the entire works of P.G. Wodehose and, if you’re lucky, you will be rewarded with a shrug of the shoulders ‘so what’ gesture. Yet Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett et al (although loved by many) rarely get the full critical acclaim they deserve.
Again, there are exceptions but for humorous works to get lauded by serious critics they almost always have to be attached to a serious issue – like Catch-22, for example.
The real acclaim, awards and respect usually go to the serious, worthy, emotional works – sometimes with justification – but don’t you think it’s time we started taking comedy writers a little more seriously?
After all, as any comedian will tell you – dying is easy, comedy is hard.
This was my 10th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and even some songs with audio recordings. Next post – K is for Keep moving! Write or die.