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Gillianren
2012-Sep-29, 09:56 PM
When I was going through "M," one of the things which came up a lot was documentaries about Monty Python. And, yes, in those documentaries, they talked about their influences--and others talked about being influenced by Python. I'm not sure it's quite so linear as "without Python [or The Goon Show or what have you], there is no [Steve Martin, Eddie Izzard, SNL, and various others have all been cited]." However, I do believe that one of the most important things discussed was the moment of recognition. "Oh! Someone else thinks that's funny!" Michael Palin spoke of that a few times, and so did several people talking about Python in turn. I do think it matters, and I do think that prominent humour shapes what people do with comedy afterward.

Trebuchet
2012-Sep-30, 12:02 AM
When I was going through "M"....

In the "Read That Again" category, my first thought was "going through menopause." But I've met you and know you're way too young for that!

Nowhere Man
2012-Sep-30, 02:29 AM
Or the Fritz Lang film with Peter Lorre.

Of course, Monty Python's Flying Circus did not spring full-formed out or nowhere. It was influenced by what had come before (The Goon Show, Beyond the Fringe, etc.). Like Einstein and Relativity, if the Pythons hadn't done what they did, someone else probably would have done something similar.

Fred

Gillianren
2012-Sep-30, 06:42 AM
Well, that's the argument, really. Would someone have come up with something similar? After all, Relativity is. It's information about the world around us. Comedy isn't like that.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Sep-30, 08:03 AM
I suspect there might be a degree of determinism in comedy.

If you're trying to be different, edgy, a bit surreal or what have you, sooner or later you're going to have a sketch involving an animal put into a role that it cannot fulfil on account of its condition. Whether it's a dead Norwegian Blue parrot, or a blind guide dog, or a showjumping horse without legs.

And as long as there are politicians who are arrogant, out of touch, corrupt, or have absurd priorities, a lot of satire is going to be similar across the parallel worlds. The same holds true for religious figures (genteel vicars who like tea, to cite but one stereotype).

As long as sexual mores mean men want more than they are allowed, and women past a certain age don't want to be left on the shelf, we're going to see the same sort of sitcoms.

Certain members of society are either intrinsically funny or need to be made fun of in the opinion of some. (The following list is based on observation, and not an indication of whether I approve.) Train spotters, rock music fans, science fiction obsessives, hard blokes with white vans and pitbull terriers, racists, the elderly, people with a different sexual preference, and, later, people who have a problem with people with a different sexual preference.

Wordplay is always going to appeal, especially when the incorrect interpretation of an innocent utterance is not wholly innocent. (Mrs Slocombe was talking about her cat!)

In fact it would be interesting to see if anyone can come up with any examples that are totally dependent on specific earlier examples - apart from sketches that explicitly reference other sketches, of course.

Gillianren
2012-Sep-30, 05:41 PM
Well, the Roadrunner cartoons were explicitly a play on Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Elmer Fudd, and all the other people running about chasing one another in cartoons. They were meant to be a parody--after all, why is that funny? However, the public took 'em on their own level.

danscope
2012-Sep-30, 05:55 PM
It is drawn from intellectual caricature. We get a bang out of the coyote because he relies on technology which always defeats him. The Python crew were genius at poking fun at ourselves, our customs and our situations , at times a little racy. It was a new envelope. You couldn't do much of what they did back durring the Jack Benny days or Jack Parr .
And they underscored the fact that it takes well educated people to do a better job of modern comedy. Case in point:
The Cheese Snob in " the international cheese emporium , which had no cheese.

Dan

Perikles
2012-Sep-30, 07:06 PM
Certain members of society are either intrinsically funny or need to be made fun of in the opinion of some. This is surely a very conservative statement. My guess is that every living person has something about them which is absurd enough to be the subject of fun, and those that disagree about themselves being ridiculous are probably the most absurd. Satire is an essential tool to stop people taking themselves too seriously. But perhaps this is just my own view of our species.

JohnD
2012-Sep-30, 09:33 PM
What went before?

Well this caused a riot in the pubs of Pompei:
A man met a friend and said, "I was told you were dead".
The friend says, "You can see I'm still alive."
The man says, "But the man who told me you were dead is much more reliable than you".

Bah-boom!

You don't believe me? Consult Professor Mary Beard: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/mar/13/roman-joke-book-beard
Me, I think it must have been the way you told 'em.

John

Paul Beardsley
2012-Sep-30, 09:47 PM
This is surely a very conservative statement. My guess is that every living person has something about them which is absurd enough to be the subject of fun, and those that disagree about themselves being ridiculous are probably the most absurd. Satire is an essential tool to stop people taking themselves too seriously. But perhaps this is just my own view of our species.

You're possibly right. I was going to argue that some people are pretty close to the middle of the bell curve in many ways, but that in itself can be funny. I remember a colleague whose views on things were so average that we nicknamed him "the man in the street".

mike alexander
2012-Sep-30, 10:15 PM
Absurdity is often indicated by taking a person out of his usual milieu and then doing a bit of stretching here and there. The program "Northern Exposure" could be one of many alternatively titled "Stranger in a Strange Land."

Gillianren
2012-Sep-30, 10:39 PM
Actually, I wrote my paper for the AP exam about the use of the outsider to show a culture. They listed about a dozen examples you could write about, and I wrote about yet another. (Tale of Two Cities.) And, yeah, a lot of TV shows and movies, too.

starcanuck64
2012-Oct-01, 01:07 AM
A lot of comedy is about looking at the world from a fresh perspective, for instance the "fish out of water" experience. The more removed the view, often the funnier it becomes, within certain limits. When societies go through extensive cultural changes as we did in the 1960s and 70s for instance it can provide a lot of opportunity for some great comedy as what was once seen as normal rapidly shifts to antiquated.

Delvo
2012-Oct-01, 02:46 AM
Avoiding thread necromancy here: you said "Z" was hard to find movies for. I once recommended "Zulu", and you decided against it... but now I have recently become aware of another "Z" movie: "Zulu Dawn". (It just happens to be a separate movification of the same historical event.)

Anyway, I wonder how far back in history we can really say that there was any counterpart to Monty Python, or whatever TV & movies those guys watched and were inspired by, in terms of establishing later trends in comedy culture. There once were no movies or TV, and before that no radio. That leaves printed media (and word of travelers' mouths, but people even did less traveling then). What printed comedy publications were there?

Gillianren
2012-Oct-01, 05:18 AM
Zulu Dawn (I did both before I started the Great Alphabet Project) didn't do anything for me, either. I ended up buying Zodiac to complete the alphabet in my personal collection, and then Disney finally released the 1950s Zorro. So I have several things starting with "Z" now!

The first comedy publication which springs to mind is Punch, but I doubt it was the first.

Ara Pacis
2012-Oct-01, 08:35 AM
I suspect the pratfall is prehistoric.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Oct-01, 12:28 PM
I suspect the pratfall is prehistoric.

Maybe even prehuman.

Jim
2012-Oct-01, 12:38 PM
Avoiding thread necromancy here: you said "Z" was hard to find movies for. I once recommended "Zulu", and you decided against it... but now I have recently become aware of another "Z" movie: "Zulu Dawn". (It just happens to be a separate movification of the same historical event.)

Well, the same broadstroke event, the Zulu uprising. But different specific events, Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.

Jim
2012-Oct-01, 12:39 PM
I'm surprised no one's mentioned Ernie Kovacs or Sid Caeser.

Perikles
2012-Oct-01, 12:43 PM
Offhand, I can't think of any type of modern comedy which can't be found in Aristophanes (Athens, 446-386 B.C.). It can be absurd, satirical, obscene and very funny. There were probably many other similar writers at the time, so impossible to judge how original he might have been.

Delvo
2012-Oct-01, 10:10 PM
Arg, I forgot about stage plays... many of which were performed by traveling groups... and which could be performed from a printed script even by a whole new group of people who never met the ones they got it from... even with a relatively low literacy rate...

Gillianren
2012-Oct-02, 01:27 AM
Heaven knows Shakespeare "borrowed" enough plots from people before him!

danscope
2012-Oct-02, 02:07 AM
" A man walks into a roman arch. Ouch!! "

Jim
2012-Oct-02, 12:13 PM
Wait a minute... Are you telling me that A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is actually history? Accurate history?

NEOWatcher
2012-Oct-02, 05:08 PM
Speaking of the forum...
The Monte Python dead parrot idea has been traced at least to the 4th century (Philogelos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philogelos)). Same joke but with a slave instead.

I'm sure there were plenty of stand up philosophers back then.

An Abderite sees a eunuch talking with a woman and asks him if she's his wife. The guy responds that a eunuch is unable to have a wife. "Ah, so she's your daughter? "

Swift
2012-Oct-02, 05:19 PM
<snip>
After all, Relativity is. It's information about the world around us. Comedy isn't like that.
Actually, I disagree. The best comedy does give us information about the world around us. It may not be an insight that can be put down in an equation, but often the information is even more valuable on a day-to-day basis than GR.

Gillianren
2012-Oct-02, 06:49 PM
I see what you're saying, but the way it's put down is often the funny part. The idea of "original sin" being a funny term that doesn't mean what it sounds like it means has been kicking around for years, but there's just something about the idea that poking badgers with spoons is an original sin which has been amusing me for years. (I used to have a friend who we called Badger Guy for long and complicated reasons that only sort of made sense to us, and I would carry a spoon in my bag with which to poke him when he provoked me.) Maybe there's another variant of it in an Alternate Comedy Universe which would be just as funny, but I'm not sure that bit is anything like inevitable in the same way as Relativity.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Oct-02, 07:21 PM
(Philogelos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philogelos))

And a huge swathe of time has just disappeared from my evening when I was supposed to be writing a job application.

It's fascinating, though. I've only read the first hundred or so, but it's really made me feel as if I've entered the mindset of that time. Randing from the innocent (a student dunce buying a house and then asking passersby through the window if it suits him) to quite casual references to infanticide, freeing slaves, incest with grandmother and so on. I liked one where a student dunce wanting a nap asked his slave to get him a pot for a pillow; when the slave pointed out that a pot would be too hard, he told the slave to stuff it with feathers. I like the way it suggests slaves are allowed to give unsolicited advice.

More to say but I've got an application form to do.

vonmazur
2012-Oct-03, 08:40 AM
"Ursus ingressus taberna et petistis virum cervisia ..." According to the Brother Humez, this is found on a wall in some Roman Ruins...I guess very little is original..

Dale