The British sense of humor is a difficult thing to define, primarily because it doesn’t seem to exist. The Brits have a sense of the absurd, certainly, as evidenced by Monty Python and Tony Blair, and they do pronounce things amusingly, but if those were the sole criteria for being funny, we'd all be listening to stand up recordings of people from Alabama reading from university textbooks. Still, it seems to be quite popular among older white parents and kids who like calculus. That's not to say that early 60s British comedy Billy Liar isn't a good movie. With its childlike play between fantasy and reality, childhood and maturity, this story of a creative but flighty young man with a Peter-Pan-complex toys between being lighthearted and tragic, like a conversation with me when I haven't been taking my Lithium. But the real highlight of the film is its rapid-fire, improvisational dialogue. American comedies of the same period were all weighty, clunky affairs, every joke telegraphed and the plot so constructed it feels like it was directed by cranes. Even now, I picture most Hollywood comedies as being helmed by some boorish, whiskey-fattened lout, as if James Belushi has been behind the camera of every movie ever made. So while Billy Liar never made me laugh, it never made me want to give up laughing for fear the sound might carry on a southerly blowing wind current and encourage a sequel to Beer Fest. I've actually been on a humor strike since they cancelled Futurama, replacing it with the preening excuse for a post-football drinking game that is Family Guy. Did Stewie say something as if he were a cross between James Mason and Hitler? Take another shot of Jagermeister, frat boy. But don't drink too much! You'll want to be able to remember enough to quote the whole fucking thing in the back of Early American Literature class, should your voice be too hoarse to do a good impression of Cartman from South Park.
Comic genius. I hope Chris Farley plays him in the feature film. In hell.
In fact, what's even the point in smiling? And I say that not because I've spent too much money on Joy Division CDs. It's just that trying to find a good comedy is like finding a virgin at a Peaches concert; it takes a really long time, and once you finally succeed, you've forgotten how to either laugh or tie a ball gag, depending on which stream of metaphor you're following. There hasn't been a funny movie made since 1993, when Army of Darkness
reached a zenith in comedic genius and set up the inevitable long decline that follows such a lofty peak. And now, as we wallow in the rut left behind by such mighty giants as Army of Darkness
and Billy Liar
, we can only let the facial muscles atrophy as we watch humor fade away, leaving us only with reruns of Three's Company
and ball gag jokes.
Labels: Amphetamine Fueled Sex Drive.