Friday, December 11, 2009

Anthony Balducci - Pathos & Comedy

An examination of comedies trying to incorporate pathos into them, tricky stuff to accomplish. 

Everything here's just copy pasted:

A scene, no matter how anguished, should not cause the comedy to stop. Take for example the big dramatic scene in The Kid. The welfare workers are taking Coogan away from Chaplin. Even in the midst of this emotionally wrenching scene, Chaplin supplies slapstick in the form of Coogan grabbing a sledgehammer and repeatedly bonking the welfare workers on their heads.

In Below Zero (1930), Laurel & Hardy are impoverished street musicians struggling through a bitterly cold winter. As sad as their situation is, it doesn't mean that the comedy has to stop.

Good pathos is heartbreaking. Bad pathos is cringe-inducing.

The central character of a pathos comedy is, in either case, a victim. Chaplin is a victim of cruel welfare workers and Lloyd is a victim of cruel classmates.

A filmmaker is messing with a volatile formula when he tries mixing comedy and drama. He has to get it just right or else the whole thing will blow up in his face. It offends people when a comedian seems to be showing off and trying to prove how dramatic he can be. It irritates people when the sad scenes in a comedy come across as forced, contrived and excessive. It doesn't win fans to have sad scenes in a comedy turn mawkish or maudlin. That's when critics complain that about a comedy having gooey sentiment, turgid sentiment, heavy-handed sentiment, cloying sentiment, or mushy sentiment. It is a mistake when a film is rigged for pathos scenes as a way to manipulate audiences.

It is the job of a filmmaker to create characters and tell a story. A character may find himself in situation that evokes pathos. Fine, people in the audience may feel sad and they may even shed a tear. The audience will recognize the pathos if it's there and allowed to come out on its own. Compassion should grow naturally out of the characters and situations.

The scene is real to life and it evolves naturally out of the story.

no pathos comedy was ever loathed more by critics than the Robin Williams vehicle Patch Adams (1998). This film had it all, from a self-righteous character moralizing to everyone to a gang of sick children showing up to evoke pity.

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