If you say someone's funny are they doomed to failure?
September 29, 2009 5:06 PM Subscribe
Are there any examples of stories where a character is depicted as super-funny, and that actually comes through in practice?
posted by Navelgazer to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Oftentimes, in movies and plays and tv shows, the story will involve one character's skills being trumpeted. Now, if this skill is something like ass-kicking or hacking or janitorial equation-solving, that's easy enough to show off when the script requires it. Sometimes, though, the story will require the creator to summon the same degree of artistic skill that is ascribed to the character, which is where this gets dicey and obviously, quite risky.
Sometimes the risk pays off. In Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, the song "Good Thing Going" is endlessly promoted as just the best thing you've ever heard, but Sondheim backs it up with an actually achingly beautiful song. In The West Wing, Toby and Sam are frequently touted as amazing writers, but Sorkin actually shows us the soaring, idealistic speeches they make, and they are, indeed, pretty awesome.
Where this always seems to fail, however, is with comedy. When Sorkin tried to do the same thing on Studio 60 with comedy writers, for instance, it became the primary reason for the show's quick demise, because none of the viewers agreed. The same is true for such misbegotten projects as Man of the Year and Mr. Saturday Night. I haven't yet seen Funny People, so maybe that's the exception to this, but my question is: are there any examples of fictional movies about supposedly great comedians/comediennes where the character in question is actually, you know, funny with their act? If so, which ones? If not, why not?