Opinion Comment

Sunday 28 May 2017

James Dempsey: Why did I leave American Reunion early? Well, because I'm not 12 years old anymore ....

The cast of American Pie Reunion
The cast of American Pie Reunion

AH... the movies, they sure can be funny. So-bad-it’s-good funny, funny ha ha, hilarious, and side-splitting. Whether it’s absurd vignettes of vaudeville slapstick, great big giggles at gallows’ japery, or mocking smirks at one-liners drier than the Sahara, there’s really no end to the ways in which a good comedy can tickle our ribs.

It is often said of the performing arts, however, that dying is easy, but comedy is hard. This adage, attributed mostly to the British stage-actor Edmund Gwenn, is a classic performer’s credo, bandied about by bit players and luvvies everywhere, ruefully reminding headliners and ingénues that yielding an audience’s tears is far more easily achieved with mournful lamentation and ill-advised romantic suicide than belly laughs and pratfalls. But beyond the setting of live theatre, Gwenn’s comment still holds true, though this time as a warning to audiences.



Nestled in front of the silver screen, surrounded by crunching and munching and slurps of indistinguishable origin, getting scared is easy. A sudden orchestral blare, a quick edit to reveal something – monstrous or stabby – from nowhere, and a unified gasp and occasional shriek is heard from the harmoniously horrified crowd. Weepies? Easy peasier, just toss a topical illness at someone young or have some wizened old-timer kicking the bucket, and blubbering sobs and scattered sniffs are a guarantee. But getting people to chuckle, well that’s no laughing matter.

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