I usually like my humor a little dark, and one of my all-time favorites is Wild Tales, a wicked and hilariously deranged satire consisting of 6 stories around the theme of revenge. In the opening credits each actor is identified with an image of a wild animal, which should give you an idea of what's to come. The first scene might make you think you're watching a twilight zone episode, but no ... (in Spanish, from Argentina)
The classic and iconic dark comedy, Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is another favorite. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Peter Sellers in multiple roles, this pitch-black satire is wildly entertaining. Produced during the Cold War, when we hid under our desks to protect ourselves from a nuclear holocaust, it brought the absurdity of nuclear war home but in a way that made us laugh.
Untitled is an obscure little film that satirizes the pretentiousness of the modern art and avant-garde music world. It has some really funny scenes, which will especially resonate with anyone who is in this world or knows someone who is, but it's thought-provoking at the same time. It doesn't mock the characters and you're sympathetic to the artists - but it's still pretty comical!
For laughs in my music, I listen to musical comedy cast recordings. Some favorites are Urinetown, The Producers, Spamalot, Avenue Q, Book of Mormon and The Drowsy Chaperone. Urinetown and Avenue Q are also available on Freegal.
For this theme I'd like to showcase dead comedians. I realize that's not the cheeriest of topics but I think we can all agree there's a fine line between laughter and tears.
You don't have to be a fan of Jane Austen or of Shakespeare's comedies to enjoy the humor in these modern-day retellings of their classic works. Check 'em out, they're worth a laugh!
TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
(Based on Taming of the Shrew)
SHE'S THE MAN
(Based on Tweflth Night)
(Based on Comedy of Errors)
(Based on Emma)
BRIDGET JONE'S DIARY
(Based on Pride and Prejudice)
FROM PRADA TO NADA
(Based on Sense and Sensibility)
When I think of comedians, three stand out to me. I owned their CD’s and listened to them all the time back in the day. I might need to check them out myself, some laughter would be good right now. Some of their material can be explicit.
Toledo Window Box
Available on CD.
Weapons of Self Destruction
Available on CD, Streaming on Freegal.
Whoopi: [the 20th Anniversary Show]
Available on CD.
I find P.D.Q. Bach, the fictional, forgotten son of the Bach family (actually composer, Peter Schickele, who has several streaming albums on Alexander Street) very funny and deeply musical. His 1712 Overture & Other Musical Assaults is a great example of the type of comedy that won him four consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album.
Film director, Mitchell Leisen is not one of the best known movie directors but he directed two of my favorite comedies in the 1930's.
The glistening and gorgeously funny, Midnight starring the stylish and hilarious Claudette Colbert as a down on her luck woman in a great dress who becomes part of the machinations of a wealthy family. It is so well plotted and performed, that it leaves the audience completely delighted.
Easy Living which stars the incandescent Jean Arthur, was written by Preston Sturges about the complications that occur when an expensive fur coat thrown out of a penthouse lands in the lap of a working-class secretary and transforms her life. Again, Leisen achieves a breathless wonder of a comedy, the automat scene is deservedly classic.
Finally, one of my all time favorite funny movies is the Danny Kaye led The Court Jester. One of the most expensive comedies of its time, this rousingly goofy technicolor film is a constant inventive delight. It includes the famous, "Vessel with the Pestle" routine.
Do yourself a favor and check out these beautifully crafted film comedies today.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
At 18 seasons, this comedian holds the record for the longest tenure as a cast member in Saturday Night Live history
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Jon Batiste