|Claremont Behavioral Studies
*Comedy For Comedy's Sake!
listed in other sections of Therapeutic Cinema require the viewer to be in a
certain mind set and to be willing to have a "thoughtful and
concentrated experience." A Comedy Tonight! suggests the opposite.
Just enjoy the movie without trying to assign any deeper meaning.
We all need to laugh. Especially when weíre under stress. Laughter and humor are essential for a balanced mental state and can facilitate oneís recovery from painful or difficult experiences and situations. This is not to say that we should laugh at our loss and misfortunes. As it says in Ecclesiastics, there is a time to laugh and a time to cry.
There is a scene in the 1941 movie Sullivanís Travels in which a chain gang is ushered into a simple rural church. These poor wretches have been working during the day under the hot southern sun and stern eyes of their guards. They are weary and defeated men. The warden probably realizes that they need a momentís respite. In the church the minister entertains them by showing old Mickey Mouse cartoons. The prisoners are able to laugh freely, and for a moment we see that they experience a needed break from the misery of their lives. The scene is neither forced nor contrived. Instead it reveals the importance of humor.
Therapists have begun to appreciate the importance of humor and laughter. There is even a professional group that promotes the "discreet" use of humor in psychotherapy (The American Association for Therapeutic Humor which has a statement of Twelve Affirmations of Positive Humor. There was even a front page article in the APA Monitor, the newspaper of the American Psychological Association, which featured the use of humor in psychotherapy. Humor has become serious stuff!
A NOTE ABOUT SELECTING
Most places that rent and sell videos have a section,
usually a big section, for comedies. But you have to be selective. Some
films labeled "comedies" arenít all that funny. Iím not
talking about bad comedies. Iím referring to a number of biting satires,
dark comedies, penetrating farces, and mocking parodies; movies that are
serious comedies, and are not intended to be light, refreshing nor upbeat.
Smoke Signals, Shirley Valentine and Muriel's Wedding are classified as
comedies but from my point of view they are serious little films with some
humorous moments or funny characters. Donít get me wrong. I love these
three movies, but I
would never recommend them for a laugh.
"IS THIS REALLY FUNNY?"
These categories are used to further steer
you to the types of comedies you may prefer and away from those you dislike.
Sometimes these differences are very pronounced. If a Situation Comedy is
the equivalent of tickling oneís lover with a feather, Burlesque uses the
whole chicken! Realize, though, that sometimes the distinction is arbitrary;
Burlesque and Slapstick are not always all that different. And some films
are a mixture of different types of comedy. In fact what I list as "The
Classics" are often hard to put in a single comedy genre.
Copyright © 2000