Fine Arts Column: The art of laughter—comedies

PATRICIA VOIGT
FINE ARTS COLUMNIST

You know what is so wonderful to watch after a long, hard day of work? A heart-breaking tragedy! No, that was obviously not your answer, I imagine, and nor is it mine. I do love a good dramatic or tragic play because of all the important morals, life lessons and stories they offer, but sometimes you just need to laugh and forget the hardships in your life for a moment. Comedies can offer that, sometimes even both the laughter and the lessons. And that is something that has been on my mind lately: the art of a good comedy.

Going into theatre major mode here. There are a myriad of types of comedy, but let’s just narrow it down to two: farces and pretty much everything else. A farce is a type of comedy that involves a lot of slapstick humor and not too much substance, a real Three Stooges kind of comedy.

Sometimes farces can also include improve shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway?” or those Late Night improve shows with Jimmy Fallon and whatnot. Those are great for the unsolicited ab workout we all need once and a while, but what about substance? What about stories? Well, I believe that is where the other comedies come into play (no pun intended).

Sometimes these comedies are not classified as such, but instead involve a plethora of comedic lines and scenes chock-full of wit and humor. These comedies come in the guise of romances, dramas and even tragedies. The example I always use is the movie “The Princess Bride,” a classic romance movie that I’m pretty sure most of us spend more time laughing while watching than anything else.

As previously noted, this is a dramatic romance movie, but it offers so many memorable lines of wit while also providing us with a beautiful tale of  “twroo luv.” Another great example is the recent main-stage production and radio show “Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” based on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The story is a dramatic telling of the life of George, all of his ups and downs and his struggles that finally overwhelm him enough to consider suicide. It goes on to tell how an angelic intervention reveals all the beauty in his life for him and from him, causing him to want to live life to the fullest.

But just in our Theatre Department’s radio show, for those who attended, you may remember how many times you found yourself laughing. You may have been laughing at a funny line, situation or voice, but you were laughing in the midst of this story that is actually quite dark in its own way. And that is the power of comedy amidst the darkness.

It is good to relax and just laugh at something mindless; it is even better to be able to receive a great story and message while still obtaining that minor ab workout, which we college students with poor eating habits may or may not need.