The Cathartic Absurdity of Mel Brooks

Srsly, he’s pretty funny By Felicia Kuhnreich In today’s media, where there are so many outlets for comedy and so many funny people, I still always find myself returning to Mel Brooks. His brand of silliness is critically acclaimed (he is in the elite EGOT club), and I often regard him as a safe choice for a favorite comedian. Brooks’ lowbrow vulgarity drives movies such … Continue reading The Cathartic Absurdity of Mel Brooks


a history of the gay joke


Who are we laughing at? The best jokes target our weaknesses or the folly of life itself; the punch line kills because it so goddamn true. The funniest people tend to be neurotic creatures because they are so aware of the truth of things, and how the unexamined life is not worth living, and yet how the examined life precludes much living at all, and so on.

More often, however, comedy aims lower. Instead of looking within, the comedian looks out and finds other people funny just … cuz. Just cuz they are different. Humans are ridiculous beings who deserve to be laughed at, incessantly perhaps, but it’s no good when comedy begets, and perpetuates, an arena of us versus them, where the “them” is a demographic of the population already at a disadvantage. Laughing at women, blacks or LGBT people (anyone who is not the most square combination of white, straight and male) without letting the other side have their say and be defined by something besides their Other-ness, breeds intolerance, and that is the last thing we need these days.

Continue reading “NO HOMO, YES HOMO, MAYBE HOMO”

Movie Déjà Vu


My favorite part of going to the movies is watching the trailers. I love sitting in the theatre and seeing a snapshot of the endless panorama that is the current film industry. I used to watch the previews and become enthralled by the tidbits of new stories, strung together to entice us into returning to see what else Hollywood has to offer. But unfortunately, as I’ve watched more movies, my experience with trailers has changed. Instead of feeling excited to go see the next big flick, I find myself comparing films to their originals from three decades ago, or naming the six other movies I’ve seen with the same basic plotline, or wondering how many sequels they can squeeze out before the franchise is allowed to rest in peace.

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