1) Funny People
Judd Apatow’s humor has progressed rather fascinatingly over time. He has preserved a unique brand of so-called immature comedy while becoming one of the most mature popular comedy filmmakers of this generation. It’s been so startling, in fact, jarring even, that movies like Funny People and This is 40 are difficult to fully appreciate on initial viewings.
There’s an impressively distinct tone he’s established in these last two films in particular that deserves greater appreciation. They’re not the types of movies that will have you laughing throughout, although there are genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. The comedy comes more in the absurdity of the situations and the dispositions of the characters, as well as the narrative perspective, that treats these situations with a conscious levity as a way of addressing heavy material without feeling too serious, which is one of the advantages of a comedic approach.
So it almost seems like the only way to treat the subject of stand-up culture is to do so with relative seriousness. After all, it’s a diverse and varied world, but one surprising aspect of it seems to be that it’s populated by performers who are intensely serious about the craft, even though they express this in ways that are, on the surface, goofy. Funny People works tremendously well at showing the depth of sensitivity in many personalities drawn to stand-up. The ironic line bitterly spoken by Adam Sandler, that “comedy is usually for funny people,” seems to sum up the movie’s premise somehow. It might be the best demonstration of how to talk about comedy without talking about it, because talking about it robs it of its magic.
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