2) Musicals create a unique space for a certain brand of absurdity and silliness
Comedy and music hold a special relationship. There’s a reason both Monty Python and the South Park guys, just two examples of some of the best satirical and idiosyncratic humor in modern history, were able to create incredible, award-winning stage musicals. Something about absurd humor prompts characters spontaneously breaking into song (think of the endings of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and This is the End, or Anchorman’s “Afternoon Delight” interlude), and vice versa.
I have plenty of things that I don’t like about Glee as a series, but like many others, I was intrigued by its potential to combine a weird sense of humor with scenes featuring musical numbers. When the show operated at its best, it opened up a kind of comedy unlike anything else on TV, and its embrace of oddness and advocacy of a big umbrella approach to culture—promoting the acceptance of jock, nerd and musician identities all at once—was admirable. It was just a shame they had to stretch out such long seasons due to network demands.
Another example of the kind of cinematic humor that is so daring that it’s a bit hard to grasp at first (or at all, for many) is the 2005 version of The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. They go all out with the noisy silliness on this one. Like many comedies though, it’s so much better when you watch it years later, I think. It’s so unashamed of itself that it strikes a unique tone, unlike any other movie I’ve seen.