Tag Archives: Our Gang

Comic Layering, via Marxes and Jackasses.

ANightAtTheOpera jackass_the_movie

Comedy relies heavily on the layering principle, meaning that when you take one normal activity or object, and layer it with several more, the layers could potentially lead to a comical situation. A Marx Brothers film brought intrinsic comic layering, with at least three of the five siblings (Zeppo being optional, Gummo never appearing onscreen), the prerequisite harp solo from Harpo, a piano solo from Chico, and the studio-mandated romantic interlude between whatever pair of twenty-somethings happened to be on the MGM lot that day. (See the GB,HR. Guide to the Marxes)

Take a look at the cabin sequence from the Marx Brothers’ 1935 film A Night at the Opera. Please note that being on a boat isn’t funny, having a large trunk isn’t funny, stewards aren’t funny, ordering room service isn’t funny, having the floor mopped isn’t funny, sleeping isn’t funny, getting a manicure isn’t funny, and looking for one’s aunt isn’t funny. But, add all of these elements together, and, voila: Continue reading

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