Comedy movies are designed to elicit laughter. Moviegoers love to laugh, but not everyone has the same sense of humor. What makes a good comedic film depends on the type of jokes told, the story development and the eventual conclusion (also known as the happily ever after).
A good comedy fits the perimeters of its humor type. Humor has varying categories. Many of the best comedy films are parodies. This type plays off what the audience already knows about the subject; it usually makes absurd jokes at the subject's expense. Some examples include the "Naked Gun" films, "Blazin' Saddles" and "Not Another Teen Movie." Other comedy types include slapstick, dark comedy, satire and gross out comedy.
The set up for a joke is crucial in any comedic film. Whether the joke is a one-liner or a series of gags, a good comedy knows when to deliver. For example, if the movie is anarchic, the film should clearly define early on the protagonist and the antagonist. Then, it should set up a series of jokes where the protagonist is thumbing his nose at the antagonist's authority. The important thing to remember is to build up each scene naturally and know when to fire off the punchline. For example, a classic comedy bit often used in slapstick comedies is slipping on a banana peel, a gag that had one of its first uses in the 1917 silent film, "The Flirt." The joke is seeing the person fall, and it would have less of an impact if the person either fell too soon or did not slip right away.
A Plot Or Lack Thereof
Typically, the plot in a comedic film is exaggerated by its actors, situations and other character development tools. For example, "Airplane!" is a classic, even though its plot is minimal. Instead, the movie relies on its easily quotable one-liners, such as "Give me Hamm on five, hold the Mayo." A great comedy can create memorable moments just through its character development and dialogue.
Good comedic films can range from the light-hearted dramas to the absurd. While comedies can gain material from serious life situations, most end happily and resolve any conflicts that arise throughout the film. Leaving on a positive note resolves all issues and helps to satisfy the audience's desire for a "feel good" movie.
Leah Williams has written for many newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, including the "Mt. Vernon Register-News" and "Nightlife." She has her bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University and is now working on her graduate degree. Williams likes to write about parenting, arts and entertainment, education and features.