Black comedy

Black comedy, also known as dark comedy or gallows humor, is a comic style that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss. Comedians often use it as a tool for exploring vulgar issues, thus provoking discomfort and serious thought as well as amusement in their audience. Popular themes of the genre include death and violence (murder, suicide, abuse, domestic violence, graphic violence, rape, torture, war, genocide, terrorism, corruption), discrimination (chauvinism, racism, sexism, homophobia), disease (anxiety, depression, nightmares, drug abuse, mutilation, disability, terminal illness, insanity), sexuality (sodomy, homosexuality, incest, infidelity, fornication), religion, and barbarism.

Black comedy differs from blue comedy which focuses more on crude topics such as nudity, sex, and bodily fluids. Although the two are interrelated, black comedy is also different from straightforward obscenity in that it is more subtle and does not necessarily have the explicit intention of offending people. In obscene humor, much of the humorous element comes from shock and revulsion, while black comedy might include an element of irony, or even fatalism. For example, an archetypal example of black comedy in the form of self-mutilation appears in the English novel Tristram Shandy. Tristram, five years old at the time, starts to urinate out of an open window for lack of a chamber pot. The sash falls and circumcises him; his family reacts with both hysteria and philosophical acceptance.

Literary critics have associated black comedy and black humor with authors as early as the ancient Greeks with Aristophanes.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Whereas the term black comedy is a relatively broad term covering humor relating to many serious subjects, gallows humor tends to be used more specifically in relation to death, or situations that are reminiscent of dying.

Black humor can occasionally be related to the grotesque genre.[8]

Hopscotch to oblivion
"Hopscotch to oblivion", Barcelona, Spain

History and etymology

Irony
An amusing play on words

Origin of the term

The term black humor (from the French humour noir) was coined by the Surrealist theorist André Breton in 1935 while interpreting the writings of Jonathan Swift.[9][10] Breton's preference was to identify some of Swift's writings as a subgenre of comedy and satire[11][12] in which laughter arises from cynicism and skepticism,[9][13] often relying on topics such as death.[14][15]

Breton coined the term for his book Anthology of Black Humor (Anthologie de l'humour noir), in which he credited Jonathan Swift as the originator of black humor and gallows humor (particularly in his pieces Directions to Servants (1731), A Modest Proposal (1729), A Meditation Upon a Broom-Stick (1710), and in a few aphorisms).[10][13] In his book, Breton also included excerpts from 45 other writers, including both examples in which the wit arises from a victim with which the audience empathizes, as is more typical in the tradition of gallows humor, and examples in which the comedy is used to mock the victim. In the last cases, the victim's suffering is trivialized, which leads to sympathizing with the victimizer, as analogously found in the social commentary and social criticism of the writings of (for instance) Sade.

Adoption in American literary criticism

Among the first American writers who employed black comedy in their works were Nathanael West[16] and Vladimir Nabokov,[16] although at the time the genre was not widely known in the US. The concept of black humor first came to nationwide attention after the publication of a 1965 mass-market paperback titled Black Humor, of which the editor was Bruce Jay Friedman.[6][17] The paperback was one of the first American anthologies devoted to the concept of black humor as a literary genre.[7] With the paperback, Friedman labeled as "black humorists" a variety of authors, such as J.P. Donleavy,[6][7] Edward Albee,[6][7] Joseph Heller,[6][7] Thomas Pynchon,[6][7] John Barth,[6][7] Vladimir Nabokov,[6][7] Bruce Jay Friedman[6][7] himself, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine.[6][7] Among the writers labeled as black humorists by journalists and literary critics are today also Roald Dahl,[18] Kurt Vonnegut,[11] Warren Zevon, Christopher Durang, and Philip Roth.[11] The motive for applying the label black humorist to all the writers cited above is that they have written novels, poems, stories, plays, and songs in which profound or horrific events were portrayed in a comic manner. Comedians, like Lenny Bruce,[12] that since the late 1950s have been labeled for using "sick comedy" by mainstream journalists, have also been labeled with "black comedy".

Nature and functions

Sigmund Freud in his 1927 essay Humour (Der Humor) puts forth the following theory of black comedy: "The ego refuses to be distressed by the provocations of reality, to let itself be compelled to suffer. It insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world; it shows, in fact, that such traumas are no more than occasions for it to gain pleasure." Some other sociologists elaborated this concept further. At the same time, Paul Lewis warns that this "relieving" aspect of gallows jokes depends on the context of the joke: whether the joke is being told by the threatened person themselves or by someone else.[19]

Black comedy has the social effect of strengthening the morale of the oppressed and undermines the morale of the oppressors.[20][21] According to Wylie Sypher, "to be able to laugh at evil and error means we have surmounted them."[22]

Black comedy is a natural human instinct and examples of it can be found in stories from antiquity. Its use was widespread in middle Europe, from where it was imported to the United States.[23] It is rendered with the German expression Galgenhumor. The concept of gallows humor is comparable to the French expression rire jaune (lit. yellow laughing),[24][25][26] which also has a Germanic equivalent in the Belgian Dutch expression groen lachen (lit. green laughing).[27][28][29][30]

Italian comedian Daniele Luttazzi discussed gallows humour focusing on the particular type of laughter that it arouses (risata verde or groen lachen), and said that grotesque satire, as opposed to ironic satire, is the one that most often arouses this kind of laughter.[31][32][33] In the Weimar era Kabaretts, this genre was particularly common, and according to Luttazzi, Karl Valentin and Karl Kraus were the major masters of it.[33]

Examples

There are multiple recorded instances of humorous last words and final statements. For example, author and playwright Oscar Wilde was destitute and living in a cheap boarding house when he found himself on his deathbed. There are variations on what his exact words were, but his reputed last words were, "Either that wallpaper goes or I do."[34][35]

Gallows speeches

Examples of gallows speeches include:

  • In Edo period Japan, condemned criminals were occasionally executed by expert swordsmen, who used living bodies to test the quality of their blade (Tameshigiri). There is an apocryphal story of one who, after being told he was to be executed by a sword tester, calmly joked that if he had known that was going to happen, he would have swallowed large stones to damage the blade.[36]
  • One of the first convicts transported in Australia by the British Empire, John Caesar, escaped the penal colony in 1789 and lived as a bushranger in the wilderness. He survived by raiding garden patches with a stolen gun. When he was eventually caught, according to colonial governor David Collins he was "so indifferent about meeting death, that he declared in confinement that if he should be hanged he would create a laugh before he was turned off, by playing some trick upon the executioner."[37] He was reprieved but died six years later from gunshot wounds after escaping a second time.
  • Murderer James French has been attributed with famous last words before his death by electric chair: "How's this for a headline? 'French Fries'."
  • Robert-François Damiens, a french man who attempted to assassinate king Louis XV, was sentenced on 26 March 1757 to be executed in a gruesome and painstakingly detailed manner, by being led to a gallow, holding a torch with 2 lbs of burning wax, then having his skin ripped with pliers at the breast, arms and legs, then his right arm, holding the knife he had used for his crime, being burned with sulfur, then the aforementioned areas with ripped skin being poured with molten lead, boiling oil, burning pitch, wax and sulfur, then his body dismembered by four horses, then his members and trunk consumated in fire, down to ashes, and ashes spread in the wind – after hearing the sentence, Damiens is reported to have replied: “Well, it's going to be a tough day.”[38]
  • During the French Revolution, Georges-Jacques Danton, who had disgraceful facial scars from small pox, when he was about to be beheaded with a guillotine on 5 April 1794, is reported to have said to the executioner: “Don't forget to show my head to the people, it's well worth it!”[39]
  • As Sir Thomas More climbed a rickety scaffold where he would be executed, he said to his executioner: "I pray you, Mr. Lieutenant, see me safe up; and for my coming down, let me shift for myself."[40]
  • At his public execution, the murderer William Palmer is said to have looked at the trapdoor on the gallows and asked the hangman, "Are you sure it's safe?"[41]
  • Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on 29 October 1618. "Let us dispatch", he said to his executioner. "At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear." After he was allowed to see the axe that would behead him, he mused: "This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries." According to many biographers – Raleigh Trevelyan in his book Sir Walter Raleigh (2002) for instance – Sir Walter's final words (as he lay ready for the axe to fall) were: "Strike, man, strike!"
  • Ronald Reagan, upon being transported to the emergency room after being shot by John Hinckley, Jr., is reported to have said to his doctors, "Please tell me you’re Republicans."[42]
  • The Prefect of Rome executed Saint Lawrence in a great gridiron prepared with hot coals beneath it. He had Lawrence placed on it, hence St Lawrence's association with the gridiron. After the martyr had suffered pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he cheerfully declared: "I'm well done. Turn me over!" From this derives his patronage of cooks, chefs, and comedians.

Military

Military life is full of gallows humor, as those in the services continuously live in the danger of being killed, especially in wartime. For example:

  • The Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G4M Isshikirikkou (イッシキリッコウ) "Betty" bomber airplane was called "Hamaki" (葉巻 or はまき, meaning cigar) by the Japanese crews not only because its fuselage was cigar-shaped, but because it had a tendency to ignite on fire and burn violently when it was hit. The American nickname was "flying Zippo".
  • When the survivors of HMS Sheffield, sunk in 1982 in the Falklands War, were awaiting rescue, they were reported to have sung the Monty Python song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".[43]
  • Soviet pilots in World War II joked that the true meaning of the type designation of the LaGG-3 was Lakirovanny Garantirovanny Grob, "varnished guaranteed coffin".
  • Soviet military vehicle BMP-1 was called Bratskaya Mogila Pekhoty ("mass grave of infantry") by soldiers, as penetrative hits would fragment inside the vehicle, killing all crew members inside.
  • In the Battle of Jutland (31 May – 1 June 1916), the destroyer HMS Tipperary was sunk in an overnight engagement with the heavily armed German dreadnought SMS Westfalen. Only 13 survived out of a crew of 197. The survivors were identified in the darkness by the crew of HMS Sparrowhawk because they were heard in the distance, singing, "It's a long way to Tipperary".[44]
  • During the Winter War the Soviet Union bombed Helsinki, and after Soviets claimed they were air-dropping food to the "starving people of Helsinki" the Finnish people dubbed the Soviet bombs "Molotov bread baskets", and in return called their firebombs Molotov cocktails, as "a drink to go with the food."
  • During World War II, the Soviet soldiers dubbed the 45 mm anti-tank gun M1937 (53-K) "Good bye, Motherland!", as its penetration was proving to be inadequate for the task of destroying German tanks, meaning a crew operating one was practically defenseless against the enemy tanks.
  • During World War II, United States ships in the escort carrier category were given the ship prefix "CVE". Crews joked that this stood for "Combustible, Vulnerable, Expendable" due to the ship's complete lack of armor and high numbers of ships constructed.
  • During World War II, British and American soldiers referred to the Landing Ship, Tank, abbreviated LST, as 'Long Slow Target' or 'Large Slow Target' when facing German forces. It was 382 feet (116 m) long, but some could only manage 10–12 knots (19–22 km/h; 12–14 mph) fully laden.
  • After the Finnish coastal defence ship Ilmarinen went down with 271 fatalities after hitting a mine on 13 September 1941 the 132 survivors were nicknamed "Ilmarisen uimaseura", "Ilmarinen's swimming club."

Emergency service workers

Workers in the emergency services are also known for using black comedy:

  • Graham Wettone, a retired police officer who wrote a book How To Be A Police Officer, noted the presence of black comedy in the police force. He described it as "often not the type of humour that can be understood outside policing or the other emergency services." For example, an officer who attended four cases of suicide by hanging in six months was nicknamed "Albert" (after the hangman Albert Pierrepoint) and encountered comments like "You hanging around the canteen today?"[45]

Other

There are several titles It Only Hurts When I Laugh and Only When I Laugh, which allude to the punch of a joke which exists in numerous versions since at least 19th century. A typical setup is that someone badly hurt (e.g., a Wild West rancher with an arrow in his chest, a Jew crucified by the Nazis, etc.) is asked "Does it hurt?" — "I am fine; it only hurts when I laugh."[46][47]

In popular culture

Mercutio is stabbed in a swordfight by Tybalt, Juliet's cousin:

Romeo: "Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much."
Mercutio: "No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve: ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man."

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Dark Humor. Edited by Blake Hobby. Chelsea House Press.
  2. ^ "Black humour". britannica.com. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  3. ^ Garrick, Jacqueline and Williams, Mary Beth (2006) Trauma treatment techniques: innovative trends pp.175–6
  4. ^ Lipman, Steve (1991) Laughter in hell: the use of humor during the Holocaust, Northvale, N.J:J Aronson Inc.
  5. ^ Kurt Vonnegut (1971) Running Experiments Off: An Interview, interview by Laurie Clancy, published in Meanjin Quarterly, 30 (Autumn, 1971), pp.46–54, and in Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut, quote:

    The term was part of the language before Freud wrote an essay on it—'gallows humor.' This is middle European humor, a response to hopeless situations. It's what a man says faced with a perfectly hopeless situation and he still manages to say something funny. Freud gives examples: A man being led out to be hanged at dawn says, 'Well, the day is certainly starting well.' It's generally called Jewish humor in this country. Actually it's humor from the peasants' revolt, the forty years' war, and from the Napoleonic wars. It's small people being pushed this way and that way, enormous armies and plagues and so forth, and still hanging on in the face of hopelessness. Jewish jokes are middle European jokes and the black humorists are gallows humorists, as they try to be funny in the face of situations which they see as just horrible.

  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bloom, Harold (2010) Dark Humor, ch. On dark humor in literature, pp.80–88
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Freud (1927) Humor
  8. ^ Merhi, Vanessa M. (2006) Distortion as identity from the grotesque to l'humour noir
  9. ^ a b Real, Hermann Josef (2005) The reception of Jonathan Swift in Europe, p.90 quote:

    At least, Swift's text is preserved, and so is a prefactory note by the French writer André Breton, which emphasizes Swift's importance as the originator of black humor, of laughter that arises from cynicism and scepticism.

  10. ^ a b Lezard, Nicholas (2009-02-21). "From the sublime to the surreal". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ a b c "black humor – Dictionary definition of black humor – Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "black humor – Hutchinson encyclopedia article about black humor". Encyclopedia.farlex.com. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  13. ^ a b André Breton introduction to Swift in Anthology of Black Humor, quote:

    When it comes to black humor, everything designates him as the true initiator. In fact, it is impossible to coordinate the fugitive traces of this kind of humor before him, not even in Heraclitus and the Cynics or in the works of Elizabethan dramatic poets. [...] historically justify his being presented as the first black humorist. Contrary to what Voltaire might have said, Swift was in no sense a "perfected Rabelais." He shared to the smallest possible degree Rabelais's taste for innocent, heavy-handed jokes and his constant drunken good humor. [...] a man who grasped things by reason and never by feeling, and who enclosed himself in skepticism; [...] Swift can rightfully be considered the inventor of "savage" or "gallows" humor.

  14. ^ Thomas Leclair (1975) Death and Black Humor in Critique, Vol. 17, 1975
  15. ^ Rowe, W. Woodin (1974). "Observations on Black Humor in Gogol' and Nabokov". The Slavic and East European Journal. 18 (4): 392–399. JSTOR 306869.
  16. ^ a b Merriam-Webster, Inc (1995) Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of literature, entry black humor, p.144
  17. ^ O'Neill, Patrick (2010). "The Comedy of Entropy: The Contexts of Black Humor". In Harold Bloom; Blake Hobby. Dark Humor. Bloom's Literary Themes. New York, New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 9781438131023. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  18. ^ James Carter Talking Books: Children's Authors Talk About the Craft, Creativity and Process of Writing, Volume 2 p.97 Routledge, 2002
  19. ^ Paul Lewis, "Three Jews and a Blindfold: The Politics of Gallows Humor", In: "Semites and Stereotypes: Characteristics of Jewish Humor" (1993), ISBN 0-313-26135-0, p. 49
  20. ^ Obrdlik, Antonin J. (1942) "Gallows Humor"-A Sociological Phenomenon, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 47, No. 5 (Mar., 1942), pp. 709–716
  21. ^ Mariah Snyder, Ruth Lindquist Complementary and alternative therapies in nursing
  22. ^ Wylie Sypher quoted in ZhouRaymond, Jingqiong Carver's short fiction in the history of black humor p.132
  23. ^ Kurt Vonnegut (1971) Running Experiments Off: An Interview, in Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut quote:

    The term was part of the language before Freud wrote an essay on it – 'gallows humour.' This is middle European humour, a response to hopeless situations. It's what a man says faced with a perfectly hopeless situation and he still manages to say something funny. Freud gives examples: A man being led out to be hanged at dawn says, 'Well, the day is certainly starting well.' It's generally called Jewish humour in this country. Actually it's humour from the peasants' revolt, the thirty years' war, and from the Napoleonic wars. It's small people being pushed this way and that way, enormous armies and plagues and so forth, and still hanging on in the face of hopelessness. Jewish jokes are middle European jokes. And the black humourists are gallows humourists, as they try to be funny in the face of situations which they see as just horrible.

  24. ^ Redfern, W. D. and Redfern, Walter (2005) Calembours, ou les puns et les autres : traduit de l'intraduisible , p.211 quote:

    Des termes parents du Galgenhumor sont: : comédie noire, plaisanterie macabre, rire jaune. (J'en offre un autre: gibêtises).

  25. ^ Müller, Walter (1961) Französische Idiomatik nach Sinngruppen, p.178 quote:

    humour macabre, humeur de désespéré, (action de) rire jaune Galgenhumor propos guilleret etwas freie, gewagte Äußerung

  26. ^ Dupriez, Bernard Marie (1991) A dictionary of literary devices: gradus, A-Z, p.313 quote:

    Walter Redfern, discussing puns about death, remarks: 'Related terms to gallows humour are: black comedy, sick humour, rire jaune. In all, pain and pleasure are mixed, perhaps the definitive recipe for all punning' (Puns, p. 127).

  27. ^ Brachin, Pierre (1985) The Dutch language: a survey pp.101–2
  28. ^ Claude et Marcel De Grève, Françoise Wuilmart, TRADUCTION / Translation Archived 2011-05-19 at the Wayback Machine, section Histoire et théorie de la traduction – Recherches sur les microstructures, in: Grassin, Jean-Marie (ed.), DITL (Dictionnaire International des Termes Littéraires), [22 Nov 2010]"
  29. ^ (1950) Zaïre, Volume 4, Part 1, p.138 quote:

    En français on dit « rire jaune », en flamand « groen lachen »

  30. ^ Chédel, André (1965) Description moderne des langues du monde: le latin et le grec inutile? p.171 quote:

    Les termes jaune, vert, bleu évoquent en français un certain nombre d'idées qui sont différentes de celles que suscitent les mots holandais correspondants geel, groen, blauw. Nous disons : rire jaune, le Hollandais dit : rire vert ( groen lachen ) ; ce que le Néerlandais appelle un vert (een groentje), c'est ce qu'en français on désigne du nom de bleu (un jeune soldat inexpéribenté)... On voit que des confrontations de ce genre permettent de concevoir une étude de la psychologie des peuples fondée sur les associations d'idées que révèlent les variations de sens (sémantique), les expressions figurées, les proverbes et les dictions.

  31. ^ Pardo, Denise (2001) Interview with Daniele Luttazzi, in L'Espresso, February 1st, 2001 quote:

    Q: Critiche feroci, interrogazioni parlamentari: momenti duri per la satira.

    A: Satira è far ridere a spese di chi è più ricco e potente di te. Io sono specialista nella risata verde, quella dei cabaret di Berlino degli anni Venti e Trenta. Nasce dalla disperazione. Esempio: l'Italia è un paese dove la commissione di vigilanza parlamentare Rai si comporta come la commissione stragi e viceversa. Oppure: il mistero di Ustica è irrisolto? Sono contento: il sistema funziona.

  32. ^ Daniele Luttazzi (2004) Interview, in the Italian edition of Rolling Stone, November 2004. Quote:

    racconto di satira grottesca [...] L'obiettivo del grottesco è far percepire l'orrore di una vicenda. Non è la satira cui siamo abituati in Italia: la si ritrova nel cabaret degli anni '20 e '30, poi è stata cancellata dal carico di sofferenze della guerra. Aggiungo che io avevo spiegato in apertura di serata che ci sarebbero stati momenti di satira molto diversi. Satira ironica, che fa ridere, e satira grottesca, che può far male. Perché porta alla risata della disperazione, dell'impotenza. La risata verde. Era forte, perché coinvolgeva in un colpo solo tutti i cardini satirici: politica, religione, sesso e morte. Quello che ho fatto è stato accentuare l'interazione tra gli elementi. Non era di buon gusto? Rabelais e Swift, che hanno esplorato questi lati oscuri della nostra personalità, non si sono mai posti il problema del buon gusto.

  33. ^ a b Marmo, Emanuela (2004) Interview with Daniele Luttazzi (March 2004) quote:

    Quando la satira poi riesce a far ridere su un argomento talmente drammatico di cui si ride perché non c'è altra soluzione possibile, si ha quella che nei cabaret di Berlino degli Anni '20 veniva chiamata la “risata verde”. È opportuno distinguere una satira ironica, che lavora per sottrazione, da una satira grottesca, che lavora per addizione. Questo secondo tipo di satira genera più spesso la risata verde. Ne erano maestri Kraus e Valentin.

  34. ^ "Famous Last Words". Thought Catalog. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  35. ^ Gover, Dominic (2013-09-03). "Seamus Heaney, Steve Jobs, Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx: Famous Last Words". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  36. ^ Man, John (10 February 2011). Samurai. Transworld. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-4090-1105-7.
  37. ^ Hughes, Robert. "The Fatal Shore." Vintage Books. New York. 1986. Page 196.
  38. ^ "Louis XV victime d'un attentat – 5 janvier 1757 | Coutumes et Traditions". web.archive.org. 2015-06-10. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  39. ^ A.V. Arnault, Souvenirs d’un sexagénaire, librairie Dufey, Paris, 1833. Re-released : Champion, Paris, 2003. Available on Gallica.
  40. ^ Roper, William (1909–14). The Life of Sir Thomas More. New York: Collier & Son.
  41. ^ Witticisms Of 9 Condemned Criminals Archived 2008-03-14 at the Wayback Machine at Canongate Press
  42. ^ "Read President Reagan's Best Jokes About Being Shot". Time. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  43. ^ "Icons of England, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17.
  44. ^ "The Fighting at Jutland". Kipling Society. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  45. ^ Wettone, Graham (2017). "1". How To Be A Police Officer. Biteback. p. 4. ISBN 9781785902192.
  46. ^ Leon Rappoport, Punchlines: The Case for Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Humor, p. 83
  47. ^ "The Joke Stops Here", Memphis Flyer
American Psycho (film)

American Psycho is a 2000 black comedy horror film co-written and directed by Mary Harron, based on Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel of the same name. It stars Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Mathis, Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon.

Producer Edward R. Pressman purchased the film rights to the novel in 1992. After discussions with David Cronenberg fell through, Harron was brought on to direct and cast Bale in the lead role. Lionsgate acquired worldwide distribution in 1997 and temporarily replaced Harron and Bale with Oliver Stone as director and Leonardo DiCaprio portraying Patrick Bateman. DiCaprio left in favor of The Beach and Harron and Bale were brought back. American Psycho debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2000, and was released theatrically on April 14, 2000. The film was a financial success and received generally positive reviews, with much of the praise directed to Bale's performance and the screenplay.

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is a 2018 American biographical crime film directed by Spike Lee and written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Lee, based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth, along with Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace. Set in 1970s Colorado Springs, the plot follows the first African-American detective in the city's police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

The film is produced by Lee, Raymond Mansfield, Shaun Redick, Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, and Jordan Peele. Redick purchased the film rights to the book in 2015, and Lee signed on as director in September 2017. Much of the cast joined the following month, and filming began in New York State.

BlacKkKlansman premiered on May 14, 2018, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It was theatrically released in the United States on August 10, 2018, coinciding with the first anniversary of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally. The film received acclaim from critics, with praise for the performances (particularly of Washington and Driver) and timely themes, as well as noting it as a return to form for Lee. It received six nominations at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Lee (his first directing nomination), and Best Supporting Actor for Driver. The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the 2018. At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, it earned four nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Comedy film

Comedy is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to make the audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. Films in this style traditionally have a happy ending (black comedy being an exception). One of the oldest genres in film, some of the very first silent movies were comedies, as slapstick comedy often relies on visual depictions, without requiring sound. When sound films became more prevalent during the 1920s, comedy films took another swing, as laughter could result from burlesque situations but also dialogue.

Comedy, compared with other film genres, puts much more focus on individual stars, with many former stand-up comics transitioning to the film industry due to their popularity. While many comic films are lighthearted stories with no intent other than to amuse, others contain political or social commentary (such as The King of Comedy and Wag the Dog).

Comedy horror

Comedy horror is a literary and film genre that combines elements of comedy and horror fiction. Comedy horror has been described as able to be categorized under three types: "black comedy, parody and spoof." It often crosses over with the black comedy genre. Comedy horror can also parody or subtly spoof horror clichés as its main source of humour or use those elements to take a story in a different direction, for example in The Cabin in the Woods.

Author Bruce G. Hallenbeck cites the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving as "the first great comedy horror story". The story made readers "laugh one moment and scream the next", and its premise was based on mischief typically found during the holiday Halloween.

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American crime drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Frank Pierson, and produced by Martin Bregman and Martin Elfand. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning, Chris Sarandon, Penelope Allen, James Broderick, Lance Henriksen, and Carol Kane. The title refers to the sultry "dog days" of summer.

The film was inspired by P. F. Kluge's article "The Boys in the Bank" in LIFE magazine, about a similar robbery of a Brooklyn bank by John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale on August 22, 1972.

The film received critical acclaim upon its September 1975 release by Warner Bros., some of which referred to its anti-establishment tone. Dog Day Afternoon was nominated for several Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In 2009, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Fargo (TV series)

Fargo is an American black comedy–crime drama anthology television series created and primarily written by Noah Hawley. The show is inspired by the eponymous 1996 film written and directed by the Coen brothers, who serve as executive producers on the series alongside Hawley. The series premiered on April 15, 2014, on FX, and follows an anthology format, with each season set in a different era, and with a different story and mostly new characters and cast, although there is minor overlap. Each season shares a common chronology with the original film.

The first season, set in 2006 and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, and Martin Freeman, received positive reviews from critics. It won the Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Directing, and Outstanding Casting, and received 15 additional nominations including Outstanding Writing, another Outstanding Directing nomination, and acting nominations for all four leads. It also won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Miniseries or Television Film and Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film for Thornton.

The second season, set in 1979 and starring Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, and Ted Danson, also received positive reviews from critics. It received three Golden Globe nominations, along with several Emmy nominations including Outstanding Miniseries, and acting nominations for Dunst, Plemons, Smart, and Bokeem Woodbine.

The third season, set in 2010 and starring Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Goran Bogdan, and David Thewlis, premiered on April 19, 2017. It was met with positive reviews from critics, and received Emmy nominations including Outstanding Miniseries, and acting nominations for McGregor, Coon, and Thewlis. It received three Golden Globe nominations, for Outstanding Limited Series, and McGregor and Thewlis for acting, with McGregor winning in his category.

A fourth season is currently in development, to start filming in fall 2019 with Chris Rock to star. It will be set in 1950 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kick-Ass (film)

Kick-Ass is a 2010 superhero black comedy film based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. which was published by Marvel Comics. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced with Brad Pitt and co-wrote the screenplay with Jane Goldman. The film was produced in Toronto, Canada. Its general release was on 25 March 2010 in the United Kingdom and on 16 April 2010 in the United States. It is the first installment of the Kick-Ass film series.

It tells the story of an ordinary teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who sets out to become a real-life superhero, calling himself "Kick-Ass". Dave gets caught up in a bigger fight when he meets Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), a former cop who, in his quest to bring down the crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his son Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), has trained his eleven-year-old daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) to be the ruthless vigilante Hit-Girl.

Despite having generated some controversy for its profanity and violence performed by a child, Kick-Ass was well received by both critics and audiences. In 2011 it won the Empire Award for Best British Film. The film has gained a strong cult following since its release on DVD and Blu-ray. A sequel, written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and produced by Vaughn, was released in August 2013, with Johnson, Mintz-Plasse, and Moretz reprising their roles.

Kick-Ass 2 (film)

Kick-Ass 2 is a 2013 superhero black comedy film based on the comic book of the same name and Hit-Girl, both by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., and is the sequel to the 2010 film Kick-Ass. The film was written and directed in Toronto, Canada by Jeff Wadlow and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloë Grace Moretz reprise their roles from the first film as Dave Lizewski, Chris D'Amico, and Mindy Macready, respectively. Other returning actors include Clark Duke, Yancy Butler, Garrett M. Brown, Lyndsy Fonseca and Sophie Wu.

The film was shot in Canada and England in the second semester of 2012, and released on August 14, 2013 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and on August 16 in the United States. Matthew Vaughn's production company Marv Films produced the film alongside Plan B Entertainment, Dentsu and Universal Pictures. Kick-Ass 2 earned $60.7 million on a $28 million budget. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics deemed it inferior to its predecessor.

MASH (film)

MASH (styled M*A*S*H) is a 1970 American black comedy war film directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner Jr., based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The picture is the only theatrically released feature film in the M*A*S*H franchise, and it became one of the biggest films of the early 1970s for 20th Century Fox.

The film depicts a unit of medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War. It stars Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, and Elliott Gould, with Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, René Auberjonois, Gary Burghoff, Roger Bowen, Michael Murphy, and in his film debut, professional football player Fred Williamson. Although the Korean War is the film's storyline setting, the subtext is about the Vietnam War, that was taking place all throughout the film's production and release.The film won Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, later named Palme d'Or, at 1970 Cannes Film Festival. The film went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Adapted Screenplay. MASH was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The Academy Film Archive preserved MASH in 2000. The film inspired the television series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983.

Mental Hai Kya

Mental Hai Kya (transl. Are you insane?; Hindi pronunciation: [ɦeː kjaː]) is an upcoming Indian masala black comedy crime-thriller film starring Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Amyra Dastur, Jimmy Shergill, Amrita Puri and Mimoh Chakraborty. Shah Rukh Khan will have an extended cameo in the movie. It is produced by Ekta Kapoor and directed by Prakash Kovelamudi; the screenplay was written by Kanika Dhillon. The principal photography of the film began on 16 May 2018. The film will release on 29 March 2019. Music rights are owned by T-Series.

Richard Pryor

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, and social critic. Pryor was known for uncompromising examinations of racism and topical contemporary issues, which employed vulgarities and profanity, as well as racial epithets. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time.

Pryor's body of work includes the concert movies and recordings: Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin' (1971), That Nigger's Crazy (1974), ...Is It Something I Said? (1975), Bicentennial Nigger (1976), Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), and Richard Pryor: Here and Now (1983). As an actor, he starred mainly in comedies such as Silver Streak (1976), but occasionally in dramas, such as Paul Schrader's Blue Collar (1978), or action films, such as Superman III (1983). He collaborated on many projects with actor Gene Wilder. Another frequent collaborator was actor/comedian/writer Paul Mooney.

Pryor won an Emmy Award (1973) and five Grammy Awards (1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, and 1982). In 1974, he also won two American Academy of Humor awards and the Writers Guild of America Award. The first-ever Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was presented to him in 1998. He was listed at number one on Comedy Central's list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians. In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked him first on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.

Robot Chicken

Robot Chicken is an American stop motion sketch comedy television series, created and executive produced for Adult Swim by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich along with co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root. The writers, especially Green, also provide many of the voices. Senreich, Goldstein, and Root were formerly writers for the popular action figure hobbyist magazine ToyFare. Robot Chicken has won an Annie Award and six Emmy Awards.

Sausage Party

Sausage Party is a 2016 American-Canadian adult computer-animated black comedy film directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon and written by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg from a story by Rogen, Goldberg and Jonah Hill. It stars the voices of Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton and Salma Hayek. A spoof of Disney and Pixar films, the film centers on an anthropomorphic sausage named Frank who tries to discover the truth about his existence and goes on a journey with his friends to escape their fate while also facing his own nemesis, a psychopathic douche who wants to kill him and his friends.

It is the first American fully computer-animated film to be rated R by the MPAA and the second one overall. The film's rough cut premiered on March 14, 2016, at South by Southwest and the film was theatrically released in the United States and Canada on August 12, 2016, by Columbia Pictures.The film received positive reviews from critics, with many particularly praising the humor, animation design, voice acting, screenplay and direction. It also became a box office success, grossing more than $140 million and topping South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) as the highest grossing R-rated animated film of all time.

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 horror comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, co-written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg plays Shaun, a directionless Londoner who is caught in an apocalyptic zombie uprising. The film was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for a BAFTA. It is the first in Wright and Pegg's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, followed by 2007's Hot Fuzz and 2013's The World's End.

That's My Boy (2012 film)

That's My Boy is a 2012 American satirical dark comedy film directed by Sean Anders and starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. The film is about an alcoholic slacker named Donny Berger (Sandler) who fathered a son (Samberg) with his teacher as a teenager. Donny owes $43,000 in back taxes and will have to serve a three-year prison sentence if he does not pay it off by the end of the weekend, which happens to be his son's wedding weekend.

Released on June 15, 2012 by Columbia Pictures, it was a critical and financial failure, grossing just $57 million against a $70 million budget.

The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin is a 2017 political satire black comedy film written and directed by Armando Iannucci and co-written by David Schneider, Ian Martin and Peter Fellows. It stars Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, and Jeffrey Tambor, with Olga Kurylenko, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian McLoughlin, and Paul Whitehouse appearing in support roles. Based on the French graphic novel La Mort de Staline, the film depicts the power struggle following the death of Soviet revolutionary and politician Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) in 1953.

The Death of Stalin was screened in the Platform section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received critical acclaim. It was released by eOne Films in the United Kingdom on 20 October 2017, in the United States by IFC Films on 9 March 2018, and in France on 4 April 2018. The film was banned in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan due to its perceived anti-Soviet theme. It received a Magritte Award nomination in the category of Best Foreign Film.

The Dictator (2012 film)

The Dictator is a 2012 political satire comedy film co-written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen as his fourth feature film in a leading role. The film is directed by Larry Charles, who previously directed Baron Cohen's mockumentaries Borat and Brüno. Baron Cohen, in the role of Admiral General Aladeen, the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya visiting the United States, stars alongside Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, Jason Mantzoukas, and an uncredited appearance by John C. Reilly.

Producers Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel said that Baron Cohen's character was inspired by real-life leaders considered dictators like Kim Jong-il, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Mobutu Sese Seko and Saparmurat Niyazov. The film's opening credits dedicate it to Kim Jong-il, "in loving memory".

Tosh.0

Tosh.0 ( TOSH poynt OH) is an American television series hosted and produced by comedian Daniel Tosh, who provides commentary on online viral video clips, society, celebrities, stereotypes, and popular culture as a whole. It premiered in the United States on June 4, 2009 on Comedy Central. The tone is based on Tosh's deliberately offensive and controversial style of black comedy, observational comedy, satire, and sarcasm. The show has reached No. 1 ratings for its timeslot among men within the ages of 18–24, reaching millions of viewers at a time.

Vice (2018 film)

Vice is a 2018 American biographical comedy-drama film written and directed by Adam McKay. The film stars Christian Bale as former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, with Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Jesse Plemons, Tyler Perry, and Justin Kirk in supporting roles. The film follows Cheney on his path to become the most powerful Vice President in American history. It is the second theatrical film to depict the presidency of George W. Bush following Oliver Stone's W. (2008).

Vice was released in the United States on December 25, 2018 by Annapurna Pictures. The film divided critics as some lauded it as "cleverly biting" while others denounced it as "a clumsy display of political hatred", with McKay's screenplay and direction receiving both "scathing critiques and celebratory praise". Despite the polarized reception for the film itself, the performances, particularly those of Bale and Adams, received universal praise.The film received numerous awards and nominations, including eight nominations at the 91st Academy Awards (including a nomination for Best Picture), a leading six nominations at the 76th Golden Globe Awards (including a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy), and six nominations at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards. For their performances, Bale, Adams and Rockwell were nominated at all three shows, with Bale winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

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