Literature Reviews Blog

I have created this blog to illustrate my thoughts and ideas with literature reviews as well as my dissertation. The literature reviews will help me form my ideas and will help with my dissertation…


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Comedy Dies of Old Age

Comedy has the shortest shelf-life of any entertainment genre.

Going back to watch a lot of Adam Sandler movies as an adult is a painful experience. You can remember watching them as a kid and laughing your ass off, only to go back to it as an adult and cringe the whole way through. The jokes don’t land. At all. You might write it off as just saying “Oh, it’s a comedy. I get the jokes. It isn’t funny anymore.”

But then you’ll watch that horror film that scared you as a kid, and still have a good time. Maybe it’s as scary as it was the day you saw it. Maybe it’s so cheesy you can’t help but laugh at — or even with — it. But, whatever the case may be, that survives the test of time.

So why can’t comedy?

It’s true even for comedies you catch a little too late. Watch an old comedy from the 80s or 70s. Or, worse, earlier. You find either most of the jokes are all that funny or a good deal of the jokes are just kinda unpleasant.

That’s not to say no comedies survive. Mel Brooks’s films survive the test of time. Airplane is a classic. Oddly enough, a lot of horror-comedies still hold up. And slapstick has an eternal shelf life even if most of it is repetitious.

But the vast majority don’t. And the reason for that, I believe, is simple: we grew up.

A well-timed joke is funny. Sometimes.

Comedy is a tough nut to crack because what is funny one year might not be funny next year. We see this with the proliferation of the internet meme. Overexposure to a concept can leave people bored of it. They want to move onto the next thing, and the next thing is always there a second before you tell your joke based on the old thing.

Dated pop culture references date a story. Given a few years, they lose all relevance.

Consider the “parody movies” craze of the 00s. Scary Movie, when it came out, was pretty stupid then. Its target audience was either too young or too uninformed to realize the movie it satirized, Scream, was already a satire. But to many, it had some funny jokes. Some quotable lines.

Given several sequels and several imitators, however, everyone for years thought all you needed to make a…

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