On Blogging Sundance, Jason Calacanis wonders if there should not be a separate award at the Sundance Film Festival for Comedy, citing that funny films just can’t compete against films that are “socially important.”
I’m of two minds on this. I can see the value of having an award… comedy is far too often overlooked, not just for awards, but as something that does contribute to society in valuable ways. Having a separate award would certainly give some well-deserved attention on people not grinding out ha-ha films for Hollywood. And it could start creating a higher standard for film comedy, which tends far to often to rely on premises that are only sketch-thin.
But I dislike putting comedy aside, like it’s something incapable of reaching the heights of a dramatic film. It can and has (see “Doctor Strangelove”). Look at how powerful late night monologues have come about defining our political leaders, traits that were broadly stroked by Johnny Carson have become pinpointedly defined by Jon Stewart. There’s no reason why film comedy can’t be as effective in defining our times.
I’m also well aware that a reason why comedy can reach people better is that they’re guard is down. They aren’t expecting something good for you… something “socially important.” Let dramatists beat people over the heads with “points” and receive the accolades. Far better to be ignored and have the ideas sink in the back way.