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Comedic Advice From Silent Film

By , 5 February, 2010, No Comment

At the Silent Film Archive, I found this scan of an article in the June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal, by Raymond Griffith, titled What People Laugh at and What They Don’t.

Page From June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal

Page From June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal

In this article you’ll find not only the golden keys to comedy, but proof that silent film comedies weren’t made merely of cheap simple sight gags like slipping on banana peels — in fact, the reason why I’ve never found slipping on bananas is actually mentioned in this article:

we even laugh when a man slips on a banana peel although that is not a healthy laugh for the next moment we realize he may have suffered real injury.

In my humble opinion, when you read this old article, you’ll see where many of today’s comedies, comedians, sitcoms, and cartoons have gone wrong; rather than focusing on discomfort and shared embarrassments, much of today’s comedic productions are just simply mean.

Comedies must be clean and wholesome. That is very important. We may laugh at the joke of a comedy situation that is off-color, but we don’t mean it. The laugh is no more sincere when the cause is the man slipping and falling on a banana peel.

You can see and read the rest of the article here — I hope you do, and that you’ll let me know your thoughts.

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  • Kimba

    Just stumbled upon your blog…DELIGHTFUL! Having recently seen Cirque du Soliel’s Bananaschpeel (a modern take on classic vaudville), I must agree entirely! Most of modern comedy falls much flatter than the slip on the banana peel.

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