Book: Sounding Funny
Chapter: Sounding Funny: the importance of hearing (as well as seeing) the joke
Comedy is a genre that many commentators and practitioners find how to analyze. It is as if there is something immeasurable about the genre – somehow its range or affect is so subjective that it defies sustained exploration and documentation. Here we seek to explore how comedy on screen works and why its composition has been such a puzzle – suggesting that an important element in the comedic address is often not acknowledged- the role of sound in creating and confirming genre. This chapter serves as an introduction to the collection of case study essays to follow as well as a provocation for further study – calling future researchers to remember that just one sound, the sound of laughter, often creates and confirms comedy’s very presence. We outline some key types of film comedy address here and provide frameworks to recognize them, as well as suggesting areas of inquiry still left as yet unattended. The authors argue that as with all film sound analysis, those interested in comedy should remember the importance of hearing, as well as seeing, the elements that contribute to the art form’s affect.