The Problem with Comedy Films

A few weeks ago we were in a shop and overheard a conversation between two people about horror films. Person B asked person A about a film, which was a comedy. Person A responded, “I don’t like comedy.” My gut reaction, as may be yours, was, “HOW CAN SOMEONE NOT LIKE COMEDY?!” Nicole and I had looked at each other, utterly aghast.

But as we walked home, I thought about it a bit more. What would make a person not like comedy? Then I realized, and I don’t know if this was Person A’s reason, but a reason I could think of is, is there a comedy film that doesn’t punch down?

In comedy there’s the idea of punching down vs punching up. Punching down is basically making fun of people who are already marginalized. Punching down is easy. Punching down is also super gross as it often manifests in misogyny, racism, transphobia, etc. You can read more about punching up here.

Anyway, my question: What comedy film can I think of that doesn’t punch down? One that doesn’t make fun of any people of color, doesn’t mock women, doesn’t shit on fat people, doesn’t shit on disabled people, isn’t antisemetic, doesn’t make fun of “ugly” people, those people who don’t fit into arbitrary standards of beauty, doesn’t mock LGBTQIA2S community members?

I couldn’t think of one that I could definitively say, “This comedy film does not punch down.” I’m totally open to hearing if you know of any because I’ve been fascinated by my own question for weeks now.

But viewing comedy films via that lens makes me think that yeah, I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t like comedy.

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1 Response

  1. Rachelle Wieler says:

    I’ve never actually thought about it before… not precisely like that. But… I do not like comedy films either. Not what would typically fall under that umbrella. I do like intelligent humor, and will watch a funny movie that makes you think about the punchline. But the genre comedy is not really for me.

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