As I continue to edit the film, I’ve spent some time thinking about the nature of comedy. I always thought the key to comedy was timing and surprise, but I’ve been catching up on Arrested Development in anticipation for May 26th, and what promises to be the single greatest TV binge session ever (I just hope the entire internet doesn’t collapse). It’s a series I’ve watched many times, so why do I still laugh, not only at the jokes I know well, but at the setups for jokes that will come later? I laughed so hard at the scene where Tobias is in the bathtub with the camera phone because I immediately thought about Henry Winkler’s line ten minutes later that would pay it off. It is the same with The Big Lebowski. I wasn’t a huge fan the first time I watched it, but a few years later when my roommate made me watch it again, I found myself chuckling when Maud keeps telling The Dude to go see the doctor, “He’s a good man. And thorough.” What makes a comedy worth watching over and over again? Is it a matter of having good setups that pay off much later? You don’t really notice the setup the first time you watch it, but the second time…
Can you think of any other examples of setups that really made you laugh the second time around? Or other comedies that just get better with each viewing?
(By the way, if you happen to be a fan of The Big Lebowski, there is a great pub here in Edinburgh called Lebowski’s, they have a few subtle things on the walls related to the film, but the real attraction is the drinks list. They have twenty-one different white russians, one for each character in the film. I’m trying to make my way through the list. This is The Jackie Treehorn:)
(Made with Bolivian coca leaf liqueur, Kahlua coffee liqueur and 50/50 milk and cream.)