Furthering the Narrative of Standup Through Gags. Taylor, Blog 1.

Crafton believes that narrative and gags are separate from one another, as he explains in his essay “Pie and Chase: Gag, Spectacle and Narrative in Slapstick Comedy”, from the book Classical Hollywood Comedy. But even in the context of the film that he is referring to, His Wooden Wedding (Leo McCarey, 2005), there is a gag that itself is needed in order to further the narrative. The scene where Charley convinces the woman passenger to dance the Charleston in order to shake the ring loose from her undergarments is needed, especially in the context of “the chase”. Crafton states that the gag is disrupting the narrative, but here we see that in order for Charley to continue his own chase after the ring, this gag is needed. Now this can also seen in completely different type of comedy. In Iliza Shlesinger’s standup routine Confirmed Kills (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2016), she utilizes certain types of gags in order to further on her narrative. Now her gags are quite different than those seen in Slapstick, but through the usage of assorted sound effects and visual cues, we end up with roughly the same result. 


Throughout this bit Shlesinger embodies her Party Goblin as part of the gag, which also gives the audience more information about the narrative. Obviously there is a large difference between the two, due to Slapstick relying entirely on visual cues, whereas with Standup comedy, the visual cues are playing off of the verbal. Now the gags in Standup may not be as elaborate as they are in Slapstick, but they result in laughter and we are at a new point in the story at the end of them. But rather than seeming to be a compilation of gags with an incoherent narrative, we end up with an incredibly structured narrative where the gags (her jokes and impersonations) help us to better understand and better appreciate the narrative itself.

One comment

  1. I really liked how you made the connection between gags and standup comedy. I thought the bridge between the two helped clarify the similarities to both, and also the structured relationship of how they are presented to an audience.

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