Slapstick and Narrative the Pie and Chase by Amanda McAfee

The gag harkens back to the early era of the cinema of attractions which relied on the absurd and over exaggerations that surpass the limitations of reality.  Gags outline the nature of slapstick as a genre that does not adhere to the limitations of reality, patterns, and ritual protocols which we are familiar with.  Crafton identifies the instant narrative as a narrative derived from the assumed common knowledge that those viewing His Wooden Wedding (Leo McCarey, 1925, USA) would be familiar with the protocol of a wedding ceremony.  The instant narrative creates a familiar backdrop upon which the gag can operate.  In the clip linked below from Johnny English Reborn (Oliver Parker, 2011, USA) the instant narrative of the protocol with which one should adhere to in a formal meeting informs the gag’s micro-narrative.  The gag neither impedes narrative progress nor furthers it yet Crafton outlines a dualist theory about the nature of slapstick wherein the Pie halts or sidetracks the narrative and the Chase progresses the narrative.  Crafton recognizes the micro-narratives that are often present in a gag but need not further the greater narrative.  Gags need not be either or as seen in the clip they can happen alongside the narrative, it is the repertoire between narrative and gag that validates them as being more than “potholes” on the way to a greater plot.  Tom Gunning makes this important distinction between the excuse of a gag and the point of one to clarify its purpose alongside narrative.  Gags can hence be a source for understanding the diegetic metaphysics is a parody of reality and the core of slapstick.  I believe slapstick as a genre is defined by the interplay of the expected or instant narrative that Crafton outlines and gags that subvert reality.

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