In Praise Of Slow Comedy

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 30 2012 @ 3:40pm

After having a surprisingly emotional reaction to an episode of Louie (a scene of which is above), Matt Shafeek pens an essay on the value of comedy that stays grounded and takes its time:

There has been a shift over the years from the traditional sitcom format, where storylines have been shortened and situations are heightened in order to pack in as many jokes as possible.  This leads to worlds and characters on shows that range from slightly off to utterly ridiculous.

Shows like 30 Rock, Family Guy and Children's Hospital are prime examples of this. They’re often very funny, (as far as my taste goes) but at the same time incapable of pulling off a scene out of Louie (and vice-versa, it should be noted. Louie will never reach the heights of comedic insanity those other shows are capable of). Closer to other side of the spectrum, you have shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and for the most part, Community (which toes the line on how realistic its world is at times, though the show makes it a point to keep the focus on its very human characters) that, while not willing to go on for huge chunks of time without an attempt at a laugh, will usually avoid sacrificing character development or a sweet, genuine moment for the sake of a joke.

The people involved in these kinds of shows, on stage and off, see the value in slowing down, keeping the story grounded, and never, ever forcing any laughs. Sometimes this leads to hilarious discoveries. Other times, it leads somewhere less amusing, but still completely honest – to an interesting bit of theater, let’s say. And that’s great, because who says comedy only exists to make you laugh?