Where has the contemporary comedy, which takes itself and the genre seriously, gotten to? We have trained our searchlight on the latest in comical.
Historically speaking, comedy is one of the most important and most popular film genres and, ever since the birth of film, several artists have demonstrated, that it can also be more than just brain-dead entertainment for the masses. With an heightened focus on timing, situations and the sharp retort, the great comedians of our time, from Max Linder, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton through Howard Hawks, Jacques Tati and Preston Sturges to Takeshi Kitano, Roy Andersson and Ricky Gervais, have proven that comedy can also be an art.
But where is the modern film comedy, which is willing to take itself and its genre seriously? Have the comic talents changed strategy since then? These are among the questions, we have asked ourselves, in our endeavour to find out what comedy looks like right now.
Central to film comedy at present, is most certainly the Japanese stand-up comedian, Hitoshi Matsumoto, who stood for the cult-favoured crazy comedies, 'Big Man Japan' and 'Symbol'. In his third film as director, Scabbard Samurai', Matsumoto has dived into a story about a sulking, disillusioned samurai, who must get a little prince to laugh. The result is a sword- and kimono-swishing drama and a subversive, adroit comedy about how difficult it is to be funny.
Our film selection also presents, for the first time on Danish screens, the American comic duo, Tim & Eric who, with their low-key, anarchic internet-sketches, have secured themselves a full-blown cult following back home, which can also be felt here in Denmark. We are showing their first feature film, 'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie'. Brand new and self-directed.
They both act also in Rick Alverson's 'The Comedy', which seeks a very alternative approach to comedy, by positioning it in an absolutely non-jovial setting. 'The Comedy' maintains its balance between sudden, absurd gags and an empathic severity, and is a rare example of an intelligent comedy about humor as a defence against the tough times in life.
The comedic revolution right now is, however, is to be found not so much in feature films, but in short and often internet-oriented formats. We have therefore collected, in two programmes ('Art as Comedy', 'Stand up, Sit Down, and Visual Art Comedy Today') respectively, film and video artists, who have employed deadpan humour in their works and a very special program, consisting some of the most obvious new talents, from Tim & Eric and Sacha Baron Cohen to Alex Bag and Zach Galifianakis.
A whole evening is dedicated to, in our mind, one of the great comedic talents right now; the american underground director, Mike Stoklasa, who took the world by storm with his YouTube-based, and cult-worshipped mock reviews of blockbuster films. We present his major piece, The Phantom Menace Review', together with a series of specially chosen surprises. These will be introduced by Mike Stoklasa himself, here to meet the Danish audience, and talk about his unique brand of humour.
We have also found room for a look into the past. See the legendary performer and stand-up comedian, Lenny Bruce, in his penultimate performance, which clearly operates in the grey zone between art and satire. Scathingly aggressive as his signature style always was. Bruce became a "role model" for many later American, as well as Danish comedians, but amongst the best known, are Albert Brooks and Andy Kaufman. We have found a series of rarities and "greatest hits" from their creative minds.