Is Comedy Really Harder?

A short post on the complexity of comedy.

Recently I connected with a local filmmaker and shared a few short screenplays I have written. I wrote these with the intention of getting a local director interested in making one of these projects. Why not me? At the time I felt that trying to direct something with (gasp) actors would be too difficult and challenging – in part because my main role presently is watching my children.

In my discussions with this filmmaker about the shared scripts and filmmaking in general both of us came to a similar conclusion: while the serious, dramatic, films are interesting and appealing what we’d both like to make is a comedy. Being the writer of the pair I was then tasked with coming up with something comedic to make.

Flash forward a few months and no screenplay is finished. Why is this? In part it is because I have been attempting to complete other projects, continue the work I do with a non-profit and that day to day life with two young children is challenging. The truth though is that writing comedy is hard.

Why is it hard? First, the expectations. When people list great movies, when they list their favorite movies, usually (if they are thinking of posterity or the other people in the room) they do not mention comedies. Why is this? Why are comedies dismissed as not being great films? As being important films?

I do not have a good answer. I do know that there is a film that tackles this very subject and it does it better than I ever will – Sullivan’s Travels. If you have not seen this film you should. It’s interesting, it’s funny and it has a fairly important message. If I had to try and convey the message it is this: most people have fairly unpleasant or depressing lives, so when you try and make your important, realistic film, that makes the audience suffer as the protagonist suffers – they don’t enjoy the film. Most people want to watch a movie for some form of enjoyment.


Michael Moore said something about this in his article “13 Rules for Making Documentary Films”

And the audience, the people who’ve worked hard all week — it’s Friday night, and they want to go to the movies. They want the lights to go down and be taken somewhere. They don’t care whether you make them cry, whether you make them laugh, whether you even challenge them to think — but damn it, they don’t want to be lectured, they don’t want to see our invisible wagging finger popping out of the screen. They want to be entertained.

The awards season is pretty much here again and with it the usual nonsense of each site or magazine publishing variations of the same stories about the same films and people. And each one is about an important movie or an important actor and the incredible important film they are in. Which is not to diminish films that have something they wish to say – I enjoy films with purpose greatly. I do, however, question the need to make films that torture the audience.

What annoys me is how there are entire genres that are dismissed out of hand when it comes time to hand out praise. Not that awards are a reason to make art. Not that praise from critics or even the general public are a reason to make art. But given that filmmaking is largely a business, whether some of us would like to admit this or not, if you wish to continue making films they have to be successful. If you wish to be given the opportunity to make films in the first place you have to sell others on the idea that the finished product will be successful.

Which is why when you look at what Blumhouse has done and how they are thriving, regardless of what you think about the films they make, you have to applaud them for figuring things out and making it work. The movies they release make money, which allows them to keep making movies. The same can be said for Tyler Perry (and of course other people and production companies). I mention these two as they have been successful financially but less so with critics and award committees.

Coming back to comedy all I can say is it is a challenge. Filmmakers and actors like Judd Apatow. Mike Meyers, Adam Sandler and Taika Waititi all are struggling to connect with audiences. What worked before no longer seems to be working. I’m not sure if, in part, this is due to the flood of short form content on social media that is largely comedic. Feature length films and sitcoms are entirely different animals that fulfill different needs. I know there a plenty of sitcoms that are airing and are successful. I’m not sure if the people watching those are bothering with the films being released. Why is this?

I don’t think anyone really knows. What I do know is that sitting down and trying to write a funny scene is much harder for me than trying to write a dramatic one. Creating characters who are struggling to get through a funeral is an easier task then writing a humorous cooking scene between a mother and teenage daughter. It is an interesting situation to find myself in and I can’t help but wonder if it is a personal limitation or if comedy really is that much harder to do.

The KFC Gaming Console

A post where I imagine a world of possibilities.

Since learning about KFC Gaming it’s been hard to think about anything else. How are we not all talking about this? Will it lead to other companies making gaming consoles? Imagine other fast food chains incorporating their products into a gaming console! This fills me with glee.

In case some of you are still in the dark, the main feature of this console is the “chicken chamber”. From their website –

Never risk letting your chicken go cold again thanks to the patented Chicken Chamber. Utilising the systems natural heat and airflow system you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds.

Now perhaps, like the three people who have been willing to speak to me about this, you find yourself with no further thoughts on the matter. Fear not, I will share with you my thoughts and eventual concerns. My sincere hope regarding this development is that there will be imitators.

I give you the first potential imitator – The McDonald’s gaming console, with built in “McFlurry Dispenser”. Think it through, less messy than chicken wings, more reliable than the in-store machines. Plus you can drink/eat something with a straw with greater ease while you play.

Next up, a departure from the world of food (we’ll be back) Supercuts decides to hop on this trend and makes a gaming console with “Vacuum Clippers” (we all know it’s a Flowbee). Cut your hair while you game (and don’t worry about the clippings!).

Staying in the world of hygiene and self-care we then see Nail Garden create their own gaming console complete with “Pedicure Center” which allows gamers to tend to their follicles while exploring new worlds.

Back to the food world Red Lobster decides to take things in another direction and makes their console contain an “Aquarium Center”. Customers can use the small aquarium for either entertainment purposes or to store fish they intend to later cook for their supper.

Moving away from chains I’d like to see Momofuku come out with their own console, featuring a “Pork Bun Chamber”. Similar to KFC, I know, but perhaps David Choe could be tapped to design the module.

For something completely different, perhaps Napa Auto Parts could have a “Cleaning Chamber”. Small, grease-covered objects could be placed inside and cleaned while you play. No town is without an auto parts store so this seems like one of my safer bets.

It would make me terribly happy to see DJI Global get into the mix, perhaps creating a “Drone Chamber” containing two miniature drones. Gamers could use their controllers to fly the drones around their homes while waiting for load screens or delinquent partners to come online.

Party City seems like a no brainer for this. A plethora of chamber options would be available including: mini helium tank, confetti dispenser, or your choice of “dining for one” – paper plate and cutlery set (Harry Potter or My Little Pony) themed.

Taking this into a “pay to play” direction, BMG music would offer a “Tunes Chamber” requiring you to insert twelve cents in order to listen to twelve albums of your choice. You could then pay full price for further albums or cancel your membership and start over.

Time for the low-hanging fruit, Aviation Gin – they create a “Gin Console”, a mini bar filled with tiny bottles and a holder for one, perfect lime (knife not included).

Low hanging fruit number two (no offense intended to Mister Reynolds – I feel like I’m doing your work right now) Mint Mobile makes a gaming console that contains a “Phone Chamber”. Inside is a fox-shaped phone with a six month, prepaid unlimited plan and daily voice messages from the owner.

Seizing the opportunity Nespresso joins the fray, releasing their own gaming gaming console. Surprising no one they include a mini espresso machine with two George Clooney cups!

Jasper Hill Farms could surely enter this competitive world. Considering that they offer a monthly cheese club (and a cheese and chocolate club) as well as charcuterie – the work is all but done. A special chamber to hold your cheese (chocolate) and meat – what more could you want? What better way to game then with some excellent cheese?

One more for my Vermont people – Hill Farmstead Farm offers a “home brew chamber”. Think about it, you spend all this time by your gaming console and home brewing takes what, a month to make a batch of beer? Combine your efforts, delve deeply into fermentation and make some tasty beer (obviously this one is adults only).

I am stopping now – not because I don’t have more ideas but because I think it is better for me if I do. The possibilities are endless! Why KFC is doing this I have no idea. It makes me incredibly happy that they are. There is no practical reason for a fast food chain to make a gaming console – but here we are. Forget the flying car, we should all be focussing on having gaming consoles with chambers!

A Man and His Mug

So I started shooting this short in March. I quickly lost interest and gave up. Then, sometime in October I realized that other than random drone footage I really had not shot much this year (I only just realized that my last post on this site was February 14th 2021). So I tinkered and rethought what I wanted to do.

Let me link this video before I say more –

It isn’t Citizen Kane but it also isn’t terrible. I’m happy about that. 2021 was supposed to be a year where I did some formal interviews and took the test so I could use my drone footage to make money. Neither happened. A lot of homeschooling happened as well as a lot of waiting for a vaccine (June for me) and all of the other nonsense we’ve all been dealing with.

What made me happy about taking a break from this video is it went from being a lot of footage of brewing coffee (I shot about an hour’s worth) to being something kind of fun and playful. It’s absolutely the kind of thing I wanted and needed to see and do this past year.

Hopefully someone watches this. If you do and want to tell me what you think I’d like that.

A Guide to Productive Adulthood

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 1.13.10 PM

Eleven years ago I bought a brand new camera for more money than I had and set out to make some movies. Inspired by companies like InDigEnt and films like Pieces of April and November I was certain I was on my way.

Sadly I was wrong. Poor me.

Anyway, after setting up a project and arriving at my parents house to make a movie with friends – I found myself with no friends and no movie to make. So I shuffled about the house for a few days with a bunch of camera equipment. I started filming things. Then myself. Then myself doing things.

I had quite a bit of fun and laughed (alone, which is either a healthy thing or unhealthy, I am not certain). Eight moves and a lot of boxes later I found myself going through the old DV tapes not long ago wondering what was on them. Lo and behold I found this footage (and quite a bit of other footage that I am sure will surface some day – why not share?).

Below is the fruit of my labors when I was licking my wounds and trying to figure out why I spent so much money on camera gear. If only that wasn’t a pattern!

I hope you enjoy it. The quality isn’t what I’d like because the camera is now outdated and I knew even less than I do now.

See it Again – Bottle Shock


In honor of Alan Rickman’s passing I am doing this “extra” See it Again. I have been meaning to write about Bottle Shock for some time and sadly it took his death to properly motivate me.

What You Should Know

This is a small film with an amazing cast telling a (mostly) true story. It is about wine, snobbery and growing up. I think Technically Chris Pine is the lead of the film but watching the film I think you would be hard pressed to agree with that statement. This is an ensemble film with a cast that plays their parts and does not try and outshine one another.

Why You Should Reconsider

My guess is you never heard of the film. Like so many smaller, comedy/somethings these get widely ignored. They don’t win awards or set the box office afire. What they do is provide interesting, satisfying stories with moments of levity.

Alan Rickman is perfection in this film (as always). Cast, I think, as an Englishman living in Paris who operates a wine store/school that is widely ignored. It is perfect casting as you get to experience all of the wonderful shades of Mr. Rickman – contempt, scorn, snobbery, weakness, compassion, loyalty and passion.

His friend, fellow business owner and advisor, played by Dennis Farina is yet another piece of perfect casting and their scenes together are terrific. Evenly matched, perfectly off-balance, like so much of this film, there is a never a sense of watching a formulated story.

I won’t go into detail about the rest of the cast but everyone delivers and they do so in unexpected and interesting ways. The casting is well done, as the familiar faces bring comfort to the viewer but to unfamiliar roles.


I imagine the idea of a wine comedy does not appeal to many. The film, though portraying a rather snobbish character, is anything but. It is a centered, earthy movie that lacks pretension and strives for naturalism rather than being “artistic”.

Some of the actors involved come with their own baggage, especially now with people like Mr. Pine. I think this, along with the film Stretch, is a great film to see if you wish to change your perception of him. The characters in this film are not paper-thin, yet this is a comedy, so while there is some misery and drama the touch is light and confident.

I am writing about this today, as I said, because of Mr. Rickman’s passing. There are several films he is well known for and sadly this is not one of them. It is a shame because in this role he is allowed to present several different sides of this character and he does so brilliantly. There is something very human, touching and real in this performance that helps elevate this film without shifting the focus to land squarely on him.

If, like I imagine many people are right now, you find yourself wanting to watch something with Mr. Rickman in order to remember him I would recommend giving Bottle Shock a try. It is a rich, rewarding film filled with unexpected moments and ultimately a warm, full heart.


See it Again – Tin Cup


What  You Should Know

This is a Kevin Costner sports movie. It is a a rather straight-forward, enjoyable film about golf, taking chances and spending time with your buddies.

Why You Should Reconsider

For some reason, be it The Postman, aspects of his personal life or the way his hair looked on Tuesday, Kevin Costner fell out of fashion. When you transpose your feelings about a film, because of an actor you liked in it, and let it bias other films they appear in, you make a mistake. You may have loved Bull Durham and hated Field of Dreams but none of that is relevant to For Love of the Game. Each film is its own animal, even if your leading man happens to be the same person (and they all deal with baseball).

With that being said Tin Cup is, for me, a film that plays to all of Kevin Costner’s strengths. He is at his best when he plays normal people, not the best or brightest, and when sports are involved. Usually films about golf are concerned with the metaphor of golf being life. A person could find that message within this film (much like you could in any sports film) but what is directly presented to you is not trying to intellectualize that point. This is not a serious film. It is not pretentious. This is a comedy, filled with mostly likable characters and centering on golf.

Where this films differs is that the drive of the main character, his “personal truth” concerning the sport he plays, is not about being the best. This is not a story about being the best or winning the championship so much as it is about realizing what it is you want.


For the reason I just stated I think many people are confused by Tin Cup. A sports movie that is not centered on winning is weird. Sure, you have the typical trope of “It’s not whether you win or lose,” and that certainly applies here. Where this film will trip up viewers is that our hero already learned that lesson and may or may not remember that he knows it. What I mean to say is so much of the charm of this film is that it does not adhere to any of the strict formulas for sports films.

Kevin Costner is not the cocky golfer who has to lose in order to learn how to win. Or the veteran golfer who is being challenged by the young upstart and searches out a former mentor to reconnect why he plays the sport in the first place. No, he is a golf pro working at a driving range that does very little business. He is happy with this (maybe) but then he meets a woman and something clicks for him. I do not wish to go point by point here but I would like to state this is not paint by numbers sports film.

See it Again – Ping Pong Playa

Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Meter

Critics – 66%

Audience – 49%

What  You Should Know

This is a sports movie. About ping pong. Needless to say it is a comedy.

Why You Should Reconsider

My guess is you didn’t hear about ping pong playa or that you did but only after seeing the movie/watching the trailer for Balls of Fury.  I can see how you might have thought, “and now they are doing ping pong movies…” and quickly lost interest. While Balls of Fury went the way of slapstick and over-the-top humor ping pong playa’s humor is more grounded in reality. It is a heartfelt, coming of age story about a young man who is a bit of an idiot.


Although there are certainly moments where the comedy gets quite broad the film does not actively pursue belly-laughs. The humor of the film is character-based and arises, usually, in an organic manner that does not break the fourth wall and call attention to itself. While I keep referring to the film as a comedy it certainly falls into the realm of comedy/drama or comedy/romance which was not conveyed by the film’s trailer.

See it Again – Saving Face

Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Meter

Critics – 87%

Audience – 87%

What  You Should Know

Saving Face is the best kind of independent film. It’s funny, touching and unexpected. It accomplishes these things without being ugly, off-putting or in-your-face about being a low-budget production (for a wonderful, current example of this I give you – Detachment). The film has an unusual story that unfolds in a wonderfully a-typical fashion. A third or more of the film is subtitled.

Why You Should Reconsider

I know, this film has very high ratings from both critics and audience members so why is it here? My guess is most people never heard of Saving Face. This is the type of low-key independent film that wins awards, gets great reviews and then fades quietly out of sight. This is an incredible waste.

The few people who expressed disappointment with this film felt that it was too “Hollywood” in it’s ending (it does not end in abject pain and misery for everyone involved – sorry independent movies but that is your go-to ending). Some felt that this was just a poor man’s version of early Ang Lee films, which is an incredibly odd statement since the only real similarity here is that the characters are Chinese.

You should reconsider seeing this movie again because of how this story is told. It has a very slow, controlled pace that is very sure and pulls the viewer smoothly along. The characters are well-defined and the performances are a treat to watch. As with any of the movies listed in See It Again I believe if you come to this film with an open and accepting mind you will not be disappointed.


I would imagine that many sites and video stores have this film categorized in either their independent section or their gay/lesbian section. While both are technically correct for this film, Saving Face is a much less aggressive, more palatable film (for people who typically watch mainstream movies) than many that fit into these two categories. That is to say that there is no agenda with this movie, it is not trying to make a bold, progressive statement about art or acceptance. This is a story about family, about community and about finding a way to be true to yourself even when these truths violate the norms of these groups.

Saving Face walks a wonderfully fine line between mainstream and independent cinema and while some might find this to be a fault, in either direction, I think most will find watching this movie to be a rewarding experience.

See it Again – Hudson Hawk

Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Meter

Critics – 22%

Audience – 54%

What  You Should Know

This movie is a comedy. Not in the way “Up in The Air” is a comedy where most of the film tries to be serious and realistic and sad. This is a wacky, screwball comedy that pokes fun at caper films while also being a caper film. This film belongs to the same category as “Arsenic and Old Lace”, “Bringing Up Baby” or “Austin Powers”. It’s not really a spoof film as much as comedic version of a caper or heist film. Hudson Hawk is light and fun and isn’t meant to be taken seriously or to be anything more than an entertainment.

Why You Should Reconsider

The film has an amazing cast, an unusual story and it is interesting. Much like any broad comedy most viewers are going to find some of the jokes and gags hit home while others do nothing for them. Is this a bad thing? Bruce Willis plays against his image in Hudson Hawk. He’s goofy and odd. Andie MacDowell secretly works for The Vatican. The movie is quirky and has bits that are meant to playful or silly rather than make sense.

Viewers should reconsider watching this film because it belongs to a category of films that often is mistreated. Earlier I mentioned “Up in The Air” and my intention was not to slight the film. “Up in The Air” is a film that fits into several categories, one of which is comedy. A film like “Hudson Hawk” belongs only to this category and audiences now have a difficult time accepting works that do this as being of the same quality as those belonging to multiple categories. These single category films are often quite wonderful and are more rewarding once you, the viewer, accept the fact that they aren’t trying to offer every emotion and experience a movie can. A film like Hudson Hawk is trying to make you laugh. It is trying to entertain you. You should reconsider this movie because quite possibly you were the only thing standing in your way when it came to enjoyment.


Most critics seem to think the film has little worth and was merely a vanity film for Mr. Willis. These are undoubtedly the same people who would never consider a comedy for a best picture award or who think sentimentality does not apply to topics like drug addiction, death and any severe trauma being inflicted on children in films (to see how I am defining sentimentality see this post). In short most seem to dismiss this film for the very reason why it exists: it’s fun.

I would imagine many went into this film expecting a movie grounded in reality, where the fight scenes and explosions and even the story attempted to walk some kind of line between the fantastic and ordinary. With that approach I would imagine most would be very disappointed. The movie is a departure for Mr. Willis and I would think most of his fans would find it a welcome one. As with most movies of this kind what is required of the audience is a bit of allowance for error, an understanding that a comedy of this sort isn’t about every joke being perfect or every performance being nuanced. I find this type of comedy to be reminiscent of films from childhood, where the overall experience is more important than any particular part.