“Comedy is a mirror of everyday life (Evanthius)”; “Comedy blends pain with pleasure (Plato)”; “It imitates our reality (Aristotle)”. There are plenty of reasons to think that comedy is funny. The question, however, is not purely, whether comedy films make one laugh or not; the real issue is what lies beneath this deceptive title.
It aims to be humorous, yet it deals with pertinent storylines such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness, divorce, alcoholism, and murders, which represent the dark side of human life. So, how can it be funny? Well, people laugh because it gives them a good feeling by releasing stress and by enhancing their mood. Perhaps the most plausible way to do so is by watching a funny movie. Comedy film can be incredibly entertaining but on the contrary, it enables the audience to confront the hardness of life by introducing familiar situations that reflect the tough and rigid reality.
In addition, countless profound morals stand out conspicuously in these movies. In this paper, I will emphasize how nothing is more serious than comedy coupled with some of the conveyed lessons as presented in the motion pictures, “Educating Rita” by Lewis Gilbert, “Modern Times” by Charlie Chaplin, and “Small-time crooks” by Woody Allan and how these chefs-d’oeuvre reflect many aspects of my life.
I choose to start with “Educating Rita” since this movie has a very strong emotional impact on me. Rita, a working-class woman, a hairdresser by profession decides to change her life through education. She hates who she is to the point that she is willing to do whatever it takes to be a different person. Rita meets Dr. Frank who becomes her professor.
Frank tries to understand why Rita is so troubled to study if she has a steady job. In response, she explicates, “I’ve been realizin’ for ages that I was, y’ know, slightly out of step. I’m twenty-six. I should have had a baby by now; everyone expects it. I’m sure my husband thinks I’m sterile. He was moanin’ all the time, y’ know, ‘Come off the pill, let’s have a baby.’ I told him I’d come off it, just to shut him up. But I’m still on it. See, I don’t wanna baby yet. I wanna discover myself first. Do you understand that?”
I was almost thirty-six years old when I started college. I always wanted to get higher education, but something kept on holding me back. I just could not do it. I was afraid, I did not believe in myself and I never thought I would be able to even take the first step and apply for school. Nevertheless, deep inside I wanted to change my life; I hated my work for deep within I felt like a prisoner.
Fortunately, I underwent psychotherapy for three years, which gave me an invaluable opportunity to see behind the mists and discover myself; consequently, I gathered the courage to go back to school.
As I watched the movie, I completely identified with Rita. One of Rita’s lines that touched me was, “If you wanna change, you’ve got to do it from the inside.” I believe this is true because if one only says something but does not believe and makes the appropriate moves, no change will ever take place. Words are not enough; action brings words to actualization.
I identify with two powerful scenes in the film when Rita passes by a group of students on campus and she looks at them with jealousy, because she wants to be a part of them and when Frank invites Rita to his house for a party. She is very excited to go, but when she arrives, all she sees around are sophisticated and high-class people, an element she does not identify with and so she writes a note to Frank and leaves.
In many situations in my life, I have felt as if I was not measuring up and I have had hard times accepting that I am smart and worthy to be around smart and educated people. I love what Frank tells her the next day after the party. I felt as if he were talking to me; “I just wanted you to be yourself,” to which she answered, “but I don’t want to be myself.” I did not want to be myself for years; however, with the help of therapy as well as education, I became someone and I gained confidence in myself.
Although it is supposed to be a funny movie, I could not find any humor in it; I found more meaning; a mirror that reflected my past, and therein, I found joy; the joy of knowing I am a changed person.
Although there are many messages in this movie, I think that the most significant lessons come from Rita to her husband; “possessing to what you like does not necessarily lead to success.” Humans tend to stay in their comfort zone because it is familiar and comfortable whether good or bad. In addition, successful people are the ones that choose to stretch their abilities, get out of that zone, experience, and learn new things.
Similarly, in the film “Small-time crooks”, Ray and Frenchy is a low-class penniless couple. Ray has a plan to rob a bank by digging a tunnel under a store. This store, which is supposed to be the cover for the real plan, becomes a huge success selling Frenchy’s cookies. As they expand and become a huge franchise, Frenchy feels the urge to grow and to be educated. She feels that she knows little compared to her surroundings, and surely, she does.
Rayon the other hand feels comfortable and chooses to stay in his comfort zone. Frenchy offers him the opportunity to grow with her but he refuses. He cannot find himself in that status. She wants him next to her. She once cautions, “If I’m going to grow and you are going to stay stupid, we are going to have a problem.” Again, I felt very connected to her feeling of striving for more, creating a change, and growing for this reminds me of many people in my life who choose to stay where they are because it is easier.
Although “Modern Times” does not deal with education, this movie underscores very serious and sad issues that people have to face in life, for it deals with people in society. It shows the technological change and evolution after the industrial revolution. Charlie Chaplin is a worker in a factory and after working at a high speed for many hours; he becomes programmed and eventually experiences a nervous breakdown. Unemployment and homelessness are very serious issues that he has to deal with.
Nevertheless, what amazes me most in this movie is the fact that no matter what happens, he is always optimistic and encouraging. He loves his girl and supports her. My favorite part is the last scene where they both have nothing, but they have each other and he tells her “smile”. As long as they have each other, they are happy.
In light of these expositions, I think that comedy is very serious. It deals with the most serious issues in human life. Although I did not find the movies funny at all, I enjoyed them. It made me shed tears. I felt very emotional because they reflected my life experiences, which many times were painful, but after making a decisive change, today I am a different person as I wished. I am strong, confident and I love myself.