A comedian at the Oscars
Is the saddest man of all.
Your movies may make millions,
But your name they'll never call.
Comedian Will Ferrell sang these lyrics at the 79th Annual Academy Awards. Ferrell is correct: film comedies bring in millions of dollars for Hollywood, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely acknowledges such achievements. Also ironic, the AMPAS hires comedians like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, and Steve Martin to host its televised gala, but the organization seemingly has little regard for the comics and their craft after the gig is up.
Unlike the Academy, this course will take film comedy seriously. American Film Comedy will introduce students to canonical films of the genre (i.e., critically acclaimed and historically influential works). It will also consider the genre’s formal features, characterization, and narrative structure(s). It will look at what American film comedies came to mean to certain audiences at certain times. And finally, the course will examine the ways American film comedy represents gender, class, race, and sexuality. Classes will consist of lectures, film screenings, and discussion.
Kelli Marshall, Fall 2016