A Pathetic Observation, Comedy: Animal Slapstick



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  • A Pathetic Observation, Comedy: Animal Slapstick

    In an earlier thread, a poster asked about trends in comedy, and how a comedy can be classified as narrow or broad.

    One humor category that is making its way into almost every comedy in the past few years is Animal Slapstick. It's something you should consider including in your scripts, as it's clearly an accepted and almost expected part of the current mainstream comedy format.

    The first instance of Animal Slapstick that I really remember being side splittingly funny was in A Fish Called Wanda, wherein a subplot included Ken (Michael Palin) attempting to assassinate the only witness to a crime, but at each attempt having the hapless animal lover instead kill one of the witnesses beloved pets.

    In recent times, Animal Slapstick made its mainstream debut with Something About Mary, whose poster even included a little dog in a full-body cast.

    That's the trick to animal slapstick... Hurt an animal, in an absurd way, but make sure it's not permanently harmed (obvious exceptions include the parrot whose "head fell off" in Dumb and Dumber).

    50 First Dates had walruses vomiting, and a penguin getting run over by a car. Along came Polly had a blind ferret. Anchorman has funnyman Jack Black punt a puppy off a bridge. (This is somewhat reminiscent of Steve Martin's The Lonely Guy, wherein his dog fetches a stick off the side of a boat...)

    I won't say it's necessary, or even apropos for your script. But one of the great tricks of comedy is getting as many laughs for the buck as you can get, and if you can find a way to use this method, then that's one more stone for the sling.

  • #2
    I would hope the three dogs in Wanda were "permanently harmed"... They buried them!

    Does the horse in the deans office in Animal House count?


    • #3
      Instead of the ASPCA logo at the end, just once I would like to see the credit-

      "And yes, we really killed the dog."


      • #4

        That would rock.

        Or, in the credits

        CHESTER: Bobo the Wonderdog (RIP)


        • #5
          This is very true.

          Meet The Parents would not have been nearly as funny without the cat.


          • #6
            There was a recent movie with a "Only two animals were harmed during the making" credit, but I can't remember what it was!


            • #7

              Hey, thanks, Pathetic. Your thread just sparked some creativity for my superhero comedy. Now, I'm seriously thinking about giving my bad guy a Bull Dog.

              Once I read your post, two visual gags popped right up.


              • #8
                Re: re

                speaking of bulldogs. it was used as both comic relief and a means of exposition in "little nicky".

                not sure there was any slapstick involved, though i think it did get stoned.


                • #9

                  Never saw "Little Nicky," but I'm going to take a look at it now because of the Bull Dog. Might have to change the pet. I don't want to be similar, though that movie bombed so maybe not too many moviegoers will notice.

                  PS: William, that avatar must go. It's too distracting. I found myself staring at it a little too long -- and that is so wrong.


                  • #10
                    Re: re

                    The resolution on this screen isn't good; is that Renee Zellweger?