Sunday, June 08, 2008

Comedy that makes you cry

Right now the "Jurassic Bark" episode of Futurama is on Comedy Central. This is the episode where Fry finds out what happened to his dog after he disappeared in 2000. It's this amazingly beautiful story about loyalty and love and sacrifice. And grown testosterone-filled men are reduced to weepy little puddles of mush at the end. It's one of the best episodes of television ever.

But isn't Futurama an animated comedy, you say? Why yes, it is. And I promise you will cry if you watch that episode. No one is immune to its sappy charms. But before you cry, you will laugh.

Remember that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel broke up? I laughed my ass off at Joey eating leg wax in the bedroom, then cried a little as Ross broke down and begged Rachel to forgive him while she tried to stay immune to his pleas.

Or that Scrubs episode where Dr. Cox lost all his transplant patients because he neglected to test the donated organs for rabies.

There's a scene in Catch 22 (the novel - I've never seen the film) where these soldiers are all out in the ocean being goofy and playing in the water and calling each other names. The first time I read that scene I had a big old grin on my face and probably laughed out loud at something one of the guys said.

Then I turned the page and one of the guys was cut in half by a low flying plane. And my face went from a smile to an open mouth shocked state to a teary frown. In like 30 seconds.

That's the best kind of comedy, I think. The kind of comedy that is so consistently funny that the sad parts hit you harder. You're laughing, laughing, crying. And crying hard because you weren't expecting to be so serious.

I don't really write much comedy, but if i did I'd want to write like that. Make you laugh, then punch you in the gut with emotion.


  1. Don't forget that part in Serenity right after they've crash-landed and Wash says, "I am a leaf on the wind..." On your first viewing you can choke from trying to laugh and gasp at the same time.

    I've had a few repeat viewings with people who haven't seen it, and I always watch them during that bit.

  2. Another good one is luck of the fryrish, about Fry's 4 leaf clover. That one always gets me.


    I am a leaf on the wind.

  4. I read this as I ws watching the 1230am run of it. Crazy.

    And true, if you watch this one and feel nothing, you're a cylon. One of the big metal ones.

    In fact, I'll probably cut out on it before the end montage.

    I'm weak, I know. I'm only 40% dolomite

  5. That episode of Futurama is so tough to watch. That's what makes Futurama such a good show (when it was still on the air) -- it may not been as "oh my god I can't believe they said that funny" as Family Guy, but it had so much more heart. The characters are surprisingly real -- even the ones like Bender who are generally jackasses have a heart (the episode where Fry and Bender live together shows it).

    There's not a lot of three-dimensional cartoon characters, Futurama had some of the best.

  6. When you get a chance you should see the play August: Osage County. It is absolutely packed with this sort of comedy, and even more interesting, it tries (successfully) to walk a line where different people in the audience will react in different ways so while some people are shocked or sad, others are laughing. Really powerful stuff.

    Add yeah, the end of that episode is heart wrenching.


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