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"Black humor" and "black comedies" ?


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#1 of 19 Jared_B

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Posted March 24 2003 - 03:40 AM

I saw both of these phrases posted in a recent thread. I've never heard them used before.

I've heard "dark humor" and "sick humor", but never "black humor". Is this phrase actually in common use today?

(Edit: I just want to know if you've heard this phrase before, and if you knew immediately what it was referring to.)

#2 of 19 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 24 2003 - 03:56 AM

Yep, I'd widen the definition to "twisted sense of humor". To me, a film like Heathers is a black comedy.
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#3 of 19 Malcolm R

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Posted March 24 2003 - 04:04 AM

Yep, I've heard and understood "black humor."

The one that's always stumped me is "dry humor." Or a person described as having "a dry sense of humor."

What makes humor dry vs. wet? Posted Image
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#4 of 19 Brian Perry

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Posted March 24 2003 - 04:58 AM

Yes, same as dark humor.

#5 of 19 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 24 2003 - 05:04 AM

Dry humor is more cerebral (Steven Wright's type of humor), not gut-busting humor.
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#6 of 19 Scott Van Dyke

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Posted March 24 2003 - 06:24 AM

I would've listed movies such as Friday, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, or the like to be "Black Comedies".

#7 of 19 Rex Bachmann

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Posted March 24 2003 - 07:40 AM

Malcolm R wrote (post #3):

Quote:
The one that's always stumped me is "dry humor." Or a person described as having "a dry sense of humor."

What makes humor dry vs. wet?


One also hears the term sly humor and, although the meaning may seem obvious and transparent, I wonder whether both phrases "sly humor" and "dry humor" aren't really re-makes of an original phrase, which would be wry humor.

Patrick Sun wrote (post #2):

Quote:
Yep, I'd widen the definition to "twisted sense of humor".



And there's my point. Not many modern English speakers know what wry means any more, and I think some have substituted a rhyming modifier that makes sense (sly) in conjunction with what's being described, or a modifier (dry) that, though it seems to make no sense on first "reading" (i.e., native speaker interpretation), at least rhymes with and has some sense as a word on its own.

wry, which is barely used in modern English, of course, means 'twisted'.
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#8 of 19 Lew Crippen

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Posted March 24 2003 - 08:57 AM

Yes and yes
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#9 of 19 MarkHastings

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Posted March 24 2003 - 09:01 AM

I also assumed that "Black Comedies" reffered to movies like "Blankman", "Booty Call", etc. (basically any Wayans film).

#10 of 19 Ted Lee

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Posted March 24 2003 - 09:10 AM

black comedies usually refer to movies that deal with a taboo subject (death, murder, etc.) in a "light-hearted" manner.

heathers, war of the roses, very bad things, shallow grave are all pretty good examples.

Quote:
I would've listed movies such as Friday, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, or the like to be "Black Comedies".
i never saw friday, but the truth about cats and dogs (with thurman and garafalo) is definitely NOT a black comedy....it's a romantic comedy.

[edit] the search function is currently down, but do a search on "black comedy" when you can. there's some good threads with good recommendations.
 

#11 of 19 Ron Etaylor

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Posted March 24 2003 - 09:43 AM

Yep, I new right away what you were talking about. Occasionally when I make that reference a friend thinks I am making some racial epithet. My friend is so smart in other ways.

#12 of 19 Josh Lowe

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Posted March 24 2003 - 02:08 PM

Quote:
I would've listed movies such as Friday, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, or the like to be "Black Comedies".

Dr. Strangelove is a black comedy. War of the Roses is a black comedy.

#13 of 19 Philip_G

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Posted March 24 2003 - 05:00 PM

clay pigeons, very bad things, dark comedies Posted Image

#14 of 19 Grant B

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Posted March 24 2003 - 09:06 PM

Pootie Tang rocks!
Never even heard of it but rented it anyways and laughed my ass off.
Maybe we can try bussing to integrate comedies..... nah it'll never work
(Note: The above is a stab at dark humor explaining black comedies)
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#15 of 19 Christ Reynolds

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Posted March 25 2003 - 03:34 AM

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#16 of 19 Kevin M

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Posted March 25 2003 - 05:52 AM

Wow Josh Lowe, you took the words right out of my mouth.
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#17 of 19 MikeWh

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Posted March 25 2003 - 06:27 AM

What an ironic thread-- I was just talking to a friend of mine (who is black) about the fact that the phrase "black comedy" has already been taken (meaning a comedy based on a morose or otherwise serious subject), and that I don't know of a term for "comedies that are targeted to black audiences." I've used the term "dark comedy" for years (dark comedies and British comedies being two of my favorite film genres), but "black comedy" is the same thing.

IMHO, "dry" and "wry" are not synonymous, although related: "Dry" refers to the absence of warmth and feeling, often conveyed (ironically) by a lack of "normal" (i.e., slapsticky) humor in its conveyance and hidden within an abundance of sullen, serious, and oftentimes terse expression. Much like this treatise on the etymology of comedy terms. [normally, a smily is inserted here... to which I will elaborate shortly].

In fact, I would submit that "dry comedy" and "dark comedy" are both forms of "wry humor," in that they are both twisted, however in different ways. Furthermore, "dark comedy" frequently relies on a "dry" presentation, because the subject matter is normally serious. One of the distinct problems with conveying dry humor, is that it is invariably a visual form, like the aforementioned Steven Wright, in which the audience must get a sense that this stuff reaaallly is funny, and not just weird. Occasionally, visual cues don't even help the audience, as was the case with Andy Kaufman (RIP). It doesn't get much drier than Kaufman. Unfortunately, in written form, "dry" humor is very often confused with "droll" and "boring"... so much so, that people using the form must resort to the use of smilies and other emoticons in order to elicit the necessary sense that the writer doesn't actually have a bug up his a$$ and is, in fact, just a very dry person. Posted Image See. That's what I'm talking about. Posted Image

Now, for my list of notable DARK or BLACK COMEDIES:

Dr. Strangelove, Very Bad Things, and Heathers (as mentioned previously)
M*A*S*H
Fargo, Raising Arizona (pretty much all Coen Bro. movies)
Brazil
Harold and Maude
American Beauty (yes, mostly a drama... but many overtones of dark comedy)
Pulp Fiction (again, alot of drama over the dark comedy)
To Die For (also, another Kidman flick: Birthday Girl)
American Psycho (so dark, you'll feel sick if you actually think it's supposed to be a comedy) Posted Image


And now a list of some notable COMEDIES THAT ARE EASILY CONFUSED WITH THE TERM "BLACK COMEDIES", BUT FOR LACK OF ANY OTHER PHRASE ARE HENCEFORTH REFERRED TO AS "TARGETED MOSTLY TO BLACK AUDIENCES"Posted Image

Booty Call (one of the funniest movies I've seen in recent history)
House Party (also very funny)
Barbershop (unusually serious overtones in it, but otherwise funny and with great performances!)
Bebe's Kids (was just... OK)

OK. I'm done. Posted Image

#18 of 19 MarkHastings

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Posted March 25 2003 - 06:50 AM

Office Space is considered a Black Comedy by Amazon:
Black Comedy DVD's

#19 of 19 MikeWh

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Posted March 25 2003 - 07:17 AM

Quote:
Office Space is considered a Black Comedy by Amazon:


Yes... it's black, too.... but like Judge's Beavis & Butthead, it's more farce, satire, and even screwball.


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