Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Laughing Matters

Starting this month and continuing into March 2008, the small independent theatre ”Cinema Zed" in Leuven pays tribute to the rich history of comic films by programming a fine selection of films, along with documentaries and even two academic lectures. A series of silent films (with comic acting stars such as Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton), including major classics The General and Modern Times, is followed by a wide range of humorous films directed by the likes of Jacques Tati (Jour de fête), Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot), Woody Allen (Annie Hall), Monty Python (Life of Brian), Pedro Almodovar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), and many more. If ever in the coming few months you're up for a laugh, you may want to look into the comic films programme (PDF file) to plan a night out. After all, as some of you already know, Leuven is only a train ride away (two train rides, strictly speaking).

The title given to the special programme on comic films, Laughing Matters, is of course a pun, playing on the ambiguity between a verbal and a nominal reading of the word 'matters' (in addition, the nominal reading reminds one of the idiomatic expression 'that is no laughing matter!'). Apart from being a pun, however, Laughing Matters is also the title of a documentary made by Rowan Atkinson (best known for his roles as Blackadder and Mr Bean) in 1992, in which he pretends to be a comedy professor lecturing on the kinds and techniques of visual humour, techniques which are illustrated with clips from films and comedy programmes but which are also demonstrated by "Kevin" (Atkinson again). Unsurprisingly perhaps in this YouTube age, the full programme can be viewed online, in five separate parts of about ten minutes each. Embedding was disabled for this video, but you can go directly to the relevant YouTube page to see this highly amusing documentary.

P.S. If ever you want to download videos from YouTube, you can read instructions on how to do so in an older blog contribution by a former student.

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