Discuss a comedy film of your choice that isn’t on our syllabus. Your film may be from any period, and the director, writer, or actors may also have worked on one of our class films. Argue why you think your chosen film is a comedy, and whether it fits under any of the subgenres of film comedy that have been presented in the reading and in lecture, including gag comedy, narrative comedy, romantic comedy, screwball comedy, political satire, anarchic comedy, “Dionysian” comedy, gross-out comedy, and farce. (We’ll have at least mentioned all thee sub-genres by the end of class on May 5.) As we’ve seen, comic films often combine characteristics of two or more of these sub-genres. You should discuss the most visible sub-genre elements you find in your film, although you don’t have to discuss five or six elements. Support your argument by discussing examples from your film (at least one short example for each sub-genre) and by comparing your film to films we’ve discussed in class.
The films we’ve discussed in class are:
There’s Something About Mary
It Happened One Night
Some Like it Hot
The Gold Rush
—If you use secondary sources, include a bibliography of every source you looked at, not just the sources from which you may be quoting. If you cite from a source, include the author, title, and page number(s) in parenthesis right after the quote, and full publication data in the bibliography. Or you may use another documentation style with which you’re familiar. “Cite from our reader like this” (R10).
1. Could the first paragraph be dropped or is it necessary to the paper? (Avoid hype and wild generalizations.)
2. Is there a clearly stated thesis or question set up in the first paragraph? A paper should have one controlling focus, to which everything contributes. What expectations does the opening of the paper set up for the reader?
3. Does the rest of the paper fulfill those expectations set up at the beginning? (e.g. does it demonstrate the thesis, or answer the question?) Or does it seem to start in one direction and end up in another? (Hey! I thought this bus was going to Los Angeles, but we’re in Chula Vista!)
4. Are statements within the paper clear and supported with evidence from the text? Are there confusing phrases where you are not sure what the paper-writer meant? (This is much easier to catch in someone else’s writing than in your own. Get a friend to read your paper and tell you where you are unclear.)
5. What are the most important or interesting points? Are they presented persuasively? Could they be strengthened in some specific way? Can you think of counter-evidence or other objections to the point being made, evidence or objections which the paper needs to address as part of its strategy of persuasion? (Tip: avoid assertions that include “every,” “all,” “none,” “never,”or “always.” Your reader will immediately think up one exception, which is all that is needed to undermine your claim.)
6. If you include quotations or a bit of plot summary, do you use this material to make a point? Do you comment on it? Or is it just filling up space? (Avoid too much plot summary; you can assume we’ve read the play.) Just as arguments need supporting evidence, so evidence needs to be made part of an argument.
7. Does the paper wander off from its stated topic into irrelevant material?
8. Does each paragraph have a clear focus, or does it include material that does not belong there? Could that material go better in another place, or should it be cut?
9. Is there a logical order or reasonable flow to the series of points made in the paper? (Could you make an outline of this paper?) Or does it jump disconnectedly from one topic to another, piling up a random bunch of ideas, to the reader’s confusion?
10. Does the conclusion fit the paper? A conclusion should sum up but without repeating what you said at the beginning. Answer:”So what?” What have you shown, or what insight have you gained, or what does this help us understand? Again: avoid hype and wild generalizations, but do broaden out to address the significance or implications of what you have said.
11. Spelling, word usage, grammar, punctuation. Check the meanings of a word you are not sure about; wrong usage gives readers the wrong message. If you use another book or essay or website, make sure you cite your sources and use the correct forms. (Check any writing manual for footnote forms.) Proofread and correct careless errors.
12. Write as one normal person addressing another; avoid extra fancy or pedantic writing, as well as writing that is too slangy or “cute.” Also avoid a correct but awkward or dull style: e.g. repetition of a phrase or idea, or lots of sentences in a row with identical structure. It helps to read your paper aloud. If you can’t get through the sentence without a pause, there should probably be a comma where you took a breath. If something sounds clumsy or dull, make it sound better. Even silent readers are affected by what they “hear” mentally.