Comedy scene no laughing matter

Paul Benedict

Allow me to discuss briefly today’s comedy scene and inform you of what needs to happen for it to take a step in the right direction.

It has become so rare to see a truly funny American comedy nowadays that we might as well consider them a thing of the past. Seriously, don’t give me any of that “Van Wilder,” “Austin Powers” or “Rush Hour” crap; I’m talking about a movie that doesn’t depend on trashy toilet humor, isn’t a lame sequel rehashing the same material from the original and doesn’t direct its amusement towards the ethnic and social differences of its lead stars. I want to see something that’s going to make me actually think about what I’m laughing at — none of those pathetically disturbing overused sight gags or superfluous Jason Lee-Chris Kattan-Matthew Lillardish horrifyingly unfunny comic relief roles. I want comedy.

I want more Pixar films. Whether they’re childish or not, they’re the most consistently funny comedies out there. Take a look at the jaw-dropping list of films John Lasseter has brought to us: “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Monsters Inc.” — all uproarious. The imagination exercised in these computerized tales remains on a level all its own.

I want more Wes Anderson flicks. No director out there can craft unique personalities like the Max Fishers and Pagodas that he has so amusingly authenticated.

I want more Ben Stiller comedies. Let’s face it, this guy is hysterical, perhaps even the best comedic performer out there today. He has no shame and he is willing to make himself look embarrassingly low in front of the camera just for a few chuckles or a smile. Kudos Benjamin.

I want Jim Carrey to stick to his roots as the best physical comedian on this planet. This isn’t meant to demean his skills as a dramatic actor (he was outstanding in “The Truman Show”). This is just to suggest that he has a comedic gift that no one since Andy Kaufman has had and he should continually exhibit it. Make us forget “The Majestic,” Jim.

And finally, I want to laugh as hard as I did when I saw “Igby Goes Down.” To see such a side-splittingly funny coming-of-age satire kept me smiling for quite awhile. I won’t lie to you, the film has its share of flaws, but afterwards the jaw-ache you get from laughing so repeatedly will make you soon forget the minor blemishes. Besides, to see Jeff Goldblum actually put forth a noteworthy performance is a spectacle to behold. (The apocalypse is upon us, my friends!)

There are many emotions that one can take away from the joy of watching a good movie: enchantment, exhilaration, compassion and fascination, among others. However, is there honestly a better feeling than sheer merriment? Allow the experience of seeing these comedy classics punctuate my point.