Since October 1975, Saturday Night Live has revolutionized the world of variety shows, comedy sketches and political satire. From the slapstick humor of “Weekend Update: Rosanne Roseannadanna on Smoking” with Gilda Radner, to Bill Hader’s Stefon character, to Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen’s “Garth and Kat: Christmas” skit, SNL’s absurd, simple and surface level humor resonated in the hearts of Americans for decades. Accompanying the more farce, gross-out comedy skits, Kate McKinnon, Tina Fey, Darrell Hammond, and Will Ferrel have all portrayed Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and George W. Bush, respectively, to play into SNL’s more black comedy, political satire skits. They provide the American people, prospective voters and potentially hopeless citizens with something to laugh about at the height of some of the most important political moments in our nation’s history.
Dr. Strangelove had this exact same effect on me. We discussed in class the timelessness of comedy and why it stays “evergreen.” I feel as though comedy is such a successful genre because it allows viewers to indulge in an escape from the seriousness of everyday life and allows them to see heavier issues in a funnier light. I mention SNL because the character development, strategic naming of characters, sexual innuendos and references to real life situations in Dr. Strangelove have an uncanny resemblance to a variety of SNL skits. Both platforms utilized comedy to allow them to thrive for years after their releases.
In Dr. Strangelove, an assortment of different scenes contributed to the comedic affect. Filmmakers use a close, low angle shot up shot of General Ripper smoking a cigar and talking to Mandrake as he explains why he executed “Plan R.” The shot depicts Ripper as important, powerful and a force to be reckoned with as he lectures mandrake on his motives, building up tension and adding suspense to pull in the audience so they can find out why he made this call. The entire scene leads up to him being influenced by the potential jeopardization of our “precious bodily fluids.” What?! It’s just totally outrageous, uncomfortable and mind-boggling that this character literally called for nuclear war over “bodily fluids” and adds a sense of humor to the absurdity and chaos. In addition, the film ironically ends with the “We’ll Meet Again” song playing over the nice montage of nuclear explosions. No, we won’t meet again. But at least we can joke about it. In my opinion, these comical tactics work much better when trying to deliver a story about the end of the world than more serious movies such as Melancholia and 28 Days Later. The lack of comedy makes the films to heavy and drags my mood down as a viewer. Should we continue to joke about such serious topics? Do movies such as Melancholia have a greater impact when depicting the end of the world? In general, do you think people react better towards comedy than they do drama or horror films depicting the end of the world?