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FLM 119 — Comedies That Are Actually Funny: A History in Ten Films

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 5—Jun 7
Time: 6:30—9:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 18
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
Status: Open
6:30—9:00 pm
Apr 5—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 18
2 Units
Mick LaSalle
If you want to know what an era really believes, look at what it thinks is funny—and that goes for our era, too. Laughter is a response to hearing the truth said in a different and unexpected way. Comedy, much more than drama, is the great truth-telling genre, and the study of comedy is useful in two ways. It’s historically useful in revealing what people once believed to be true. And it’s satisfying as a communication between generations, spanning the gulf of time by showing us aspects of human life and emotion that never change.

Too often the comedies that are the most highly praised are barely comedies at all, in the sense that they hardly make anyone laugh. But in this course we won’t be looking at those movies. Instead, we will have a ten-week laugh-filled immersion into screen comedy through movies that are genuinely funny. We will look at comic actors from Charlie Chaplin through Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick, filling in many of the points in between. Through clips and feature films, works of the Marx Brothers, Bette Midler, Kristen Wiig, Peter Capaldi, and Tiffany Haddish will be examined and enjoyed. Students will come away with a better understanding of the past and a deeper awareness of the ideas and trends that are guiding modern life—through comedy.

Mick LaSalle, Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of three books: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of Modern Man, and The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, and other Hearst newspapers.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.