Today’s Guest: Saul Austerlitz, author, Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy
Image via WikipediaIf it’s a choice between watching drama or comedy, I always pick comedy.Why choose to get all weepy and sad when the other option is to fall off your chair laughing?
I think the die was cast for me back in 1978, when Steve Goldin and I saw Animal House the night it opened at a theater in Princeton, NJ. I had seen comedies before, of course, but none that had ever worn me out. We laughed so hard at the antics of the Delta House gang that we went back again the next night. And quite a few more times after that.
SAUL AUSTERLITZ podcast excerpt: “I wanted to broaden the definition of comedy to some extent. In terms of Renee Zellweger, I thought it was valuable to include some of the performers who had been quite funny in films more oriented to women. Because I think some of today’s movies are aggressively marketed for men. People like Renee Zellweger and Julia Roberts are comedic performers, though obviously in a different way than Will Ferrell, but they do have something to contribute.”
Saul Austerlitz would probably make the same choice, I’m guessing. He’s the author of a new movie history, Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy. It takes the genre from Charlie Chaplin—whose work I myself studied at the University of Florida many years ago — to Judd Apatow, whose work I now study from the comfortable of my family room, without the annoyance and interruption of pop quizzes and term papers.
Austerlitz established his pop culture research credentials with a previous book, Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes.