Ghostbusters

Web of Laughs: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters If there’s a type of movie that blends together most of the things I’ve talked about in Web of Laughs thus far, it’s the horror-comedy. Maybe on a related note, if there’s a type of movie that combines most of my favorite things in film (or obsessions….whatever), it’s also the horror-comedy. As a self-proclaimed horror fanatic since the ripe age of six, when I accidentally changed the channel to Child’s Play and never turned it, there’s not a genre of movie I seek out more. I digress, though. I’m not here to ramble on about horror, instead I’m here to ramble on about comedies that crossover into the horror genre. It was difficult to choose a key film to focus on for horror-comedy, because while there are so many early prime examples such as Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Little Shop of Horrors, and Spider Baby, there’s really not a more perfect example of a horror-comedy hybrid than Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters, made in 1984, skillfully blurs the lines between horror and comedy so evenly that it really is impossible to classify it as one or the other. The story, as simple as three parapsychology professors who begin extinguishing ghosts, is one that on paper would seem to fall directly into the horror genre. The casting choices of primarily Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Harold Ramis as the three Ghostbusters clearly meant that the plot wasn’t as clear cut as it seemed. The film intertwines classic horror situations with rapid-fire jokes, whether they’re delivered through dialogue or through a physical gag. In the scene where Bill Murray’s character, Peter Venkman, first discovers Susan Sarandon’s character, Dana, is possessed by Zuul is one of the prime examples of this dynamic. You have a possession similar to something you would see out of The Exorcist interlaced with casual quips from Murray asking if they’re still going out that night.

Horror-comedy takes elements from different comedy styles, most visibly dark comedy and parody. I think you could say that not all dark comedies are horror-comedy, but all horror-comedies use dark comedy as a device. The same goes with using parody in horror-comedies. Since they are playing around with the format of a typical horror movie by including elements of comedy, the comedic portion can be seen as a commentary on the original classic horror movies that have come before it. Ghostbusters, and other horror comedies, key in to two key human principles that are mostly true. People like to be scared, and they like to laugh. When you can combine those two things into one movie, the audience is able to combine the two most visceral reactions into one movie and into one entertaining experience.

Again, while Ghostbusters wasn’t the first of the horror-comedy kind, it was definitely the biggest mainstream hit up to that point. Ghostbusters and Gremlins came out the same year, pushing horror-comedy into the spotlight where it has stayed for a good period of time. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a slew of horror-comedies with Beetlejuice, The ‘Burbs, Evil Dead II, and many more. Ghostbusters had slimed its way into audience’s hearts and proved that this type of film could be successful and not just an underground cult hit. Modern horror-comedy seems to be getting darker and darker. While Ghostbusters is fairly light-hearted and not really heavy on the scare tactics, newer films of the same type really play up the horror, as well. Films such as Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next, and Drag Me to Hell all played with the horror-comedy format, but ultimately fell more heavily into the horror category. It’s a balance that filmmakers seem to enjoy playing with, because it opens up a realm of absurdity for characters to play in, which makes it endless fun for the audience, whether you’re a horror fan or not.

Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.

What We're Loving: Mertz Jigs, Trash-Talking Puppets, Incidental Comedy, Book Shelf Documentation

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright needs your help, Julia Cotton sets the hoop on fire, Tim Brewer leaves his preconceptions behind, and Ryan Callahan corrects a false assumption.  i-love-lucy-logoMy entry this week is a bit of a selfish plea for help, but I'll get to that the end. Because they say the end is typically the best place to put a call to action. And by they, I mean high school English teachers.

Years ago, I was with a really good friend of mine in a hotel room. I don't recall the context or location and that's unimportant. What is important is that we were watching I Love Lucy.

I am a huge fan of I Love Lucy. I grew up watching it on Nick at Night and I'd watch it early in the morning before I went to school. I even enjoyed the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, when the whole gang moved out to Connecticut. Of course, I was a huge fan of Lucy herself. But I am and was a huge Fred Mertz fan. I loved Fred's sass. I loved his switch between childlike giddiness to old man grump. And let's not forget that William Frawley had the voice of an angel.

Let's jump back to the night in the hotel room. I cannot for the life of me remember the episode that was playing. But Fred had a hat. He tipped his hat and did a jig. It was one of the best jigs I've ever witnessed. That 15 or so second scene has replayed repeatedly in my mind since that night.

But I haven't been able to re-watch it because I do not know what episode it's on. I suppose the diligent thing for me to do is to watch every single episode in order. Maybe I will do that.

But for now, I'm putting out a call to action: if you are ever watching I Love Lucy and Fred Mertz is standing near a fireplace, tips a bowler hat, and does a very funny jig, please note the episode and immediately let me know. Thank you. - Ashley Bright

timthumbSo, the Spurs won the NBA Championship this year...and I don’t care. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more indifferent about an NBA season than this year. Perhaps this is just another sign of me getting old. I remember when I first fell in love with the NBA, though. It was around the time I fell in love with real boys (by “real” boys, I mean my older brother’s friends) who loved basketball. That time was the mid 90s. That was the best era of the NBA for me for many reasons: Hip hop became super influential (all the way down to the uniforms); My home town Rockets got to win a couple of championships while Jordan played baseball; NBA Jam allowed you to break the glass goals, set the nets on fire, and put Robert Horry and The Fresh Prince on the same team; Jordan made a triumphant return leading the Bulls to three-peat championships...and also Space Jam.

One of the best products of the NBA in the mid 90s, though...was Lil’ Penny.

Lil Penny was Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway’s loud mouthed, wise cracking puppet side-kick voiced by one of the greatest stand ups during the mid 90s, Chris Rock fresh off of the success of his Bring the Pain HBO special .

Watching the YouTube replays of these commercials made me remember when I cared about the NBA and would actually tune in every season. I’ve only been disappointed by it more and more each year. Turned out “real” boys were still just boys. My kids play video games that are way more complicated and less fun than NBA Jam. Basketball goals aren’t even made of glass anymore. Will Smith makes movies like After Earth. And, NBA players try to manufacture three-peats by negotiating trades to get themselves on teams with other high profile players. It’s cool, though. It has left room for me to be more and more excited by comedy each year. While the Spurs were blowing out the Miami Heat in the finals this year, Chris Rock announced his next comedy tour, Black Plague, will begin later this fall. - Julia Cotton

Screen-Shot-2014-05-01-at-12.36.22-PMI am obsessed with ridiculous, offensive rap. I am also a comedy geek. That being the case, I cannot stop listening to Riff Raff’s debut album, Neon Icon. Riff Raff can be very confusing for many people - Is he a rapper? Certainly. Is he a comedian? Perhaps incidentally so. Regardless, with Riff Raff, it’s best to leave your preconceived notions aside.

If this article is your introduction to Riff Raff, AKA Jody High Roller, AKA Rap Game James Franco, you are either one of those fancy “adult” types, or have a particular aversion to Youtube. I highly suggest cutting your teeth on my favorite song of his - “Bird On a Wire” featuring another "underground" favorite, Action Bronson.

Riff Raff grew to fame circa 2007 starring on shows such as MTV’s From G’s to Gents, and being associated with Andy Milonakis and Aziz Ansari. These days, however, Riff Raff is probably most famous for being the most enigmatic, polarizing figure in music. Everything about him has the ability to make people turn away in disgust or become entranced and fascinated. His hair is often in corn rows (he’s white), his facial hair is almost always cut in the tackiest pattern imaginable, his voice makes most cringe upon an initial listen and he has an affinity for enormous Flava-Flav style chains that feature everything from a jewel encrusted Slimer from Ghostbusters to Tony the Tiger. His track titles only compound the confusion, divisiveness, and hilarity (see: “Versace Python”, “Kokayne”). Even his real, legal name, Horst Christian Simco, is unbelievable.

Riff Raff is often dismissed by most people as a joke, and has been accused of parodying rap culture as a whole. But what I love about him, is that even if he is a parody, he’s so unapologetically so. From a comedic perspective, what makes him great is that even if you wanted to make fun of him, you’d have to outdo him in ridiculousness, which is simply not something that can be done. A lot of people say they “can’t tell if he’s serious or not”, but fans of Riff Raff know that it’s exactly his blurring of so many lines which makes him magnetic. It’s best to appreciate Riff Raff in a state of suspended disbelief and just bob your head and laugh. - Tim Brewer

20121118-095356Do you ever have something in your life, something that you make part of your daily routine, something that is so ingrained in your life that you assume it is familiar to everyone else and you don’t have to bother talking about it because doing so would be redundant, akin to talking about how the day is brighter than the night or how we’re always breathing oxygen? For me, Biblioklept.org is that kind of thing. I assume everyone knows about it. It only occurred to me today that you might not.

Biblioklept is an art and literature blog created and curated by Edwin Turner. The site features curated short stories, poems, pieces of art, daily pictures or paintings of people reading, videos (sometimes whole movies), as well as original, non-fiction pieces. The curated work, most of which is new to me, offers endless inspiration throughout the day. A visit to Biblioklept and a scroll down the page feels like a visit to a quirky museum that I have all to myself. The original pieces appeal to the book lover in me. The “Books Acquired” feature, in which Turner writes about his recent purchases, always features some cool new book that I’ve never heard of but now need. His “Riffs,” basically stream of consciousness reviews of books, usually written as he’s working his way through them, offer idiosyncratic and personal takes on well-known and obscure literature. My favorite recurring feature of all was Turners fifty-three part book shelf series, which featured photographs off all the book shelf sections in his home, each accompanied by a short essay.

If you’re a fan of books, or words, or ideas, or art, you’ll probably find something on Biblioklept to enjoy. If you’re like me (and I pretty much assume you all are), you’ll find yourself visiting the site three or four times a day, dipping in whenever you need a break from all the noise and junk on the internet. - Ryan Callahan