A (mostly) verbal analysis

From Screenpedia
Jump to navigationJump to search

Each student will select a half-hour TV comedy and analyze its use of humor. Elements of the analysis include:

  1. Recaps of five sitcom episodes.
    • Choose any half-hour comedy.
    • Write short, one-paragraph summaries of episodes' plots.
      • Here is an example from IMDb, using the Bunheads episode we watched:
        • "Michelle finds a "new" local coffee shop with an award winning barista. After frequenting the shop a few times, she manages to upset the barista & their personalities clash. Fanny is on the search for a dancer to portray Clara in the Nutcracker since Sasha is gone, but is finding it difficult to replace her. The girls are exhausted from the extra rehearsals & decide to go see a basketball game to watch Sasha cheer. Boo realizes she has a crush on Charlie & wants to tell him but, it might be too late. With the opening of a new grocery store canceled, Michelle decides it's time to protest.—Carrie DeCosta"
    • Post to your Blackboard journal. One recap is due each Tuesday at 11:59 p.m., starting October 11th.
  2. Oral presentation and written analysis of your sitcom.
    1. Using the chapter, "A Critical/Cultural History of the Sitcom," from The Sitcom (on Blackboard), respond to these questions:
      1. What is the show's narrative problematic?
        • Discuss how it plays out in two specific episodes (using the recaps for reference).
        • Is your show a "serial" or a "series", or something in between?
      2. What is your program's "mode of production" and how does that have an impact on how the show tells stories and generates humor?
      3. Does your show have a laugh track? How does the laugh track (or the lack of one) affect you as you watch the program?
      4. How does your show relate to the zeitgeist of its time? Does it address social issues head-on (as with All in the Family) or is it more a case of those issues informing the show (as in The Mary Tyler Moore Show)?
      5. Is your show "televisual"?
    2. Discuss specific examples of theories of humor: superiority, relief/release, and incongruity.
      • Explain the theories of humor first and then provide at least two examples for each theory.
      • Use the analysis of Modern Family in The Sitcom as a model for analysis. (PDF on Blackboard under the title, "Butler, Jeremy. "Introduction: Comedy Genre, Humor Theory," The Sitcom".)
    • Present your findings to the class during the week before Thanksgiving (11/15 and 11/17). Five minutes minimum; ten minutes maximum.
      • Groups A & B on November 15th, Groups C & D on November 17th.
    • Collect your findings into a 1,500-word essay and submit it via Blackboard/TurnItIn. Due Friday, 11/18, 11:59 p.m.
    • Worth 45 points.