comedy and tragedy
Let me explain.
At the Oscars, the Best Picture nominees are almost always dramas. Usually they are tragic and romantic and perhaps even epic. The Best Actress segment is typically a handful of tearful, sobbing vignettes plucked from whatever dramatic, tragic, epic-romances are up for the award. Rarely, if ever, is there a Best anything from comedies. This is not because comedies are any worse than dramas. And it’s certainly not because comedic acting is any less of a challenge.
In fact, I’d say that comedy is much, much harder to pull off than drama. Comedy takes a much, much more refined skill set – and it requires above all that the actors work closely together. That’s the only way to get the timing right. Drama – not so much. I think people are naturally inclined to having their heartstrings pulled, but laughs can’t rely on all the dirty tricks that go into making a drama. (This is nothing against dirty tricks or dramas, but if you think about your favorite dramas you’ll see that they don’t rely nearly as much on good acting or teamwork between actors as they do on playing off our emotions, our resentments, our sense of injustice.)
Well, government is similar. It’s easy to pull on heartstrings, play on fear, and thereby contribute to the steady growth of the state. It’s far, far harder to limit government. And conservatives have been pretty shabby when it comes to formulating plans to actually do this – and to avoid deregulatory capture, powerful corporate interests grabbing control as government is scaled back, and the loss of important safety nets, we’ll need a plan. Opposition is not enough. Often as not we take a cudgel to a problem that requires a toothpick to fix. This is the equivalent of bad slapstick.
Yes, we’ve supplanted witty dialogue with bad shtick. When we get on stage, we can’t get any laughs from all these old jokes.
Tragically enough, that leads right back to the drama we are in now.