“Laughter is the best medicine.” This phrase is more than just a common saying, as an increasing amount of evidence shows that a good sense of humour strengthens your immune system and reduces stress. When you find a movie that gets you laughing, it is often just what you needed to forget your problems.
One of the quickest ways to get a laugh is watching a great comedy film. When it comes to comedy, everyone’s different. Some prefer the over the top antics of comedians like Jim Carrey, while others appreciate the unbearable awkwardness of Michael Cera, or the witty sarcasm of Bill Murray. Regardless of who is your favourite, viewers know what to expect when their favourite stars appear on the screen, and are ready to not take them too seriously.
Unfortunately, it is not just the viewers that don’t take comedians seriously, but the acting and filmmaking community as well. The best example of this is the lack of Oscar nominations and awards given to those involved in a comedy.
Despite how laughter positively affects one’s health, the Academy rarely recognizes its importance. In fact, the last comedy to win Best Picture was arguably Woody Allen’s Annie Hall in 1977. Is that really the only comedy that can compare to the many dramas that have won over the last 35 years?
Similarly, few comedic actors have received even a nomination for an Oscar, let alone win one.
It seems the only way to do so is when a comedic actor attempts to enter the world of drama, hoping to finally gain recognition for their talents, something that is frequently met with its own negative stigma and complications.
Consider Bill Murray, someone who despite considerable success in films like Ghostbusters and Caddyshack, was only nominated for his performance in Lost in Translation. Or think about Robin Williams, who hilariously portrayed an irresponsible husband looking to win back respect by dressing as a British nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire. Why did he only receive attention for Good Will Hunting or Dead Poets Society? Even Jim Carrey, who achieved commercial success in Dumb and Dumber or Ace Ventura: Pet Detective seems to only get respect for his work in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Don’t get me wrong, well-crafted dramas are great, but aren’t movies that leave you with a smile on your face just as important? Are we truly living in a culture where the only respectable piece of art is something that leaves you emotional? Why is it that there are so many more dramatic actors than comedic ones?
The time for handing out an Oscar for a comedy is long overdue. It is time to recognize just how difficult it is to make a person laugh, and how truly talented some of these performers actually are.