Watch this video as an example of what a gag analysis is:
Watch: Chaplin Monsieur Verdoux, 1947
(available on HBO Max, possibly Hulu, Amazon)
Watch: Monty Python – The Meaning of Life (on Hulu, Amazon)
Watch both films – then choose one for your analysis.
1. Does the plot/structure of this film differ from a narrative structure you are familiar with from more conventional, contemporary comedic films? What propels the story forward and gives unity to the plot (i.e. conflict, a specific character or a group of characters, a theme, a setting, something else?) How would you summarize the plot?
2. Choose one specific gag from the film and deconstruct it (based on Vaclav Havel’s Anatomy of a gag). See examples of such an analysis of a gag in the lecture notes.
Havel looked at Chaplin’s gags as a “juxtaposition” of two parts/routines, which often represent societal conventions. The juxtaposition of these two routines creates the effect of a “defamiliarization”. In Chaplin’s film, it’s usually a surprisingly humanizing effect. In Monty Python, it could be something else…
Try to apply Havel’s “anatomy” to your favorite gag from the film. The form of the analysis up to you.
You can even choose to comment over the chosen clip (the way it is done in the analysis of a gag from PlayTime) – if you have access to the relevant technology.