Friday, February 26, 2010

WHY HITLER IS FUNNY

Okay, once more about the Germans, and then I'll move on.
My great and good friend and former colleague, CFRB Toronto morning man John Moore - who's one of the brightest and funniest people I know - has a fundamental rule for comedy: it doesn't necessarily have to be funny as long as it sounds funny. Contextual absurdity falls neatly into that comedic theory, and that's why Hitler is funny.
Let's be clear on a few things: World War Two was not funny. The Holocaust was not funny. The Nuremberg Trials were not funny (although the ill-fitting civilian clothes worn by several high-ranking Nazis reduced them to a grimly laughable parody of their former strutting selves.) But the sheer enormity of the events themselves makes them fodder for absurdist humour.
The chief proponent of the "Hitler is funny" theory isn't an insensitive goy or a misguided neo-Nazi, but a Jewish combat veteran of World War Two. Nazis figure prominently in several of Mel Brooks' films - most notably The Producers, which won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1968. (If you've only seen the remake with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, do yourself a favor and find a copy of the original with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. If you haven't seen either, start with the original.) Any movie built around the premise of a Broadway musical called "Springtime for Hitler" penned by a fictional German helmet-wearing playwright whose best friends are pigeons has to proceed on the assumption that there's humour to be found in the foibles of der Fuhrer and his Nazi minions. And Brooks finds it in spades.
The same comedic principle applies to the slew of spoofs involving the 2004 German language-film "Untergang," one of which is found on the blog entry below this one. Of course, it's all in the writing, and some of the Untergang spoofs are funnier than others. But the absurd notion of history's most notorious mass murderer in a psychotic rage because the US beat Team Canada at the Olympics or someone hacked into his Xbox Live account or he can't get an advance copy of Modern Warfare 2 is a solid basis for the kind of fundamental irony that underpins any successful attempt at intelligent humour.
The man himself wasn't funny, and his brutal legacy is certainly no laughing matter, but taken out of context and with the proper application of the comedic craft, it doesn't get any funnier than Hitler.
And if you still have trouble accepting that notion, just ask these cats.

20 comments:

  1. Lets not forget the hysterical episode of Fawlty Towers when John Cleese insults German customers by mimicking Hitler after being hit on the head.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ....well to answer the whole subjet...

    HOGAN`S HEROES !!!!

    Brian.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yvan "Moshe Tzyion"February 26, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Hi Ted,

    Hitler is absolutely not funny. As a Jew I have to say that it is absolutely outrageous to think that people believe that there is humour in Hitler whether it be absurd or otherwise. In the video I watched about Hitler hearing the news that Canada lost a hockey game I could not help myself but to think that his reasons for being so angry were most probably related to his hatred for Jews or not having achieved some insane goal of his. If you want to know if Hitler is really funny ask an elderly Jewish man or woman who has a numbered tatooed on their arm or maybe a person who lost their entire family in the holocaust or my father in law who is a survivor and who does not find any humour in Hitler. Next week is the assinine "Anti Israel Apartheid week" where we Jews will be once again scapegoated because of lies and half truths. Ask me then if Hitler is funny.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You completely missed the point, Yvan, but thanks for our note. I assume you also sent it to Mel Brooks...?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Geez, can you post anymore stupid blog entries? Can't believe the Gazoo hired you. Well then again with the quality of that rag I guess I can see why.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Funny, that doesn't prevent you from reading them. How are things in your Mom's basement? Get a new supply of hand lotion and Kleenex lately?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love Mel brooks films (blazing Saddles is a must) even Chaplin did one on Hitler too if I recall my list of classics...

    Art is a form of liberation for hate and pain into something so grotesque, that remove any credibility of any monster so somehow the wounded can find relief and say good God, it's finally over, we can breathe now and live again...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wasn't Mel Brooks Jewish anyway? And a WWII veteran on top of that?

    If he could laugh from war atrocities, why not us? (Inglorious Basterds anyone?)

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Rhetoric does not get you anywhere, because Hitler and Mussolini are just as good at rhetoric. But if you can bring these people down with comedy, they stand no chance."

    Mel Brooks (he's 84-85 years old!) :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm still waiting for Hitler on Ice...

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Memo to the basement masturbator: your 15 minutes are up. Bye.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. LOLLOLLOLLOL :) This is a good example of my motto in life: If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude!
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1159878&id=567588910

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mel Brooks's "Producers" shows that Hitler is funny guy. We all know that he made all kind of crime. I can not compare him with animals.We can not forget Holocost, etc. etc. And Mel Brooks
    maybe fascist himself, maybe just stupid man.
    My father was killed during WW2.I think Mel Brooks was out of his mind, when he created The Producers.
    Aron

    ReplyDelete