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Food for thoughts

Posted on January 16, 2012  5 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

Doing some research for my shortfilm, I went through the first twenty of the 49 Wile E Coyote and Road Runner short films and it saddens me to say….. I didn’t break one laugh.

The worst is that those were all directed by animation legend Chuck Jones, a man that is wildly accepted as one of the funniest men in the animation industry.

Despite the great Carl Stalling soundtrack, gorgeous stylized Maurice Noble backgrounds, the crazy animation, brush work and comedic timing, nothing helped. I might have smiled few times to how Chuck Jones played with our expectation on the final gag but I didn’t find anything worthy of a laugh.

The Wile E. Coyote series came out at the end of the 1950s and was probably really funny at that time but I feel that the humor didn’t age well.

Would this be due to the fact that, he … invented it all? So many variations have been seen for the past 50 years that maybe we have now become desensitized to the original material?

If you want to do the same test you are in luck, Youtube user CoyoteAndRoadRunner uploaded pretty much all the shortfilms, by chronological order, to his channel .

While watching the shorts, one thing struck me…. For some reasons, Youtube kept suggesting the viewing of a series of candid/hidden camera gags and I eventually did.

Man, I didn’t expect what would follow.

After only watching one video, I was in stitches.

“Just for Laughs Gags” is an hilarious Canadian secret camera show using all the comedic elements of cartoony pantomime. The gags are beautifully set up, staged and acted by a cast of very likable characters. Even with the inevitable “background laughs” muted, it is impossible to resist laughing hysterically.

For comparison, here is a selection of Chuck Jones directed “Wile E. Coyote” short films followed by “Just for laughs gags”. See what you respond the most to. Maybe you will differ from me but if not, we need to rethink what constitutes comedy in animation.

Coyote and RoadRunner – Gee Whiz-z-z-z (05.05.1956)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_xJmvk9utA

Coyote and RoadRunner – Chariots of Fur (21.12.1994)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0nrLIcdOdE

Infinite Ice Cream

Honking At Hookers

Worker Stuck In Ceiling

Mall metal detector

Stretcher In Water Prank

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Comments

5 Responses to “Food for thoughts”

  1. Steve on January 16th, 2012 09:50

    Great observation. I’ve noticed the same thing about some old cartoons. Unfortunately A lot of the time there are just so many derivatives that it makes the original seem cliched. I still find a lot of humor in a lot of chuck’s cartoons though, and a lot of other old cartoons too. More so in the character stuff, and less in the gags alone.

  2. Christiaan on January 17th, 2012 07:50

    I don’t know that they’ve aged badly necessarily. I found them hilarious when I watched them as a kid, but if you’ve already seen them, or seen other things that reference them, the jokes fall flat simply because nothing in it is unexpected.

  3. Olivier Ladeuix on January 17th, 2012 11:03

    I had in mind to watch the entire Will E Coyote series but was too bored and had to stop after 20.

    The “Just for laugh gags” series, I could just watch the entire collection without a break.

    Throughout the years, I have come to think that visual gags don’t make me want to see something more than three or four times. Only appealing characters or characters I can relate to, drag me back.

    When I first saw Pixar “Presto”, I loved it. After seeing several times, I lost interest. On the other hand I could watch “for the Birds” or “Gerry’s game” hundreds of time.

    The “Just for laugh gags” series presents some really friendly characters and I can totally relate to them. Look at that guy, 1’10 on the “Mall detector” gag. Like him I would so check my pocket ;-)

  4. Seb on January 21st, 2012 05:03

    Laughter is inherently a social thing. When you’re watching something by yourself, you won’t laugh near as much as you would if you were with someone. Despite this, I do agree that Wiley Coyote isn’t that funny – at least not anymore. It was a cartoon created in a different age, for a different audience.

    However I do have to say, if you find that “Just for laughs” series funny, then there is definitely something wrong with you :)

  5. Olivier Ladeuix on January 21st, 2012 10:07

    hehe, it looks like you are very difficult to please Seb ;-)What about those classic Monty Python, Charlie Chaplin, Mister Bean? I would be interested to hear what makes you laugh, be it live action or cartoons.

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