Laugh It Up! How Comedy Adds to Story

Recently it was Star Wars Day (happy belated “May the Fourth be with you”).  So what was I doing as I was supposed to be eating breakfast and getting ready for church?

I was online, searching for the Star Wars: Rebels trailer that had just been released.

I admit, as a fan of Star Wars: Clone Wars, I was sad to see the show go, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to its replacement, Star Wars: Rebels.  As I watched the trailer while busy scarfing down chicken and rice (I’m not much of a breakfast food person), I felt ecstatic.  To me, this show looks great.  I love the art, the style, the acting, and I’m sure I’m going to love the story.

But as I read the viewer comments that followed the trailer, I was astounded at a common theme of their complaints: Rebels looked too much like a “kiddy” show because it was more light-hearted and fun (and therefore, as viewers said, it would not be very good.)

And thus began yet another internet Star Wars debate (can’t we all just get along, ha ha?)

It got me thinking, though, about how comedy effects a story.  Does comedy (especially if it’s in a more “serious” setting, such as the Imperial period during Star Wars) add or take away from the plot?  Or are the viewers right when they say the “fun” takes away from the seriousness of the story?

The debate about Rebels reminded me of another cartoon show that was on a few years ago.  Remember Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender?  It was a big hit for the network and had three successful seasons followed by a live-action film and a sequel show called The Legend of Korra.

I remember watching the first episode of Avatar.  There was plenty of comedy, to be sure.  Aang, the hero, was silly and goofy.  Even villain characters like Iroh had their funny moments (the man seriously loved jasmine tea.)  At first watch, I thought that it was going to be “just some other kiddy show” with silly laughs and not much plot.

After three years of watching it, however, I was proven wrong.

Avatar, though it’s considered a kid’s show, had a lot of dramatic moments.  A world war was happening.  The hero lost nearly everyone he knew from his childhood.  The villain’s father was abusive and burned him to teach his son a lesson.  Characters were hurt and imprisoned.  Emotions flew as Aang struggled with losing Appa or Katara faced her mother’s killer.

That’s some pretty serious stuff, if you ask me.

But Avatar didn’t concentrate on only the drama.  It told a serious story without it weighing you down.  It used comedy and happy, hopeful moments to make the show watchable and enjoyable.  It didn’t sugar-coat the hard times of life, but capitalized on the fact that you could still laugh while being sad or still have hope when all was thought lost.

And let’s be real-what would Avatar be like without the cabbage merchant?

Though I’m all for drama and emotion in story, I find myself needing to laugh once in awhile.  If Avatar ignored comedy, I would’ve still watched the show as I love dramas.  But as a person who really “feels” emotions, I probably would’ve felt sad while watching it.  For me, sometimes too much drama, too much emotion, too much sadness/action/fright, can become a bit overwhelming.  I don’t want to spend my entire time with a story feeling depressed (though for some stories, that may be the intent to invoke that type of mood.)  Instead, I want to laugh on occasion.  Why?

Because sometimes we need a break from the hard facts of life.  Sometimes we go through so many struggles that we need something to help us cope with our problems for a little bit and find something to enjoy.  Sometimes we just need a good laugh because we haven’t had one in awhile and laughing helps us feel so much better.

And what better thing to do than to sit with a good story and laugh it up?


2 thoughts on “Laugh It Up! How Comedy Adds to Story

  1. Comedy can provide just as much commentary as “serious drama,” and personally, I need those laughs to stay interested. Gotta love that cabbage man.

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