Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Staplerfahrer Klaus - Der erste Arbeitstag (Stefan Prehn & Jörg Wagner, 2000)/Will You Be Here Tomorrow? (Educational Resources, Inc., 1998)

Comedy or Conscience?

Dummy-deaths in comedies are a shoe-in for big laughs. It's a fact. Confirmed.
Think of the basic equations:

a) person + injury = a giggle

b) person + injury x dummy-for-human substitution + insinuation of death = shocked hilarity

Tried and true.

Comedies that utilize this math always tend to be funny, but their success also tends to pervert the impact of the application of the same formulas in dramatic films. Herein lies today's lesson.

Let us illustrate with these two examples: the first being a send-up of a series of "safety in the workplace" educationals that aired in the 1990's on German television. It is entitled "Staplerfahrer Klaus - Der erste Arbeitstag" or "Forklift Driver Klaus".

This is our example of dummy-death in comedy.

Very funny, ja? Das ist so.

Now, let's take a gander at the real deal. This was made (and is still commonly shown) for safety awareness purposes at industrial work sites. It is entitled "Will You Be Here Tomorrow?"

This is not a comedy.

A remarkable phenomenon. "Will You Be Here Tomorrow?" may actually be as funny, if not funnier than "Forklift Driver Klaus". Is this because of an innate human instinct to defend one's nerves from trauma when confronted with atrocity by instantly mocking the action with laughter? Or is it a matter of dummy-for-human death substitutions simply being universally funny despite the context of its placement?

The answer resides within you...

post © Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr
Photo: Ray Massey/Stone/Getty Images

No comments: