The problem of film comedy in the twenty-first century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Radical comedy liberates spectators from their compulsive attachments to volatile objects. In that spirit, modernist film theorists placed their hopes in the raucous, world-shattering laughter elicited by violent slapstick comedies to explode the crises of the present and their foothold in habituated perception. But what remains of laughter’s revolutionary modernist project in the twenty-first century? In this article, I rethink the concept of cine-genre to pursue tropes of uncanny, uncontrollable laughter that have proliferated across all genres of contemporary cinema. Conventional genre provides an aesthetic contract of solid expectations (brokered between audiences, media-makers, and producers) to sustain the hope for what’s possible through the repetition of what’s imaginable. But in times of escalating crisis, genre itself falls apart, spawning perverse hybrid mutations. Cinema, I argue, in its renewed capacity for dialectical ‘hybridity’ can give rise to radical forms of embodied perception and affective experience that slam the brakes on the nightmare of postmodern carnival and reveal new ways forward toward a less dystopian future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-118
Number of pages18
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • affect
  • cinema
  • genre
  • laughter
  • modernism
  • politics
  • Slapstick


Dive into the research topics of 'The problem of film comedy in the twenty-first century'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this