Humor in Docs 4

So I did it again: while writing an application for a grant from The Danish Arts Foundation (Statens Kunstfond) where I had to explain what I intend to use the grant for, I failed to be honest to myself. The grants from the foundation are not for specific projects, but they can support your artistic work and ideas in general. I have applied for a grant – and failed - for the last ten years, so that's rather embarrassing. But I don't mind being just that.

This year, I decided to emphasize my efforts on making films where humor and the film's representation of reality are interwoven according to my ideas of DOComedy. But after submitting, I realized that I had send a boring and maybe even self-righteous application. As I wrote in a previous blog, one tends to approach authorities with a frown all over one’s face in order to appear as a serious contender.

Why is that? Well, when you bring up comedy people have a tendency to either think of something stupid - like one of Three Stooges getting his fingers repeatedly stuck in a door, or something lame - like the run-of-the-mill stand-up comedian talking about getting his balls stuck in his zipper. Only rarely do people immediately think of clever and witty representations of humor dealing with essential issues even though there is plenty to think of: Jacques Tati, Marx Brothers, Stephen Fry, Hasse&Tage, Monty Python, Dario Fo, Dave Allen, Buster Keaton, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Manhattan” or “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller. The last one I read between and during calls at my old student job as a phone attendant at a newspaper. To the dismay of my co-workers and boss and to the callers’ mild wondering, I couldn’t stop reading and laughing out loudly. And yes, you do remember it wrong, if you don’t think “Catch 22” is (also) a hilariously funny book.

Okay, I’m not saying that I’m half as amusing as any of these pillars, but what I AM saying is that I have learned as much (if not more) about life or certain facts of mankind from those mentioned above than from any well-meaning and serious (if not frowning) approach in any book, film or documentary. Yes, there ARE funny and clever documentaries – but they are often regarded of having a smell of being too “American” or “entertaining” or something.

I strongly believe that I can make a thought-provoking AND funny film about surveillance and inter-human distrust (a sequel to this film) or the national health system (here's a moodboard), which accidently are two of the DOComedies I am working on. As a matter of fact, as I wrote in the same old blog as mentioned above, there seem to be some proof that the remedy of humor can enhance critical out-of-the-box-thinking.

Back to my application. I should of course have made a funny essay instead of having my application meet the demands mentioned on the website of the foundation. I guess I was afraid of my own prejudice of people’s prejudice towards humor, so I ended up writing that I want to be funny and thought-provoking and may have been momentarily in the past; not that I am just that…

But on the other hand: I kind of like the idea that I’ll BE funny - IF they give me some money.

And now if you’ll excuse me: I got my one remaining ball stuck in my zipper, darn it. And no!, don’t smack the door, my hand is still on the doorframe…

APPENDIX, May 2nd 2014: Sure enough I didn't get the grant, so now I'm (in alphabetical order) angry, bitter, disillusioned, jealous, mad and sad. But that goes with the territory. Now I will either go vacuum the flat or open a shiraz from Coppola's Diamond Collection. What will it be?

Previous posts:
Humor and Docs 1
Humor and Docs 2
Humor and Docs 3


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