Every podcast with most veterans will include a soundbite that goes something along the lines of “I love playing the villain.”
The antagonist is the best thing about a movie, regardless of the protagonist chosen as the film’s blockbuster drawcard. From Gary Oldman in Dracula, to Darth Vader in Star Wars.
And in comedy, it’s no different. Here’s my Top Five Classic Comedy Villains you have to see.
Alan Rickman in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”
While Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman “chewed the furniture”, Alan Rickman gorged upon his lines with relish…and mustard.
It had tremendously help from Kevin Kostner’s wooden Robin Hood to make Rickman’s antics and larky comments that much richer.
Gary Oldman in “The Fifth Element”
In stand-up a joke can be told the same way throughout, yet the performance will constantly change the nuances of the punchlines. And one could’ve delivered a better “Jean-Baptist Emannuel Zorg” quite like theatre great Gary Oldman.
This multi-layered Brit lavishes his character with a Southern drawl and neurotic energy that can never be copied, imitated or perfected.
Thomas F Wilson in “Back to the Future”
Range is a gift and a talent for any actor, and Thomas F Wilson’s many turns as “Biff Tannen” in Back to the Future.
Consider this: he played a rambunctious teenager twice, a self-made business bully and a subservient lacky, a conniving old man AND a villainous, dirty cowboy. Across three movies. I’m still trying to think of a more widely known role any other actor has yet achieved.
Oh and coolest fact I’ve found about a movie yet, Back to the Future is banned in China as they consider time travel “disrespects history.” This means that, potentially, half of the world has never seen Back to the Future.
Rick Moranis in “Spaceballs”
For all the choices above, this list needs a campy, straight-shooting actor who knows when to have fun, and Rick Moranis shone in Mel Brook’s Lucas-blessed parody “Space Balls”.
He provided everything a comedic director would ask for, “Just go out there and be funny.” and Moranis definitely did.
G.W. Bailey in “Police Academy”
While R Lee Eremy as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” epitomised true military authority most teenagers despised, G.W. Bailey’s turn as the underrated leader Lieutenant Harris in “Police Academy” galvanised the comedic version.
Campy and Napoleonic, the character was the butt of the group’s jokes and the source of recalcitrance for many a youth then and today.
And there you have it. Hope this cheered up your day from the long weekend.
Teehee. Of course you shouldn’t pirate any TV show, that’s horrible and illegal. But, as classic comedy TV shows go, these Top 5 are the best at instigating humour and laughter without feeling outdated and old. Keep Reading
I starting writing my own comedy shortfilm as a way to create something I thought I never could. I realised too that, in order for them to be made, I would have to make them.
So, I may have learnt a couple of things along the way that most would never know, some know only too well and others forget.
1. Write your comedy shortfilm properly…then ask a friend if it’s funny
It all starts with the story. I have no specific way of writing anything well, as I haven’t as yet. Everything I write down is an experience in line with an experiment.
The format is key too. Learn to write in a screenplay format, there’s tons of tutorials out there, like this one for my last sketch, the Driving Test. It helps because everyone knows the format.
Don’t wait. I could easily wait until a buddy of mine would show up at my pad, beers in hand and ready to dish out some cool anecdote I’ll be inspired to write down, but it’s not so easy for those that don’t come around to mine.
Don’t look to anybody else for inspiration, just write your story. You can, and should however, look to someone else for guidance after writing it. Get their take, receive their input gladly and follow along with whatever advice they give.
Most times, they’ll be right.
2. Get a better camera than what you’ve got, cos yours is crap
Filming your comedy shortfilm with an iPhone is actually ok. In our first one I used two when myself and Joe Emilio filmed our Driving Test one, and it was easy to use.
However, you can tell the quality is lacking, with depth of field and quality of view. So, get a better camera.
If you’re lucky, get a friend who knows cameras. Maybe he is a cameraman. I know one, he’s cool and wants to do more sketches. I’ll keep at it.
3. Keep it simple, don’t try to redo Police Academy
The first time was with me a Joe, the next with Nathan and a few more. The following was a huge undertaking and it didn’t pan out as well as I would’ve liked.
Focus on the simpler tasks first. Write all your stories, but then focus on the ones you can practically pull off on a shoestring budget with minimal fuss.
It takes a lot to coordinate extras, props, main leads and continuity. Keep it between friends. The bigger stories can be created later when more people follow and believe in you.
4. No beer on set, your grip will let go
I learnt that from my last big production. Don’t bring alcohol to the set as people will start fooling around and make unnecessary noise while director and cinematographer speak.
Keep to simple snacks, drinks and sandwiches. But no alcohol, trust me. It will spare you time.
5. Learn to edit yourself, cos no one else will
That’s my biggest joy of the whole process, the editing phase. I love taking what Iv’e written down, then organising all the clips into one big mess.
And be prepared, this is the most time-consuming part. You will get frustrated with the files you have to sort, the audio you have to bring together and syncing both all at the same time.
And it’s learning the programs. Adobe Premiere is the industry standard, while Final Cut Pro is the layman’s lazy “professional” movie editor. Go for the latter, it’ll save you time.
As for the art of editing, I can’t teach you that. Watch other things and then mimic them. Reproduce the editing in some of the best films you’ve seen and avoid the worst ones. This will take some research.
6. Take care of the special effects and they’ll take care of you
I mean more about the titles and the lighting, as these affect the mood and how audiences perceive your shortfilm. I’m busy reediting my latest short because the lighting is all wrong on so many places and it bothers me.
Where you can, learn about filters and effects. In one comedy shortfilm I filmed long ago, I’m learning Adobe After Effects to turn it into an old 80’s movie complete with broken film (to hide that we never shot the connecting scenes). It’s excruciating, but in the end worth it.
And invest in taking time to make a cool introduction. There’s plenty of title templates to choose one, so use one that’s right for you.
7. Listen to your sound and make sure they can hear the punchline.
Need I say more? Don’t pass up the opportunity to better your sound. If you feel you can’t hear that one thing, fix it and fake it if you have to.
8. Release it and then don’t expect anything
Marketing your comedy shortfilm is the second hardest thing, as nobody would’ve heard nor care about its premise. And it won’t get many likes.
Mine hasn’t. I know. But I gotta keep trying, as I love the process of taking a story to film. Eventually, someone’s going to like it.
Everyone needs a pick-me-up on a Monday, ranging from coffee by the watercooler through to gossip by the expresso machine. Comedy, though, is nice too.
And here, for your viewing pleasure, are the top 5 choices of the funniest movie and TV scenes from classic comedies that’ll perk you right up.
1. Inspector Clouseau in “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” – 1976
Back when it was fashionable to be racist and popularise Eastern culture with Western influences, we overlooked the vindictive comments when slapstick got involved.
None more so than Peter Sellers’ inept detective battling it out with Burt Kwouk’s line-in manservant in his doomed apartment. The choreography was outstanding and mixing the editing speeds kept you guessing where they’ll take you next in one of many similar scenes that rehashed a joke that never got old.
2. Frank Drebin in “The Naked Gun 2 1/2 – The Smell of Fear” -1991
I could run off a great number of scenes from all of Leslie Nielsen’s portrayals of the hapless police detective (seems to be a theme), but none better than one of the best end credits imaginable from the shortlived “Police Squad” TV series he began in.
It took the common theme of pausing on a frame to start the end credits and turned it on its head. Enjoy.
3. Antichrist in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” – 1980
Louw Verwey’s Sam Boga named their broken-down truck “the Antichrist” due to how difficult it was to fix. Sadly, I couldn’t find a clip of his masterful performance, but what you can see of Marius Weyer’s Andrew Steyn struggling to get it out of the water, the name seems well deserved.
A true classic, even if mired in controversy due to the exploitation of the native Nyae Nyae people and the South African government paying for it.
4. Hudson Hawk in “Hudson Hawk” – 1991
4. Hudson Hawk and Tommy Two Tone in “Hudson Hawk – 1991
Many thanks to Carmen J Ali for pointing out I didn’t publish number 4. You can find her on her Twitter, Instagram or her Blog.
One of Bruce Willis’s more underpanned roles, a jazz-swinging cat burglar, the film suffered from pastiche antagonists and desperate McGuffin’s to get the plot rolling, but the outlandish script was cute, cuddly and non-threatening.
The highlight being Willis’s love for jazz and incorporating the best rendition of “Swinging on a Star” as a tool mechanic for timing their robbery. Classic no matter what anyone says.
5. Various characters in “Top Secret!” – 1984
It should really be number one, but saving the best for last and the Zuckers and Abrahams team start their movie franchise with a flawless pisstake of World War 2 films.
It also offered Val Kilmer is debut AND leading film role, hamming it up as American signer Nick Rivers trying to heal the world with rock ‘n roll blonde Elvis tunes. But the credit goes to all the actors as they make the comedy count in every turn.
Don’t forget to hook me up at my Twitter or Instagram accounts for more funny stuff.
I worried over a joke last night that I knew will be offensive because I hadn’t written it correctly and it was raw.
In it, I took the banal arguments I have with people who praise Star Wars over the ludicrously elitism of the Star Trek franchise pre-Abrams, who he himself dragged it kicking and screaming into the 2010’s with Michael Bay-ish aplomb, and compared it to discussions some people like claiming the validity of reverse racism in South Africa.
Obviously, I won’t cover the whole joke here. It’s evolving and I’ll make it work. Keep Reading