Monday, March 11, 2013
In Search of Comic Relief
But don't we all need a little levity?
The comic relief can tell truths where another character would pay dearly, and when he says something particularly profound, the foreshadow sends shivers through us. We swallow the bitterness and ask for more because every statement is mixed with babble and fun.
Alas! The more we love the idiot, the more he becomes a valuable tool for the writer to pull out from under us. Comic relief, aka, expendable.
I'm going to make a case here, with popular Turkish television.
You know how I've been watching my soap, Kuzey Guney?
Enter: Ali Guntan
Ali is all fun and jokes, and more dear to Kuzey than a brother.
In the season two finale, Ali takes a bullet, and it's pretty much Kuzey's fault.
I swear I used up a whole box of tissues from all the crying.
Says me: A curse on both your houses!
Well, that would be Mercutio's line, really.
And doesn't everybody want to play Mercutio?
Obviously, Ali was not the equivalent of Mercutio, but he played the same role.
Without Ali, the writers had to come up with another comic relief - Yunus, a particulary talkative taxi driver. His character doesn't carry the same weight, but he's still useful to the audience for a laugh, and to connect some important dots.
There are some good writers over there at Ay Yapim, I tell you.
Another, less useful example of comic relief is part of my other favorite show, Muhteşem Yüzyıl. In the murderous harem of Hürrem Sultan, eunuchs Gul Aga, Sumbul Aga, and Kiraz Aga provide respite from the drama - a sort of palate cleanser, if you will. The source of clever phrases and comic actions, these guys aren't killed off, but they're frequently sent away.
Now I doubt my village idiot will be as masterful as Mercutio, but my gosh, my characters are tiring me out! Anti-heros, village idiots... At this rate, it feels like I'll never finish this story.
And so I end with this quote from English poet John Dryden:
"Shakespeare show'd the best of his skill in his Mercutio, and he said himself, that he was forced to kill him in the third Act, to prevent being killed by him."