Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Looking a little more at the idea of tension: last night I watched a dvd of comedy classics. It struck me that many of the greatest comedy payoffs are resultant through the initial creation of incredible tension, or stress. Or high stakes if you will.

Victor Meldrew is lying in a hospital bed in a private room. In walks a male nurse. They chat a little as the nurse lowers Victor's blankets, smears shaving cream over his nether region, and then pulls out a cutthroat razor.
Eek! Stakes are certainly high - there's much to be lost!
This is compounded by the gradual revelation that this male nurse is not all he seems. His conversation turns from the mundane to the cost of properties on the moon and the problems with moon bricks.
The door opens and a doctor peers in and tries to persuade this imposter to return to his bed.

So the tension evolves from nothing into critical mass. High stakes.

Another classic is the Only Fools and Horses sketch in which Del, Rodney and Grandpa are taking down a priceless chandelier in order to clean it. Grandpa goes upstairs to remove the floorboards and unscrew the fixture. Meanwhile, Del and Rodney have erected two step ladders and hold a blanket with which to catch the chandelier.
So the stakes are once again high and tension prevails: there is a priceless chandelier; there are step ladders from which one might fall; there is the heavy chandelier vs the flimsy blanket. There are any number of terrible fates all established.
When Grandpa releases the wrong chandelier and it smashes upon the floor, the tension peaks and is subsequently released as the trio hurry away in the three-wheeler.

The pic above is to mark the earthquake that made me soil my pyjamas last night. Which, coincidentally, occurred as the result of tension and relief (both the quake and the soiling).

1 comment:

esruel said...

Could have been Westgate Road in Newcastle, looking down from Westgate Hill towards Grainger Street!