Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Why do the Irish like comedies?

It looks as if The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 might have — in financial terms, at least — saved the year for cinema. Despite being little more than a pallid relocation of the first film to …

Sun, May 29, 2011, 23:03

   

It looks as if The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 might have — in financial terms, at least — saved the year for cinema. Despite being little more than a pallid relocation of the first film to Southeast Asia, H2 has, apparently, just delivered the biggest ever opening for a comedy in the US. Its four-day figures are somewhere in the region of $118 million. KFP2 also delivered with a decent, if not spectacular, $62.4 million.

“Ha ha ha! She’s on, like, fire, dude. Genius!”

The Hangover Part II will undoubtedly eat up the Irish box office. How do we know? Well, for some obscure reason, American comedies always do disproportionately well in this territory. The first Hangover film was a case in point. Despite going up against a Harry Potter picture, that amusing comedy took more money in this territory than any other release during 2009. Back in 2005, we pushed an even less likely entity to the top of the charts. Yes, virtually alone among the world’s cinema-goers, the Irish made Meet the Fockers their favourite film of that year. Really?

It’s an interesting and peculiar phenomenon. Adam Sandler might struggle in Cambodia or South Korea. But, in Ireland, Grown Ups will play to packed houses throughout the summer. If Kevin James gets a bucket stuck on his head. We’ll turn out in droves to see him attempt a removal.

Assessing the roots behind any supposed national trait is a tricky business. Before long you’re indulging in national stereotypes and making quips about Germans depositing towels on beach loungers. So, rather than offer an answer to the conundrum, I’ll leave it as a hanging question. There is no doubt that, more than most nations, we seek to find humour in the most unlikely entertainments. You find this most often at the theatre (if you are eccentric enough to attend such a space). Again and again punters will force out laughs at even the most tepidly amusing gags. At a recent trip to a play (which I was paid to attend) I was amazed and annoyed to hear people snorting with laughter at positively tragic turns of events. It’s as if we don’t feel we’ve been entertained unless we’ve been given a laugh.

I guess it’s a post-colonial thing. My Big Book of Facile Answers informs me that all such phenomena are post-colonial in origin.

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