Sunday, 26 June 2011
So what makes Black Comedy black?
Well, according to John Truby the protagonist must have a negative goal. The world he inhabits must be full of madness; mad people pursuing negative and illogical aims. A good example is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Yossarian wants to be grounded to escape the madness of yet more bombing missions and the danger of imminent death and tries every insane technique to achieve his aim. Around him are a hilarious cast of characters, each as mad as the other in their reaction to the war: the doctor who moans constantly about being drafted after having unsuccessfully exempted himself from active service, the General who thinks he can have people 'taken out and shot' on a whim, the inadequate Major Major who only allows people into his office to see him when he isn't there.
And in the midst of it is the inevitable tragedy of death and destruction, otherwise it wouldn't be "Black". The shocking deaths which occur are made all the more poignant by some hilariously crafted scenes, like Yossarian standing in for an already dead airman whose parents have come all the way from New York to visit him before he dies. And somehow the dire straits of all the characters makes their predicaments funnier.
I've discovered Catch 22 late - I seem to remember school friends talking about in my early years. But that may not be a bad thing.