Reflections On “A Sense Of Humor”

A Sense Of Humor, a short film written and directed by Nathan Larkin-Connolly, stars Heather Morris (of Glee), John Weselcouch and Ashley Lendzion. Premise? “Laura was born without the ability to laugh. When she meets and falls for Charlie, a struggling stand-up comedian, he makes it his life purpose to get her to crack up.”

Nearly the first thing we hear is Charlie telling his stand-up crowd that he hopes the blind date doesn’t make him wish he’s blind because she’s so ugly. Not an auspicious start. And then their relationship starts with him trying to change her. (It’s “perfect” that she can’t laugh because he’s a comedian.)

I wonder if the writer saw that one episode of Seinfeld (one of the main characters breaks up with a woman because she always says “that’s funny” instead of laughing . . . it might have been Seinfeld, actually, which means it would have been one heck of a coincidence if the writer hadn’t seen it, given that Seinfeld is a stand-up comedian).

In terms of how the film is set up, I like the “how to make girls laugh” corkboard. It’s a nice way to structure the attempts. Other than that, it doesn’t really sit well with me — “girls”? What is she, five? Fifteen? (At the same time, I do understand the tendency to call woman-identified contemporaries “girls,” given that “women” often seems so old, especially for people I’ve known since we were, in fact, girls.) And isn’t humour supposed to be universal? Why not “how to make people laugh”?

It also seems a little less than authentic: he’s going through a list of ideas in order to make her laugh. It’s not spontaneous; it’s very, very planned. Plus, the first several seem to involve going overboard in attempts to make himself look lesser (you can’t make her laugh by just being yourself?). It just feels weird to me. And that one attempt is called “force it out”? Really? I feel like “tickle” would have been a far better name.

Oh, wow. After six attempts, Charlie reveals her secret and makes fun of it (calls it “ridiculous,” even) on stage, in front of the entire audience. When Laura tells him she loves him (even telling him she appreciates his humour), he breaks it off with her because she can’t laugh and leaves her on the stage alone. Jerk!

So freaking typical. He realizes he’s fallen in love with her. He goes to her door, wanting to apologize. Laura doesn’t immediately melt (good for her), replying that she doesn’t want his apology and that they didn’t work as a couple. Just to note, Charlie doesn’t actually apologize: he says he wants to apologize and that they worked as a couple, and then he proposes. Proposes! Seriously?

Laura finally laughs. When he asks for her response, she kisses him, and the film ends. Really? Great message, people. Typical romantic comedy, for all that it’s only ten minutes long. As soon as the guy has made some kind of romantic gesture, the woman takes him back (after, perhaps, a token resistance), and it’s supposed to be so sweet.

Not to mention the way they treat the disorder. Granted, I don’t think it’s an actual disorder (right?), but even still, I dislike the dismissive way they treat it. It feels like it feeds into the whole idea that those medical conditions and disorders aren’t serious. It wasn’t real: she just hadn’t found the right man and the right situation.

I liked Heather Morris. Her character seems sweet, although I’m not sure I would’ve remembered her if she hadn’t been played by Heather Morris. The video itself was pretty: the backgrounds, the people, the clothes, the colors. I really like how it looks. I just don’t know that I like much beyond that.

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