September 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 11  

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Listen to mary J. - no more drama at Oscars

What the Shuk?
Mark Polishuk

Opinions Editor

This past week saw London host the Canadian Comedy Awards and unlike 90 per cent of the events London hosts, everything went smoothly. All in all, a job well done.

Of course, the "awards" themselves were mostly an excuse for a bunch of comedians to get together and entertain audiences, which is cool. Trying to actually pick what is funny and what is not is like apples and oranges. Some people might appreciate the wit of an Albert Brooks, while others might belly-laugh at Adam Sandler.

The very idea of an award show for comedy made me wonder why there was no such thing as the Drama Awards.

Oh wait, that's the Academy Awards.

The Oscars have a long and shameful history of more or less ignoring comic performances. Legendary comedians like Buster Keaton, Bob Hope and Steve Martin don't even have a nomination between them, let alone a win. Comedians only get recognized by the Academy when they take on a dramatic role, like Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. The great Charlie Chaplin never won an Oscar for acting, directing or writing his acclaimed comedies, though he did get one for (of all things) writing a musical score.

Look at the list of Best Picture winners. There are few "real" comedies, since about as close as Oscar gets is with witty romances (Annie Hall) or light-hearted musicals (Chicago).

As anyone who has acted at any level (high school drama class, baby!) will tell you, it's much harder to do comedy than drama. Some people just do not have the natural ability to be funny, even if they're reading great lines. This is not to denigrate dramatic acting, since someone like Sean Penn is obviously talented, but almost anyone can achieve the basic level of furrowing their brows and looking grim. It's like Joey's style of acting on Friends, where the best way to look distressed is to try to solve long division problems in your head.

Ideally, the Oscars could adopt the format of the Emmys or the Golden Globes, where they have separate categories for drama and comedy. Trying to choose which acting performance is "best" is usually a subjective call anyway, but that is still no reason why an entire genre is continually snubbed from consideration.

It's frustrating to see dramatic actors take the same old cliched roles as invalids or troubled loners (cough, cough, Gladiator... cough, cough) and have Oscars rained upon them, whereas comic performances only get the proverbial golden shower.



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