Examples of sublime humor

I’m trying to think of examples of books, movies, music, and other art forms that:

  1. Are primarily intended to be humorous
  2. At the same time, are profound, beautiful, moving, and so forth.

Woody Allen springs first to my mind, although his films do seem to be either more of (1) or more of (2).

Another is some parts of Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… by virtue of plausibly arguing that the most profound things about existence are all jokes.

What else?

Garrison Keillor, who even as I type is being pitted. David Sedaris, Sherman Alexie.

Terry Pratchett.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

“It’s the wrong way.”

Oh you didn’t mean the Band…nevermind.

Wes Anderson’s movies Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums. The only times I’ve laughed and cried during the same movie. (Err, that would be two displays of emotion each.)

To me, that’s a funny definition of sublime.

It implies that humor is by nature lowbrow. To my mind, almost any good comedy is going to have artistic merit, so I would have a hard time citing any comedy I like that doesn’t fit your definition.

When I think ‘sublime,’ I’m thinking of something that appears to aim low, but on some level makes very subtle comments, or has something else to elevate it. You know - so bad it’s good (and you suspect the creator intended it that way).

“Married with Children” was an extremely lowbrow show, but at the same time was a deconstructionist analysis of the American sitcom, and of comedy cliches in general.

Treviathan, I absolutely loved that book. Did I hear talk of a possible movie?

Main Entry: sublime
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): sub·lim·er; -est
Etymology: Latin sublimis, literally, high, elevated
Date: 1586
1 a : lofty, grand, or exalted in thought, expression, or manner b : of outstanding spiritual, intellectual, or moral worth c : tending to inspire awe usually because of elevated quality (as of beauty, nobility, or grandeur) or transcendent excellence
If you want comedy that is lofty in thought, expression or manner, then all of Shakespere’s comedy works would qualify, in my opinion. Some of his historical plays, as well (near the end of Henry V, where he’s “courting” Kate, cracks me up every time).

Not by nature. But humor is one of those art forms that can get away with being… well… otherwise… not that good. I’ll watch brainless, artless stuff if it makes me laugh (or if there are a lot of hot chicks). Married With Children did both. :smiley:

That point is well taken. I think a better way to put the question might have been - “What comedies are able to make you laugh, and do other things for you that leave lasting impressions as well?” Or. “Given: Adam Sandler is the doritos of art. What snack foods in the artistic realms are actually good for you?”

I can see what you mean about Married With Children also being an analysis of culture. But to me that only shows how MWC can also work as an essay… but the old question, “Is Al Bundy a work of art?” I guess comes back again, and this wouldn’t satisfy me that it’s art.

About 10 years ago I’d have said, “Sure. Married With Children is art.” Now I’d say I need a compelling case for it. WHo knows when, if ever, I was right?

Yeah, fair enough…I’m just so affected by the chemical term sublimate, that whenever I hear the word ‘sublime’ applied to arts, it adds a connotation in my head of something that transforms from concrete to ethereal against one’s expectations.

I can’t remember where or when, but I remember hearing that yes, it was going to be turned into a movie, and adapted from the book by Nick Hornby (which rocks, if you ask me). Nothing turns up on IMDB, though, so it might just be a rumour at this point.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (the book, since I’ve never seen any movie or stage versions), without a doubt gets my vote. Wall-to-wall humor and depth that can only be absorbed, and not easily discarded like lots of pop culture pablum.

–peepthis, who also likes a good Adam Sandler movie from time to time

Since somebody said Adam Sandler was a Dorito, I have to offer this example of sublime humor: Punch-Drunk Love!

Speaking of P.T. Anderson, Boogie Nights also deserves mention here.

All of Todd Solendz’s films, Welcome To The Dollhouse and Happiness. His films can be so depressing and yet so funny. They are difficult to watch, but very rewarding.

Woody Allen was already mentioned, though I’d particularly praise Annie Hall for its sublime humor.

Then there’s About Schmidt, The Fisher King, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Ghost World–all excellent films that exercise the intellect as well as the funny bone. About Schmidt, Ghost World and The Fisher King go the extra mile and exercise our pathos, as well.

John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meaney

Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman.

I love everything that Douglas Adams has written.

Zen and the art of motercycle maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Even cowgirls get the blues by Tom Robbins

Dorothy Parker’s The Waltz

Two entries immediately come to mind:

  1. The Princess Bride - functions at all levels

  2. Babe - a kid’s movie that is genuinely funny and teaches a great lesson that doesn’t feel forced.

What about Dramedy type of TV shows, such as the West Wing or Scrubs??