From Jane Austen’s Emma using the upper class regency dating conventions to craft the rom-com to Taika Waiti’s JoJo Rabbit (the script off of the novel) using the unconventional setting of WW2 Germany to create a satirical coming-of-age comedy, history has proved to be a sand-box for comedians.
Every act that the homo sapiens sapiens since they learnt how to write has been a convoluted mess - well, probably not all the time- while paying attention to history class I can’t help but ask the humans in the past “What were you thinking?”
I think there is a beauty, joy, -most likely just a sliver-lining- in the ironic craziness that is our past. Therefore I present to you 3 prompts for a next set of comedies that would not use the internet, or gen z, as a punch line.
THE MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE (1810-1821)
This movement is just a recollection of failings that somehow led into a thing akin to victory.
From a guy that literally gave up the chance at independence because he remembered that he left the stove on - historians debate till this day why Miguel Hidalgo didn’t take the capital when he could. To another more capable fella that also almost accomplished the independence but: 1) Trust his buddies to handle very important stuff instead of just doing it himself and 2) Gave all the insurgent army intel under the threat of, not dying, but going to hell.
And who could forget the last Viceroy of New Spain who signed the independence papers just so that he could get back at the King of Spain for incarcerating him; that was some very very cold vengeance.
I can see this crazy event being a series of short anecdotal comics, a web-series of skits, or a musical with “Los Sentimientos De La Nación” The Feelings of the Nation (a very important document that make the Mexican independence The Mexican Independence) as a ballad, it even has a grandiose ending in which the leaders of the opposite bands hug and walk together into the threshold of the capital.
WORLD WAR 1 (1914-1918)
Now, I know that what is considered to be one of the most gruesome wars in human history might not be what someone would think for the setting of a comedy but, I want you to remember my example in the first paragraph and Dr. Strangelove (1964).
One of the fun facts that I know about this period is that, “at the time of the first world war, the rulers of the world’s three greatest nations – King George V of Great Britain and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia on the one hand, and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on the other – were first cousins?
Their grandmother was Queen Victoria. The German Kaiser said that if she were alive, she would never have allowed them to go to war with each other.”
(The First World War, East Sussex).
Now just imagine this, a story that explores what would had happened if Queen Victoria had still being alive during that time, taking some liberties with the characterization of the queen I think it would be very funny just having this angry grandma about how their grandsons are destroying the world because they cannot just get along.
Or what about a moment in which the Tsar Nicholas II, King George and Kaiser Wilhelm, just had to meet for some family reason, like a dinner they really cannot escape, and there they are just looking at each other, trying to make small-talk and hitting a wall because, yeah, we are a war with Kaiser.
I could see the format as a satirical movie or novel with witty prose, maybe a short film or story if it gets boring as it drags out.
THE GREAT EMU WAR (NOV. 2 1932 - DIC. 10 1932)
My apologies to any Australian readers that probably had gotten teased because of this very weird and surreal war of the 20th century.
History says that the emus decided to go for a nice vacation in western Australia to the chagrin of ww1 veterans turned farmers because when these birds party, they PARTY, causing destruction all around their crops.
The farmers asked the government for armament which it gladly offered, with the minister of defense thinking he could use it to show that he was taking care of the veterans. Long story short, a lot of bullets were fired however the emus won because they were A LOT.
I could see the emu war as part of a cartoon in which a bunch of wacky characters for some reason time travel, and this time they are stuck in one of the weirdest wars humankind has ever fought, maybe with a debate about animal cruelty, the absurdity of war and where the farmers the bad guys?
I’m aware that not all people share the same brand of humor, but I do believe that comedies set in the past serve to humanize it- because who hadn’t looked back and thought that people back then were just serious wet blankets.
In the end, history is just the way we look at the past, and there are just so many ways - why don’t we try looking for the fun in it?
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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