American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire

American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire

American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire

American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire


From Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Gehring presents a compelling theory of the black comedy film genre. Placing the movies he discusses in a historical and literary context, Gehring explores the genre's obession with death and the characters' failure to be shocked by it. Movies discussed include: Slaughterhouse Five, Catch-22, Clockwork Orange, Harold and Maude, Heathers, and Natural Born Killers.


I first met Wes Gehring at a writer's conference some ten years ago. An erudite and handsome young man, nattily attired, the possessor of a saber-quick wit, he most certainly did not look the role of a college professor. But there he was, complete with Ph.D. tucked neatly behind his name and the imposing title of Professor of Film on his credentials.

"Professor of film?" I questioned.

"A comedy historian," he clarified.

And so he has proven to be, not only recalling for our enjoyment, but often explaining, obtuse relationships between the antics on the screen and the mores of our time.

As I read an early draft of this latest book on black comedy, questions arose. Did I really understand what Lenny Bruce was saying? How much thought did I give (at the time) to Dr. Strangelove? Or, what was the real meaning behind Billy Wilder Some Like It Hot? The answers to these questions (for me, at least) are lost in the musty convolutions of a mind that at the time was probably (I can't remember for certain) more obsessed with my glands than the real meaning of Frank Capra's Arsenic and Old Lace. I do remember thinking Lenny Bruce probably had to go to confession a lot (Catholics think that way), that Tony Curtis made a good looking filly, that Peter Sellers was funny, and that it would be cool . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.