Community: TV’s modern screwball comedy

A couple of screwballs: Danny Pudi and Chevy Chase of Community

What’s an analogy? According to Britta on Community–which returned Thursday after a four month hiatus, “it’s like a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
Wacky, right, maybe even–screwball? There is enough of a twisted thread of logic to that definition to make you get it, which is more or less this series in a nutshell.
I took time out from screening films from the ’20s and ’30s here in Syracuse, N.Y.–home of Cinefest 32–to watch and file a review of Thursday’s episode of Community. You can find that review here at theStar.com.
I caught an early screwball comedy today at the festival, a 1930 Paramount rarity called Laughter (featuring a young Fredric March and Nancy Carroll). While watching that movie, something clicked about Community–it is a modern screwball comedy.
A basic definition of screwball is that it is a genre of comedy which is unconventional, goes in different directions and behaves in unexpected ways.
That’s Community, by any definition. It is odd to think of a series crammed with meta comedy moments and pop culture references as the bastard step child of Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it–at least until I can ask executive producer Mark Harmon if I’m stretching this hat with another hat on it a little too far.

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