Pathos has been a tried and true American comedy staple for about as long as there has been American comedy, and runs the gamut from classic Looney Tunes cartoons to Richard Pryor to Louie.
In the world of sitcoms, it has been a more hit or miss proposition.
Some subjects have worked, like economic hardship (Good Times, Sanford and Son, Roseanne) or familial discord (The Honeymooners, Married With Children), but others, like substance abuse (The John Larroquette Show) death (Dead Like Me) and the horrors of the high school social pecking order (Freaks & Geeks) never caught on. In an overused descriptive phrase, supporters claimed audiences didn’t “get it.”
On the contrary, I believe, audiences got it all too well but were made conspicuously uncomfortable about being asked to laugh at familiar and painful subjects. That’s the rub. How to get viewers to accept laughter they need. It is, after all, the best medicine.Read More