In this video essay Tony Zhou explores the idea of comedy in films, specifically focusing on Edgar Wright and the unique strategies Wright uses to create jokes. This video essay seems mostly explanatory but uses poetic elements to further illustrate Zhou’s points. If you were to just read the script of Tony Zhou’s voiceover for this video, you would still get a basic understanding of his ideas, but a reader wouldn’t get to experience any of the unique humor Zhou shows. Whether its clips of people in Wright movies leaving the frame in unconventional ways, or Zhou interrupting his own voiceover only to finish his sentence with a line from Scott Pilgrim, this video essay incorporates Edgar Wright style humor directly into it’s argument.
Zhou’s pointed out in this video essay the ways in which traditional American comedies are limited, and the many more inventive ways there are for directors to actually add humor to movies. He points out that standard American comedies focus mostly on dialogue to make jokes. Zhou is even so bold as to say that “These movies aren’t movies, they’re lightly edited improv.” Zhou points this out in order to suggest that filmmakers can use many other devices other than dialogue to deliver jokes. There are lots of different forms of visual humor, “perfectly timed sound effects,” and plenty more. These points made me start to think about what other creative ways a movie could set up a joke. I think the argument for more creativity is what was partly so intriguing to me about this video essay. These ideas really stuck with me because it helped me to realize why certain comedies have stuck with me more than others. For example, certain jokes from Monty Python movies have stuck with me, and I realize now that it is mostly because of the creative use of jokes, like framing, expected distance between characters, etc.
Having watched this and a few other video essays from Tony Zhou, I can see that pace, style, and tone dramatically change the way a video essay will impact its viewers. Zhou’s tone connoted that he was stating facts, not opinions. As a viewer I wanted to believe Zhou because of this assertive tone. Zhou’s tone is also more casual than the tone of more formal, explanatory video essays. The more casual tone of Zhou’s video makes the analysis feel more like a conversation or casual encounter than a lecture or paper. The “script” of the video essay doesn’t actually feel like a script, but seems more like Zhou recorded his dialogue on the spot while making his video. I think this tone is more appealing to casual viewers, drawing in a larger audience than a video that specifically appeals to film scholars. One other unique aspect of Zhou’s video essay, was his use of movie clips to finish his own sentences, or make points. It’s pretty standard to use movie clips as examples for an argument, but Zhou took things a step further and would occasionally just let the movie clips make most of the point for him. This video essay was engaging, creative, and informative, leaving me excited to look for more creative film comedies.