Lucy Davis – Favourite comedy film

June 17, 2007

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The Jerk
Dir: Carl Reiner, 1979
by Lucy Davis

‘I just loved The Jerk so much as a child. I had an LP of it that I would listen to repeatedly. Steve Martin is so good – it doesn’t matter who else is around him. In everything he does, I can’t take my eyes off him. I love the very end of the film. The idiot Navin has made his millions inventing something ridiculous and then at the very end he loses it all. There’s this big, dramatic, morose sequence when he’s got his trousers round his ankles and he’s walking round the house and down the street and saying: ‘I don’t need anything. I don’t need possessions. I don’t need anything. Oh, except this!’ And then he would pick up something random like a telephone and say: ‘That’s all I need. A telephone, and I don’t need anything else. Oh, except this!’ And he picks up something else random, and by the time he’s walking down the street with his pants round his feet he’s carrying a huge pile of the weirdest things.

Comedy in film is a weird thing. If something’s sold as a comedy, as an audience member you can sit there thinking, OK then, let’s see how funny you think you are. When you’re watching something that isn’t meant to be a comedy and something funny happens, it’s easier to laugh because you’re not expecting it. I had always thought I liked comedies to come out of very real, natural situations like The Office, but I love the sitcom Nighty Night, which isn’t natural, because every moment in there comes from her being truthful.

This interview first appeared in Observer Review’s Best comic films piece

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