Discussion Questions





Discussion Questions

1. Duos and trios: Do you think the Marx brothers are outlandish or accurately representing an outlandish society? How do the relationships between the Marx brothers make them more than the sum of their parts?

I think that the Marx brothers are outlandish and they represent an outlandish society. Their bizarre character was necessary as it not only gave them material for their work, but it also enabled them to get people’s attention to the events that were happening in the society. Their work demonstrated political satire. They criticized the greed of the politicians and the hypocrisy of the middle class. The brothers learnt to work together and at the same time demonstrated their individual skills and abilities. They were gifted in different areas in music and comedy. They each took different personalities and this was reflected in their costumes and manner of speaking. Chico took on an Italian accent and he became known for playing the piano. Groucho had a cigar and a moustache and he began wearing glasses. Harpo became the silent one and he identified himself with playing the harp and wearing a wig. The brothers combined their abilities and talents to put on an act that satisfied the audience. This made the act unpredictable and exciting. They used comedy inn varying ways and their strategies included puns, slapstick comedy, gags, and one-liners. They played with words in an interesting and humorous way and this enhanced the interest of the audience.

2. Funny Brits: D you wish Mr. Bean spoke more, less, or exactly as much as he does? Why? Is Mr. Bean antisocial? Why or why not?

I prefer the character of Mr. Bean the way it is. This is because it serves the purpose of giving people the freedom to interpret the actions they see. Viewers do not have to depend on the spoken word, which can be disruptive and influential in some situations. By talking less, Mr. Bean encourages the viewers to have a closer look at the actions he does. People have different perceptions and they see things differently. Two people looking at the same event will interpret it in different ways. Thus, whereas someone may see Mr. Bean’s actions as hilarious and worth a good laugh, others will see him as a dull person who does not seem to understand much of what is going on around him. They might see a need and a problem in the way he acts and they may consider it worthy to help people in such situations. I do not think that Mr. Bean is antisocial despite his behavior portraying otherwise. I think that he just does not know how to be social. He will often smile at someone but he does not know what to do next. His actions are mostly well meaning at times, but they always turn out wrongly.

3. SNL: Does the overt violence in several sketches strike you as humorous or gratuitous? Which sketches speak to you most today? Which sketches feel aged or distant?  

The violence in SNL skits is unnecessary and uncalled for, and I do not find them humorous despite the laughter from the audience. The skit about Jesus taking revenge was not only offensive to Christians but it also showed extreme violence. The skit lacked any sort of humor, as it shows Jesus coming to take revenge. Another offensive skit that lacked humor showed Tiger Woods with injuries he sustained after being beaten by his wife. The sketch was a mockery to domestic violence situations, which affect many people in the society. The sketch was unnecessary and insensitive, as it made light of the abuse that victims of domestic violence endure. The sketch about the undecided voter speaks to me as it shows people’s lack of awareness concerning political issues. This sketch spoke to me because it shows how people make poor decision that will affect the rest of their lives because they lack adequate knowledge. Sketches criticizing past political leaders for failing to make the right decisions or those concerned with religious criticism seem aged and distant. They focus on controversial issues and this takes time from discussing the current social issues. In addition, sketches focusing on racial stereotypes seem distant. Some of the stereotypes continue to pervade the society because people keep being reminded of them through the media.

4. Clowns: how does the stage read on film? Do the techniques read differently than film techniques?

The actors on stage relate with their audience in a more personal way compared to film. They are more aware of their audience since they can see them and read their reaction as they perform. Stage and film employ different techniques. Stage actors have to consider their audience. They have to use their voices and body movement in such a way that the audience can understand them. Voice training is necessary and actors have to ensure that they are able to project their voices to all the audience in the theater. They do not have the added benefit of using aids such as camera projections and microphones thus their actions seem exaggerated. Film actors tone down their acting because their actions are augmented. Actors on stage have to act continuously, and they have no freedom to make and correct mistakes and they have to be perfect in their execution. Film directors have more flexibility in changing their scripts and ensuring that the actors are able to deliver their message. They have more resources available to them. They work in open spaces and this gives them flexibility when directing. In addition, they can use music, editing, and other elements to enhance the performance. In contrast, stage directors have to ensure that the actors are able to deliver the play as it is.

5. Mimes: Are these mime pieces easy to understand or would it be easier to follow the words? In Mummenschanz, do you discover a narrative in the non-human mimes pieces? What stories do you find? Describe them

It is surprisingly easy to understand the mime pieces despite their uncommon nature. This is made possible by the effort made to have emotions on different pieces. The performers are able to change the expression on their masks and this makes it easier for the audience to understand the action and the story that is taking place. Initially, a person who has no experience with mimes might find it challenging to understand the actors’ performances. Their creativity has led to the creation of non-human mimes, which enhance the attention of the audience. The non-human forms are able to perform actions that people can relate to. The actors make the costumes in such a way that such mimes can express human emotions and movement. Although it would certainly be easier to follow the performance if words were used, doing so would distract the attention of the audience from the body movements conveyed and facial expressions and gestures. The action enables the audience to form their own judgment and interpretation of what they are seeing. The actors give the audience the freedom of interpretation and they enable them to have different experiences of the same events. I discovered the story of the notepad people. This involves two mimes with different expressions in their faces. The masks are made of paper and they have pen markings that show the eyes and the mouth. As the actors exchange the masks, they reveal different expressions. I understood this to mean the reactions that people have whenever they are communicating. People can change their expressions, which can depict emotions such as happiness, anger, sadness, and surprise among others. The notepad people start tearing each other and this shows that they have failed to disagree on an issue and they are fighting over it.

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