Fellow writer cleo has written why comedy wrestling is important and her view of it. This is my defence. Comedy wrestling is much vaunted by some fans, and much maligned by others. It’s divisive but I don’t think it needs to be. Wrestling is beautiful and visceral, but with so much physicality, there needs to be lighter spots. It gets said often, and excuse the paraphrasing, that successful circus can’t just have 12 jugglers and nothing else. This also applies to wrestling – you can’t have a show full of high-flyers. You need variety.
Jim Cornette, for all his experience and apparent wisdom, has some very specific reasons for comedy in wrestling as this audio reveals.
His central tenet seems to be that comedy has to be within character and never breaking the fourth wall. As we’ve seen from films like Deadpool, or in the TV show Fleabag – that would never work… or maybe he has a point, maybe he’s been watching Mrs. Brown’s Boys.
Also in the same audio Mr. Cornette seems to spend a long portion of it confirming that he’d done funny spots. For his comedy: “some people would chuckle but most wouldn’t laugh”. I admit this is a slight misrepresentation as that is a small portion of a longer section where he contextualises his comedy. Far be it for me to judge someone based on a short clip consumable via the internet. Instead, we need to take a holistic view. Look at how the comedy fits in with the rest of the match and how it fits in with the show as a whole.
A comedy spot in isolation can look nasty and as a gif of course it may give a false impression. As part of a match it fits better. It could be used as an introduction to a match – everything starts light hearted and fun but the heel doesn’t like it and starts battering people. A match then ensues. Alternatively it could be a light reprieve if the heel is dominating the match and then made to look daft and win support for the good guy along with the pathos. It could even be a whole match of japes, for example one of the best matches I’ve seen was Mad Man Manson vs Grado in Progress.
Those such as Cornette will deride comedy on the whole but here is why we shouldn’t – other than it being needed to provide variety. Comedy takes intellect. Outside of wrestling you could look at the Marx Brothers and argue there’s nothing clever about slapstick, but that’s where there’s a misconception. To do effective comedy, there needs to be a deep understanding of the subject matter. My favourite analogy is Jack Black of Tenacious D and Kung Fu Panda fame. He’s a brilliant musician but gets very little credit for that because he does comedy music with “The D”. To be as good as he is, he needs to know the rules of music and lyricism and then break the rules to make it funny.
The same is true of wrestling. Someone like Colt Cabana has to know how wrestling works, almost at a meta-level to then subvert those rules. Dan Barry, one half of Team Tremendous said of his match against the AFP in Progress that it was the subversion of rules that made the match funny. In the early exchanges, one of Team Tremendous ran the ropes and built up momentum (the expectation being that an impact move like a clothesline was coming). In the end this momentum generation developed into a headlock. The expectation successfully subverted into a very unlikely end result.
Another exponent, often miscast as “just a comedy” guy is Gene Munny. The Damn Dirty Dog is an expert at generating a reaction from a crowd. Just because he’s good at comedy and using it to get a positive reaction doesn’t take away from his ability to wrestle. He’s been the Resurgence champion and only lost in a huge match against Charli Evans which solidified the credentials of both competitors as top-tier talent.
Wrestling is a diverse, multi-faceted weave of different cultures, styles and peoples. To decry comedy wrestling as somehow lesser takes away part of that diversity. Comedy is great. Wrestling is great. Comedy wrestling is the best.
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