"Put simply, physical comedy is the art of revealing what is vulnerable, imperfect, and laughable about man — not through argument, not through discourse, but through the body, through the picture that is worth a thousand laughs."
Looking deep into the history (actually the first post) of John Towsen's great blog We All Fall Down I found this this brilliant article which brings our attention to the inherent folly in human endevours. How we can't escape, we will never be in full control, for that, life is to grand and intricately complicated. We know that those that say they know what's going on are misinformed. He begins with Murphy's Law a perfect point of origin for the philosophy of Clown, and takes it to Illuminated heights.
Some of you might recognize the name of this author from his authoritarian history of Clowns: A Panoramic History of Fools and Jesters, Medieval Mimes, Jongeleurs and Minstrels, Pueblo Indian Delight Makers and Cheyenne Contraries, Harlequins and Pierrots, Theatrical Buffoons and Zanies, Circus Tramps, Whitefaces, and Augustes. A great, detailed history of the Craft of Elegant Chaos. For those that aren't familiar with either his book or blog. I recommend you peruse them at first opportunity.
As a kick start here is a superb article by Towsen which might just wet your appetite for his musings.
The following excerpts are from the article Zen and the Heart of Physical Comedy: The Revenge of Murphy's Law. (The article in full below.)
“That the fruit of four and a half billion years can be undone in a careless moment is a fact against which belief rebels,”Those of you who remember some of the details of what happened that faithful day in Ukraine when the Chernobyl power plant exploded you will appreciate the accuracy of the details in the following excerpt.
"This Russian two-reeler is full of laughs as our Fiercely determined technicians, Laurelovitch and Hardyofsky, end perfectly good reasons to turn off the emergency cooling system, remove all but a few control rods while leaving the reactor operating, and disengage all safety systems designed to implement automatic shutdown.
When Mrs. Hardyofsky — in this version played by a Soviet nuclear expert — returns home, she is shocked beyond belief to learn that the menfolk have deliberately disabled so many safety and warning systems, then run the reactor in a very unstable condition. But they did, and our little tragi-comedy ends with the prospect of millions of people, even the unborn (politely referred to as third- and fourth party victims), paying the price in sequels yet unfilmed."
"Whatever can go wrong will go wrong in a big way. Who could better tell this simple truth about ourselves than the clown? The clown revels in the mundane, celebrating the ever-recurring awkwardnesses inherent in our daily struggle to maintain equilibrium. The clown’s world of naivete is but a microcosm of our complex universe."
"By nature a physical comedian, the clown catalogs and insists on re staging man’s inevitable mishaps and miscalculations, and then really rubs it in by irreverently depicting the ego’s involvement in the struggle: not just the pride that goeth before destruction and the haughty spirit that precedes a fall that Solomon First warned us about, but also the terrible embarrassment that follows, and the noble attempts at cover-up.We trip on the sidewalk. In a revealing moment of truth, our eyes blink, our cheeks blush, our breath shortens, our muscles tense, our stomach churns. Furtive sideways glances check the scene for eyewitnesses. We attempt a quick return to normalcy. Denial, denial, denial.
But while we are taught to hide error and above all maintain our cool, the clown is humanity’s lie detector test and safety valve. The clown shows us that precise moment of cover-up, the instant when one’s self-assurance is stripped away. “It really isn’t the trip itself that’s funny,” explains Bill Irwin. “It’s the gestures and motions afterwards, the looking back at the spot, the trying to make an excuse for having tripped.”
Read the full Article here or right here:
Zen & the Heart of Physical Comedy