"Cruel and Unusual Comedy"...on the air on NPR

Elif Rongen-Kaynakci and Steve Massa were guests on the Leonard Lopate Radio Program on March 16, 2012.

Listen here:

about the notes/series

from Steve and Ben, about this site and the film notes:

We have created this blog to provide our own film notes for each of the "Cruel and Unusual Comedy" film programs to supplement the spoken introductions at each program and because there will not be printed film notes distributed at the shows. We chose to post these as a blog to give people who've seen the films at the shows at MoMA to post reactions to them. We do not work at MoMA (although Ben has been accompanying silent films there for the last 26 years) and these independent film notes are our own initiative.

The MoMA Film Department's archive contains hundreds of  rare comedy shorts. Many are complete, and many are incomplete, and a majority of them lack original titles. We have been holding private screenings of these since 2003, when we began looking at MoMA's Arbuckle film holdings for the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle retrospective we co-curated with Ron Magliozzi (who does work for the film dept) in 2006. The three of us have continued screening these shorts, along with Eileen Bowser who is largely responsible for MoMA's preserving so many slapstick films.

After the success of the 2-month Arbuckle retro, we decided to create a series out of the many, many rare comedy shorts we'd screened over the years, and came up with the device of grouping them by different aspects of society that the comedians drew on for material: drinking, violence, treatment of animals, ethnic humor, et al.

We presented five programs in May 2009 at MoMA, and these were successful enough to get us another five programs this fall, October 6 to 14, 2010. Click through the "Film Notes" in the right column to read our film notes from May 2009.

-- Steve Massa and Ben Model, New York NY

Eileen Bowser, Ron Magliozzi, Steve Massa & Ben Model