The Essential Goofy

Classic Goofy model sheet


Here is a great video about Walt Disney’s Goofy character. Art Babbitt wrote notes about Goofy for the animators to think about when working on him. The notes form the narration over some classic Goofy clips.  It is an invaluable look into how well thought out Disney’s characters are.  They include concepts of both his interior mental operation, and how his body should be posed and moved. Putting these ideas into words helps define how a character is different from others and helps keep them consistent.


Dr. Kill and Mr. Chance

I just ran across this zany ten-year-old short film, Dr. Kill & Mr. Chance. It’s a live action short built on a classic cartoon aesthetic.  It was all shot on blue screen, with the background and effects added.  It is reminiscent of the Jim Carrey movie, The Mask.  The director, Jean-Yves Chalangeas, plays the bad guy, Dr. Kill.   Mr. Chance is the kind of character who has luck on his side.  I wrote about these types in my post, The Lucky Character.  The storyline is very much like the roadrunner and coyote cartoons, where everything goes wrong for the bad guy.  Dr. Kill is apparently an assassin, and Mr. Lucky is his target, but there is no other information than that, so we don’t know why he’s sent to kill such an apparently nice guy.  At least the Coyote has the motivation of being hungry.

I would not describe this film as successful. But I do appreciate the effort, and it encourages me to wonder how this sort of thing could work. Even The Mask, with top talent involved, had its shortcomings. I think trying to recreate Tex Avery style in a realistic environment is not very appealing.  The curvy buildings and garish colors are just weird. There are some modern live-action films with extreme slapstick that are way funnier.  The films of Stephen Chow, such as Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, are great examples.

There is one curious moment.  A bundle of dynamite with a lit fuse comes into the story. Mr. Chance uses it to light a cigarette, then a cigar, and finally a huge joint. That was the one moment where I thought it could develop into something interesting.  I would rebuild the story around that, and have Mr. Chance be a likable stoner, and Dr. Kill be Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  At least it would be relevant and make more sense.

It appears they wanted this to be the first in a series, but the website is no longer active.  Here is a making-of video with English subtitles.


Massage comedy

I had noticed that massage was something that turned up regularly in physical comedy.  Of course, it’s pure physical interaction, usually involving an aggressive masseuse or masseur.  Patients, or clients, can be incredibly pleased, awkwardly uncomfortable, or bent into pretzel shapes.  Often, the person giving the rubdown is not who they think they are and are behaving badly. I had been keeping a list of YouTube videos with funny massage scenes for future reference.

Recently, master animator Richard Williams posted this tweet about the upcoming Aardman film Early Man.

If Williams thinks it’s a stunning comic achievement, he’s got me even more excited than I was already.  It appears the massage happens in the bathtub, judging by this promotional image.

Early man massage

I had time today, so I assembled a dozen or so clips of funny massage scenes from movies, TV, and cartoons.  I hope you like it.  If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel please do.  And check out some of my other video essays on comedy in animation.


Osamu Tezuka’s Broken Down Film

Here is Osamu Tezuka’s short “Broken Down Film.” I saw this way back in college, and now I think it’s a little dated. I wonder how many kids would understand the joke about the hair in the gate of the projector.  There are some pauses that run a little long for short attention span types. Still, I think this is a must see for anyone for appreciates silent comedy and animation.


Lessons from runway models on how to be funny.

I was a sailor on one of the first Navy ships to have women serve on board.  One evening I was hanging out with some other guys in the machine shop when a cute girl came through, back from her evening out on the town.  She was nicely dressed in civilian clothes, and as she passed by we all took in the sight.  She strutted past with a smile on her face.  When she reached the hatch at the other end of the compartment, she caught her foot and fell right to the deck.  Hilarity ensued. Runway model fails are pretty much the same thing.

Beautiful, important, and serious people have long been the target of physical comedy. Runway models delicately perched on high heels are primed to be brought down to earth.   There are some lessons to be found.

It’s all about the ankles.

If you are beginning to fall, and want to be even funnier, struggle to maintain your balance for a really long time, recover, and then fall.

While most models try to recover instantly, you can also get to an awkward balancing pose, and hold it there for comic effect.

This one is simple and direct. Catch the foot, big key pose, go down,

If you fall once, falling a second time isn’t funny.  You have to go all the way to 3 or more falls.  Single falls are best when the model drops completely off the stage and disappears.

Or, like this woman, wear a giant headdress and appear to vanish under its weight.

Seriously, just look at these shoes. What monster designed those?

If you fall, having a cute smile and laughing at yourself about it is the best way to look less stupid.  Just own it.

This savage literally steps over the body of a fallen comrade sprawled on the runway.

Here is probably the best compilation of runway model fails.



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