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Film / The Comedy

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The Comedy is an indie film by Rick Alverson starring Tim Heidecker and featuring Eric Wareheim, Gregg Turkington, and James Murphy in supporting roles.

Rather than being, you know, a comedy, the film follows Heidecker's character Swanson who has been completely engulfed by irony and become disconnected with everything around him, save for the fleeting jokes between him and his "friends." The film is loosely set up with Swanson set to inherit his comatose father's wealthy estate, but a majority of the narrative simply focuses on his immature tangents across New York.

The film premiered at Sundance in January 2012 before its limited theatrical release in November. The first ten minutes were also deliberately leaked online before its release.

Tropes present:

  • The Alcoholic: Swanson and his friends are almost always seen drinking.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Swanson's friends, and Swanson himself when he's with them. They make fun of any shred of genuine emotion, and the film serves as a deconstruction of what that leaves in their lives.
  • Dumb Blonde: It's not that Swanson is dumb, he just acts incredibly immature because he doesn't give a shit about anything.
  • Hipster: Swanson and his friends all qualify, as the film is a critique of the hipster lifestyle.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Swanson's immaturity allows him to genuinely enjoy activities like playing on the beach with an actual child.
  • Kavorka Man: Swanson is sarcastic, immature, and frequently drunk with a beer gut to match. He is also seen piquing the interest of at least two women throughout the film, sleeping with one of them and only striking out with the second due to the intervention of a seizure.
  • Lack of Empathy: Pretty much Swanson's defining characteristic. He is completely uncaring about his father's encroaching death, ridiculously insensitive to his sister-in-law's grief over his brother's incarceration, and shows no emotion other than vague entertainment while watching his coworker have a seizure right in front of him.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Employed several times to demonstrate the absence of emotion—even sadness—in Swanson's stoic demeanor. In one scene, he caresses a women's face as she sleeps after they've hooked up, only for the camera to linger long enough for Swanson to start picking at her eyebrows to see if she'll continue sleeping.
  • Manchild: Swanson is a deconstruction. He has been made indifferent about pretty much everything in his life, implicitly due to his wealthy upbringing. The way he handles the situations he gets himself into are reflective of a child's demeanor. Appropriately, the final scene in the movie shows him playing in the surf with an actual child, which is the only experience in the film he seems to genuinely enjoy.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Comedy is not a comedy, at least in the traditional sense.
  • The Social Darwinist: Swanson expresses this view while talking with a woman at a party, claiming people gave up feudalism too fast, that some are just naturally superior with the rest being akin to drones (though he insists this isn't a racist thing, and some black guys are among the elite). He adds that Hitler had some good ideas on this line, though not the mass murdering part. It's probable he's just saying this to shock though, and the woman didn't seem to take it seriously.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Swanson never displays any emotion besides fleeting, situational joy (which is always lingered on long enough to fade) and vague curiosity. The film teases that any sort of emotion he could feel would be a triumph.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Swanson is some kind of inversion; he's unsympathetic, and he is the film's protagonist, but the way this is portrayed is not comedic in the slightest.