Comedic Intent

For a series that’s set in a totalitarian society, The Hunger Games Trilogy has a lot of humor wrapped up in its pages. We all know some of the more obvious moments of shear humor, the times where Katniss’ internal monologue is so snarky, that we can’t help but let out a guffaw, or a snort of laughter. They’re few and far between, but so is the nature of the beast that is dystopian fiction, where humor breaks the tension for the audience and the characters alike. However, there are moments throughout the series that aren’t intentionally funny, or maybe I’m just a sick, twisted individual who laughs at completely inopportune times (this does actually happen to me in real life), and thus disturbing people in movie theatres, in coffee shops, and even myself. Some of the best intentionally funny moments in the series though, they’re just gems. Maybe it’s a bit of the Clarissa Darling coming out in Suzanne Collins when she wrote some of these moments, but all that doesn’t matter– because they are funny, and that is what matters.

Since Catching Fire is what’s up next to accost our retinas in multiplexes across the globe, we’ll go there for now.

  1. When Katniss is contemplating who she can confide in after Snow’s visit to her home in District 12. “Hey, Peeta, remember how I told you i was kind of faking being in love with you? Well, I really need you to forget about that now and act extra in love with me or the president might kill gale.” Katniss and her internal monologue, making us snort into books since 2008, ladies and gentlemen.
  2. Oddly enough the next humorous moment happens within the same damn paragraph! How ever does Collins do it!? “That leaves Haymitch. Drunken, cranky, confrontational Haymitch, who I just poured a basin of ice water on.” Well, he did tell her to get him up before everyone got there! I think the visual of her actually doing this might be the belly grabber though– maybe it’s because we all know how we’d react to someone pouring water over our heads, thus we react almost physically to it– or maybe that’s just me?

Now for some unintentionally funny moments, or as I’ll call them, Things Them There Eyes Finds Funny But Other People Might Not (oh well).

  1. Perhaps I’m just not a romantic movie moment fan like the next girl, but this moment in Chapter 2 of Catching Fire. “My face breaks into a huge smile and I start walking in Peeta’s direction. Then, as if I can’t stand it another second, I start running. He catches me and spins me around and then he slips — he still isn’t entirely in command of his artificial leg —and we fall into the snow, me on top of him, and that’s where we have our first kiss in months. It’s full of fur and snowflakes and lipstick, but underneath all that. I can feel the steadiness that Peeta brings to everything.” I know, I know… it’s a fake romantic moment, and it’s purposefully laid on thick on Katniss’ part, because she’s scared shitless that everything she cares about will be destroyed. I get that, but the corn kind of gets to me, and makes me giggle– just not like a school girl with a raging crush.
  2. Okay now this one is not supposed to make people laugh at all, I know it’s not– and now you will just have to bear witness to the inner workings of my mind– because this description gets me every single time. It’s from the Second Quarter Quell sequence in Chapter 14. “Haymitch has his own troubles over in the woods, where the fluffy golden squirrels turn out to be carnivorous and attack in packs…” First of all, when I think of fluffy I think of this.

And then I’m also thinking of that famous scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail– you know the one, right? The one with the rabbit, the most cruel rabbit. Click the video, and laugh your asses off.

Clearly making me think of an animated little girl shaking a stuffed unicorn doll vigorously, was not Suzanne Collins’ intention, nor was it her intention to make me think of a classic comedy from the 1970s that changed the face of comedy for ever and ever– but what can I do, or what can she do? Not a damn thing, which is fine– ’cause fluffy killer squirrels that kill in packs are something that can be scary if you’ve never been exposed to anything at all, and don’t yell at the real live squirrels that live by your house, name each of them Fatty, and laugh at them when they fight each other in the yard.

Dems the breaks, and at least I didn’t bring up Finnick in his underwear, ’cause that darlings… is hilarious. 

Them There Eyes

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8 comments

  1. Mockingjay has many moments of intentional, mostly dark humor. Plutarch is the king of humor that’s unintentional on his part, but intentional on Collins’, with his clueless/callous comments, as when he cheerfully tells Katniss that they’ve almost managed to convince Peeta she’s not a mutt. Or when Katniss is stating her conditions for becoming the Mockingjay, the entire dialogue where Plutarch and Coin are discussing whether Katniss/Gale would make a good romantic couple for the props, and when Coin tells Katniss she’s free to take Gale as a lover while they still keep up the pretense of them being cousins for the public – it’s a rare moment when Coin is being funny (while, of course, it’s completely unintentional on her part; I’m sure that’s the only way she can be funny).

    Johanna, on the other hand, is good with intentional dark humor with many of her comments in MJ, as when she retells Katniss and Gale the rest of the cafeteria scene and Peeta’s tantrum/breakdown, and that the good thing about it was that nobody noticed that she finished his stew. (I’m imagining this scene playing out in the movie, all angsty and intense, and then while Peeta is going crazy and getting taken away, we just see Johanna matter-of-factly taking the chance to steal his stew. It could be really funny.)

    Of course, there’s also the aforementioned scene with Finnick, “Do you find this…distracting?” and Boggs’ comment: “Don’t expect us to be impressed, we just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”

  2. oh my gosh I was thinking of Monty’s killer rabbits too when I read that part about the golden “fluffy squirrels”
    . LOL

  3. IT’S SO FLUFFY! One of my favorite gifs ever!

    But you’re 100% right in saying that those parts do get a bit silly, the squirrels in particular. Suzanne clearly wanted to create mutts that would seem natural in that environment, but they aren’t very menacing!

    1. The deadly fluffy squirrels are yet another reason why I’d love to see clips from Haymitch’s Games in the movie. However, with no indication that Maysilee or a young Haymitch have been cast, I’m not holding my breath.

      As for unintential comic moments: I must admit that though I love Peeta, I did chuckle when, even after he’s calmed down from his lamp-destroying tantrum in D11, he couldn’t help but ask Katniss “was that REALLY the only time you kissed Gale?” Oh, Peeta. Such an interesting mixture of a noble, self-sacrificing martyr AND a jealous teenage boy. Another “I wish it was in the movie but I’m not holding my breath” moment. But as long as that elevator scene makes it in, I’ll be happy on the humor front.

      As for MJ… while Finnick’s exhibitionist moment was hilarious, I was so sickened by both Coin and Plutarch, that I really couldn’t find them funny. For some reason, I actually dislike Plutarch more than Coin. Although I will likely enjoy PSH’s portrayal of him, since he’s played guys before who are cheerful and jolly on the outside, but dark and sinister on the inside.

  4. Oh thank you for including that Monty Python bit. Run away!!!

    Definitely the fluffy squirrel part should have been caught by Collin’s editor. Really? These fluffy terrifying squirrels. What are they going to do? Nibble Haymitch’s bum?

    I love those touches of Collin’s humor and hope some of them get included in Catching Fire movie, since there was only one I can remember in THG movie (OK, I’ll take the bow). The humor is needed to help balance out the seriousness and despair of the dystopian world, IMHO.

    1. Re those killer squirrels: I think SC was envisioning them to be the woodland equivalent of a school of killer piranhas, that overrun the victim in a horde and chew them to pieces. And I can see what she was going for, a supposedly lush and picturesque arena that is actually deadly. (Maybe she was inspired by that classic Star Trek episode, “Eden”.) But even the dramatic moment of Maysilee’s death, was rather lightened by the fact that it’s candy-pink colored birds that do her in. I kept imagining birds that look like balls of cotton candy, which really aren’t very menacing.

      That being said, I agree that I missed the humor in the THG movie. And wasn’t the “I’ll take a bow” comment actually one ad-libbed by Josh Hutcherson that GR decided to leave in? Though this may sound like sour grapes, I think that’s one aspect of the franchise that Gary Ross really didn’t incorporate well, and one I hope F-Law and company do better with.

      1. I don’t think that’s sour grapes, just true. I want to see FL take advantage of humor, esp since his two main characters are so darn funny together in real life. That’s part of the chemistry Josh and Jen have. So why not take advantage of it as a director when THG trilogy is rife with humorous moments between Katniis and Peeta especially, let alone the zingers with other characters and in Katniss’ inner monologue.

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