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Community – Competitive Ecology

Although Community's narrative continues to be slightly broken by its irreverent moments, those moments remain the saving grace of the show, as showcased in this pretty damn hysterical episode.

What makes a comedy show's episode a success? For most genres, the success or failure of an episode is determined by criteria such as plot, acting and directing. But in comedy, these things don't matter nearly as much. Isn't the success of a comedy measured foremost in the amount of times it makes the audience laugh? True, the quality of humor is perhaps even more subjective than the quality of a plot, but it's hard to deny that Community continues to be very funny at most levels.

Queue a scene with Professor Kane talking about how Lego has changed since he went to prison, with a subtly sad tune building as he bemoans how complicated Lego Harry Potter is.

When did legos become so complicated? 

But what about the show's story? Community has often been hailed as the “new Scrubs”, in that its humor is often quite similar, and its dialog is equally snappy and quick. But Scrubs wasn't just about the laughs; it was about life, from the good to the bad, and it had a lot of heart to go with those laughs. Community is lacking that heart. It could definitely capitalize on adding in some more serious stories which tackle social issues in a heartfelt way, and would benefit from it. Some comedies manage to be funniest when they mix in the emotional and meaningful with the silly, and come out funnier because of it.

However, while Community's irreverent and completely unexpected moments disjoint the flow of the plot, the show remains brilliantly unique because of it, and is more consistently laugh-out-loud funny than most of the comedies I can think of. The show has a slightly “and now for something completely different” feel to it, with its Pythonesque mish-mash of weirdness mixed in with clever satire and sharp, witty dialogue. This episode was the best example of this.

"My own words rang in my head ... like a bell inside a head!" Chang was the star this week, by a million miles. While his plot might have been a little too ridiculous for some, to those people I would ask, “What the hell were you expecting? This is Community! Seriously, what show have you been watching for the past two years? Because if you're scared by a little bit of weirdness, you should go back to sitcoms.”

Why does this guy keep staring at me? 

I'm not sure what kind of person doesn't laugh at Ken Jeong spiraling into madness and paranoia, complete with talking to himself while noire-style music plays, and lines like "Let it go ... like a lobster claw letting go of a small balloon… for lobsters." Or the random, pointed exclamation of “Stapler!” right smack in the middle of a detective inner-monologue, with an insane cut away to a shot of a stapler. I was caught somewhere between “doubleya-tee-eff” and “ell-em-eff-ay-oh!” Community is, without a doubt, the most insane show on the air right now, and there was much more of this insanity. Chang's expressions were priceless as he stared off into a mirror, with his voice echoing in his head, and ... "Why does this guy keep staring at me?" Random, guys. Just random! But oh so funny.

These priceless scenes of crazy were offset by the seriousness of Greendale's head of security, whose deadpan, exasperated expression was equally genius, as was the actor's delivery of "Very much so. Yes,” in response to Chang's accusation that he'd like him to take some time off. I hope this character returns.

So let's talk about those other characters for a while. You know, those main ones.

As the episode began, the main plot was less than brilliant, but had some very funny moments, particularly those involving Todd, the random nice-guy who got constantly picked on by the entire group for just being there. The lines were so fast that I'm certain I missed more than a few jokes in there, but overall it was very amusing once the group started to get annoyed at not being picked first on each other's popularity lists. Jeff, in particular, was very funny, as the agitated frustration returned when he wasn't picked as number one most popular, and got stuck with Todd, who's only redeeming quality was, apparently, that he came with his own turtle.

Sad Todd,  

The whole episode can be summed up with a line from Todd, where he loses his temper and rants at the group for being terrible friends: "YOUR LOVE IS WEEEIRD!"

It was oddly satisfying to watch the characters discover that they were not as popular as they thought they were (particularly Jeff, who, let's face it, isn't a nice guy). But it got me thinking… who would I most like to work with on a science project, if I had to pick from the “mean clique”?

7) Jeff - Come on, the guy is a jerk. Plus, I couldn't hang out with somebody better looking than me.
6) Shirley - “Comprehensive” collection of baby snapshots? Run for the hills!
5) Pierce - Even racist and crabby is better than Jeff or Shirley!
4) Troy - I would hang out with Troy, but I'd be thinking of Abed.
3) Annie - Okay, so I admit it, I have the hots for Annie.
2) Abed - Who doesn't want to watch Kick Puncher with Abed?
1) Britta - I can't help but love Britta, she's equally funny and interesting.

What about yours? Who is your favorite character from the study group? Who would you like to hang out with?



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