AIAE is raising money for the production of an exciting documentary film called "Italian Americans and Humor." Here is a description of the project and the outline of the film.
Up to recent times, the reputation of Italian Americans has been extensively slandered through stereotypical judgments and portrayals that have made our journey into the American mainstream long and hard to achieve. Humor is one of the techniques a person or a group can use to endear themselves to the same people that might be inclined to denigrate them. Through historical accounts, interviews, and examples from radio, films, and TV shows, the film will demonstrate how Italian Americans have been able to make use of this dynamic and slowly become one of the most accepted ethnic groups in the United States.
Nothing like this project has been made before. As a matter of fact, we find that the studies of humor in general have been rather sparse. We hope that, besides achieving our above-stated goal, this film with set off more serious interest in the study of humor than we have experienced up to now.
As far as we know, humans are the only species on Earth capable of experiencing humor; and we cherish the experience. We cherish it even if we don’t know why, because the comic response is instinctual and no amount of sophisticated awareness is necessary to appreciate it. But this appreciation becomes further intensified when one understands the mechanics of humor at work. So, at the same time that we will examine Italian American humor and its contribution to the achievements of our people, we will also discuss the theory of comedy to raise the level of awareness of the viewer regarding the nature and value of humor. We believe that becoming aware of the reasons why we laugh and the function of laughter can go a long way in revealing who we are and why we operate in the ways we do.
The film will unfold through a pattern consisting of a brief presentation, followed by sound bites of interviews, and supplemented with film clips illustrating the concepts and accounts discussed. The Presenter will be a talented actor capable of instructing while at the same time entertaining with comedic antics. Together with the film, we will also develop a Companion Book, which will cover the same topics as the film but in greater detail. The film will be about 90 minutes long. Here is our Outline of the Film.
Historical facts about Italian American immigration: when; why; the hardships the immigrants encountered; and some of the approaches they have employed to cope with the experience, including their emphasis on the importance of family ties.
Theorization on the premise that Italian Americans have used humor to cope with the negative image they have had to overcome to become accepted into mainstream America.
Discussion on the theory of laughter: its meaning and purpose, the laws of the comic, and the techniques that make laughter possible.
Explanation of the reasons why we derive pleasure from laughter and how that affects behavior.
Distinction between different types of comedy.
Account of the historical origins of comedy as an art form with emphasis on the comical traditions of Italy, including the Commedia dell’Arte.
Discussion of comical movies made in Italy that have become popular in America.
A few words about the sensationalized notoriety of the gangster image of Italian Americans as opposed to statistics of their actual involvement in criminality.
Account of the important role Italian Americans in law enforcement have played in the fight against organized crime among their own kind.
The estimated cost for the production of ITALIAN AMERICAN AND HUMOR is $141,000. We will appreciate a donation to help us bring ITALIAN AMERICANS AND HUMOR to the screen.