Full course description

Course Description

This Autumn, you'll fall for... slapstick.

We invite movie lovers, comedy fans, and online learners from around the work to join us for a free, flexible online course, TCM Presents Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies. Enjoy multimedia course materials, daily emails with movie clips and conversation starters, and ongoing interactions with fellow film fans on the TCM message boards or at #SlapstickFall.

In this course, we will explore the greatest slapstick gags in movie history by showcasing 56 classic films released between 1914 and 2004. Spanning almost a century of filmmaking, we will watch, discuss, and analyze the best comedy gags ever filmed involving physical comedy, broad humor, and outrageous situations.

The course will run concurrently with Turner Classic Movies' OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick programming event, airing every Tuesday and Wednesday in September 2016.

Both the course and the associated films will enrich your understanding of comedy, Hollywood filmmaking, and popular culture. You will be able to share your thoughts online and test your movie knowledge with a worldwide community of students, fans, and film lovers.

Course Syllabus (Course Dates: 8/28/16 to 10/8/16):

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Week 1: Introduction: What is Slapstick?

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Week 2: Silent Slapstick (Focus on films from the 1910s & 1920s)

  • Featured Stars of the Week: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd
  • From the Vaudeville Stage to the Silent Screen: Slapstick Comedy in the Silent Film Era
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Week 3: Slapstick Speaks (Focus on films from the 1930s & 1940s)

  • Featured Stars of the Week: The Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, W.C. Fields
  • From the Silent Screen to Talking Pictures: The "Talkies" and the Vocal Performers of Slapstick Comedy
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Week 4: Super Slapstick (Focus on films from 1950s & 1960s)

  • Featured Stars of the Week: Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Jacques Tati
  • From Talking Pictures to Television: The New Sounds and Visions of Slapstick Comedy in the Fifties and Sixties
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Week 5: Slapstick Spoofs (Focus on films from the 1970s & beyond)

  • Featured Stars of the Week: Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Will Ferrell
  • From Television to the VCR: Parodies and Spoofs of Classic Slapstick Gags
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Week 6: Course Conclusion and Final Exam

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TUESDAYS and WEDNESDAYS in SEPTEMBER on TCM. Learn more.

Course Format

Each week will feature weekly lecture videos, content pages, quizzes, discussion forums, live tweeting events, optional readings, and the Daily Doses of Doozies. The Daily Doses are brief, five minute learning modules involving a short video clip of a slapstick gag delivered directly to your e-mail inbox Mondays through Thursdays during the length of the course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need access to TCM to participate in this course?

No. For non-TCM subscribers, we will have free links to online public domain films and/or provide access to brief film clips, so anyone can participate fully in this course.

How long is the course and TCM's Salute to Slapstick?

The online course is 6 weeks long, and the TCM on-air Slapstick festival is 4 weeks long (running every Tuesday and Wednesday of September 2016).

What kind of time commitment may I expect?

For students who seek to complete the course, it will take between two to four hours each week, and that does not include the additional time to watch extra Slapstick movies on your own or on TCM. For students who would like to audit the class or can only participate occasionally, you are encouraged to participate as much as possible, especially on social media (#SlapstickFall) and on the TCM message boards.

Can I earn a Certificate of Completion?

Yes, students who successfully complete all of the course requirements will receive a certificate of completion. If you only want to audit the course, you will not be eligible to receive the certificate, but you are still welcome to take part in the course activities.

Are there any synchronous or live events in the course?

Yes. The course will use Google Hangouts on Air to have a few live events. But in case you are not available when an event is occurring, an archived video copy will be available for later viewing.

Will the instructor be involved in the course?

Yes. This is not a self-paced course. The instructor will be involved each week of the course, and new weekly modules will be released every Sunday during the course.

Richard Edwards

Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D.

Executive Director, iLearn Research

Dr. Richard L. Edwards received his Ph.D. in Critical Studies from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He is the co-author of The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism (University Press of New England, 2011). He is the co-host of the long running podcast series, Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir. Dr. Edwards previously taught 2015's TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir. This is his second course collaboration with TCM and Canvas Network. As Executive Director of Ball State's iLearn Research, Edwards specializes in teaching and learning innovations for online and blended education. He is also a big fan of comedy in the movies.

LET'S MOVIE DESIGN STUDIO

The social media, graphic design and videography
shared in the course were created in collaboration with
the Ball State University Immersive Learning Program’s
Let’s Movie Design Studio. Learn More.

Sarah Loyd

Sarah Loyd

Role: Project Director
Major: Organizational & Prof. Communication & Development
Year in School: 2nd year Master’s Student

Anna Weddle

Anna Weddle

Role: Brand Manager
Major: Visual Communications Design
Year in School: Junior

Cassandra Grosh

Cassandra Grosh

Role: Content Specialist
Major: English, Classic Culture, and Classical Languages
Year in School: Sophomore

Nicole Lehrman

Nicole Lehrman

Role: Lead Editor
Major: Telecommunications (TCOM); French minor
Year in School: Senior

Henry Tegeler

Henry Tegeler

Role: Editor
Major: Telecommunications (TCOM)
Year in School: Sophomore

Dustin Grissom

Dustin Grissom

Role: Editor
Major: Telecommunications (TCOM)
Year in School: Sophomore

Madeline Grosh

Madeline Grosh

Role: Lead Social Media Coordinator
Major: Telecommunications (TCOM)
Year in School: Junior