"Emotionally, comedy will never have the same impact," former stand-up comic Allen told Reuters.
"You can take the greatest comedies, and it's never the same as the impact when a curtain comes down on 'A Streetcar Named Desire' or 'Death of a Salesman.' You're pulverized by what you've seen. Comedy is just fun and entertaining."
I see his point, but I disagree. There are great comedies that are just as emotionally pulverizing, it's just that comedy generally involves different emotions.
For example, something like "Death of a Salesman", or Kurosawa's Ran, is so "pulverizing" because it hits you with deep sadness, even existential despair. Fair enough. Sometimes you're in the mood for some existential despair.
But personally, I was just as pulverized when the curtain came down on South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. As we exited the theater, one of the other patrons in the audience said to us, "I had no idea a movie could be so funny." That is just as valid an emotional response as existential despair.
Furthermore, comedy is just as capable of inducing deep sadness and existential despair as tragedy, it just does it in different ways. Examples off the top of my head would be Dr. Strangelove and Brazil, two more comedies that left me at least equally pulverized as "Death of a Salesman".
I could probably sit here all day and list off comedies that have just as much emotional impact as any tragedy: Happiness, City Lights, The Graduate, The Hudsucker Proxy, or, to use an example closer to Woody's heart, Crimes and Misdemeanors. Outside of films, my own favorite Shakespeare play, "The Tempest", is a comedy. Terry Pratchett's books, once he evolved from purely parodying fantasy literature to more social satire, are full of poignant, emotional moments, such as Gaspode confronting Death in Moving Pictures, or the last eight words written by Dorfl in Feet of Clay. Ain't nothin' wrong with comedy.