The comedy of Jacques Tati and of his character Monsieur Hulot is so laden with humor that laughter is often rendered difficult to muster. This seems contradictory: isn’t there a one to one correspondence between funny things and laughter? Common sense would suggest that the answer is yes, and yet the screening of Tati’s Playtime early in the quarter proved this to be not necessarily true. Tati stuffs a remarkable amount of humorous material into each shot of the film, but not all of it provokes immediate laughter. The goal of this blog post is a close examination of another Tati film, Mon Oncle, with an eye towards his construction of comedic moments. This post will take Monsieur Hulot as its central figure in an examination of his interactions with the spaces through which he travels.
Monsieur Hulot’s home in the old city is characterized by an improvisational nature; the style of comedy associated with this location follows suit. This improvisational nature is evident from Tati’s introductory long shots of the building, even before Hulot has appeared and begun to interact with it.