Woody Allen: the philosophical clown.

No Thumbnail Available
Speck, Bobbie
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Woody Allen, one of the comic geniuses of the twentieth century, has stated that the primary purpose of his films and prose is to entertain his audience, and entertain them he does. However, comedy is a serious business. Scholars have pointed out the fine line between comedy and tragedy. Comedy helps man cope with the complexities of life; it is "the groan made gay." Allen's use of the comedy serves a serious purpose. His satires make telling observations about contemporary men and women and issues which concern them. Many of his works express the existential sense of alienation of our times.
Much has been written about Allen's films and his role as filmmaker. Less attention has been paid to Allen's prose. This dissertation focuses on Allen's three collections of short stories, essays, and one-act plays: Getting Even (1971), Without Feathers (1975), and Side Effects (1980). Allen's development as a comedian is explored, as well as the major themes he deals with in his prose. Specific selections from each collection which illustrate Allen's use of comedy for a serious purpose are then explored.
Allen's prose works, though humorous, deal with serious philosophical and sociological issues, such as the meaning of life, the existence or non-existence of God, and the possibility of an afterlife. He also deals with more mundane topics, such as man's search for happiness in his everyday life, the dehumanizing effects of technology, the pomposity of pseudo-intellectuals, and in his later works, problems associated with a dysfunctional society. Allen explores these topics through the vehicle of satire.