Home Science in Art & Culture HotDocs notes – Laughology and Amerika Idol

HotDocs notes – Laughology and Amerika Idol

by Eva Amsen

I almost missed HotDocs entirely, because SciBarCamp was on May 9 and the preparations took up all my time, but I managed to catch one screening on May 10. It was a double-feature: Laughology with Amerika Idol.

I didn’t buy tickets beforehand, so I lined up in rush line. I was early enough to be the second in line. Often when I’m at the start of a rush line, I end up getting in for free, and this time I even scored two free tickets: someone gave me her 10-screening pass with one film left, which I could exchange for a ticket once they let us buy them, but just before they started letting the rush line in, the director of Laughology gave his remaining two free tickets to the first two people in line. So, thanks, Albert Nerenberg, for the ticket!

The first screening was Amerika Idol, which was about a statue of Rocky in a small village in Serbia. I was looking mainly at technical things, and noticed that they re-used (and mirrored) some footage over and over again, and had some very low quality clips of news footage in there. No complaining – it made me feel better about having no budget for the science/music project…. The film itself was about 30 minutes long, and went into some history about the original Rocky statue in Philadelphia as well. It was uplifting and cheerful, and went well with the next film:

The second screening was Laughology, which really did make everyone laugh. Especially the clips of the guy with the funniest laugh in the world. Nerenberg put himself in the film, as he went on a quest to get his laugh back. There were some silly re-enactment clips of Neanderthals laughing – a doc technique I’ve seen before, but never done in such a slapstick way. (Usually re-enactments are serious and boring) Another observation: the interviews were often in front of a plain white background. I’m not sure what the goal of this was, but it gave the impression that all these people were in the same location, when I’m pretty sure that they weren’t. (It was shot all over the world!) So it probably contributed to some “we’re all the same” feeling. It might also have had to do with editing: the shots of Nerenberg were probably added later, and by putting him in front of the white background as well, it seemed like it was shot at the same time as the other interviews.
Anyway, the film was overall hilarious: watch the trailer below:

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