top of page


Canned Laughter

average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Feb 23, 2024

Film Reviews
Canned Laughter
Directed by:
Chris Brake
Written by:
Chris Brake
Jan Ravens

What do we do when we’re no longer able to do the one thing that we love. The fallout can lead to a path of self destruction, or, it can lead to the expansion of our horizons and a whole host of new possibilities that would never otherwise have seemed feasible or interesting. It can be both enlightening or catastrophic depending on how an individual copes with it. Be it a work, or hobby, or otherwise, such a moment becomes inevitable, particularly as we grow older, and as age strips us of that ability that we used to find vital to sustain happiness. ‘Canned Laughter’ depicts that incisively, as well as the pitfalls and problems that ageing brings.


‘Canned Laughter’ follows the plight of Deidre Gossamer, played by Jan Ravens, a former comedian, struggling in her retirement to move on past her glory days on stage. Deidre toured the country, and was once a very successful comedian, however, now, consigned to her basement, she only ever performs her greatest hits to an audience of homemade creations who watch on with blank faces. There is an undeniable eeriness surrounding the whole set up, not least due to the loud, unnerving opening sound and the shuffling of tapes in the silence. This eeriness becomes downright unnerving when one of her creations, which, looking past its odd appearance could be described as cute, comes to life, and begins wreaking havoc to her prized possessions and disturbing her performance.


The creation begins smashing her posters and tapes, destroying her memories, and forcing Deidre to re-evaluate her attachment to her former glories. Many of Deidre’s jokes revolve around her grandmother, either morbid ones surrounding her death or old adages her grandmother used to impart to her. The creation’s destruction, forces Deidre to realise that now she is not too dissimilar from the woman her grandmother was, and that her advice, which she laughed at back then, is actually rather helpful, particularly for Deidre in her current state of repeating her past successes rather than creating ones anew.


Throughout her recital of one of her performances Deidre keeps losing her place and forgetting her words, causing her great annoyance. The creation’s destruction of her posters, could therefore possibly be interpreted as a reflection of old age, or even dementia’s, destruction of her memories, and the fact that she is slowly forgetting those glory days, and that her recital of those great performances is an attempt to desperately cling onto the fading memories of the past.


Writer and director Chris Brake imbues the film with a haunting sense that lingers throughout, reflecting the past, and how that haunts Deidre and prevents her from living the present. Brake’s script is fantastic throughout, full of metaphor’s, potency about age and moving on from the past, and self-reflection for those of all ages. Deidre, in many ways, serves as a cautionary tale not to rest on your laurels or become hang up on the past, but to explore pastures new.


‘Canned Laughter’ is a reflective short film, filled with regrets and lessons, all with an overcoming, and delightful eeriness that pervades throughout.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
bottom of page