Christopher Nolan is not afraid to take his audiences through wormholes and lecture them about the pitfalls of relativity, but he is afraid to tell them jokes. In an interview with USA Today, Nolan says there are several genres to which he would like to contribute a labyrinthine blockbuster, but comedy isn’t one of them. According to Nolan:
“I would try anything I think except comedy or romantic comedy. Those are very tough genres to work in. They rely on [a] unanimity of audience response. You screen a comedy for people, and if they don’t laugh, you’ve got to figure out a way to make them laugh. There’s no hiding behind the art of the film. There’s ‘Oh, you don’t get it.’”
Even though Nolan has basically answered scientific criticisms of Interstellar with, “Oh, you don’t get it,” he has a point that a filmmaker can’t rely on a challenging structure to enlighten (or obfuscate) people when making a comedy. If the jokes don’t land, people don’t like it—even if you’ve gone out of your way to explain exactly why it’s funny, and shot it all in IMAX.
Nolan hails current comedy directors like Todd Phillips, saying that “to make something that an audience has to laugh at it is incredibly underrated as a skill and a really (expletive) difficult thing to pull off. I’d be terrified about doing that.” So we can put to rest our dreams of the demure writer-director executing a fart joke—or, more likely, three fart jokes happening simultaneously across parallel universes, as Michael Caine reads aloud from the writings of Stephen Hawking. But notice that Nolan didn’t rule out making a musical, a notion that is just as titillating.