There is no relationship between romance and comedy though Holly wood begs to differ. This formula, repeatedly is regurgitated to produce massive success. People dig it. Not the first (or the last) time mass consumption bears little semblance to reality. Fantasy is yearning, but why do we want romance to be funny?
And it must be noted nobody else but the Americans ever thought to combine the two. Add romantic comedies to the endless list of inventions to come from the land of the free. Up there with the atomic bomb, it is.
Romance + Comedy = not getting laid.
Romance has always been tragic. You lose yourself, you immerse yourself in a feeling; a person, knowing full well it won't last and probably won't end well. Romeo and Juliet was the standard. Now, it's You Got Mail.
Contrary to popular belief, insecurity, chaos, risk and the mystery and uncertainty that stems from this drive people into one another's arms. Amusing safety and security make the whole pursuit of another entertaining. Try laughing in the midst of sex. You got to stop laughing to get it up.
What makes someone laugh, why is something funny? Let me see, I happen to have a neurology journal at hand and it says : "Physiologically there is an element of surprise, a perceived threat that doesn't manifest and sudden resultant relief relaxes us, and we laugh. Ha ha ha."
Comedy diffuses fear, in fact, it is the only in the absence of fear that comedy can exist. They may combine romance and even politics with comedy but it's not possible do the same with horror. That would either be funny or horrific but not both.
But romance is ripe with fear, especially in risk averse cultures such as ours, it adds an element of uncertainty that's frightening because there is no clear path to success. In a culture that likes to play by the rules and win, this is a whole new realm that must be sanitized and made safe. Wouldn't want your precious feelings hurt now, would you?
So what do you do? You make light of it, to diffuse its seriousness.
Why else do we also combine politics with humor? For the same reason. We like to laugh at our problems. It makes them bearable, and laughter, if something is funny, means other generally find it funny, as well. And collectively laughing probably is an update to the whole misery loves company. Well, maybe now, misery loves a good joke (about itself?)
No surprise that the rise of the Daily show and Colbert was during some of the most horrific public moments in recent times (9/11, Bush, 2 wars, etc)
Why to do we feel a need to make serious matters funny? What kind of strange defense mechanism is this?
In the spirit of American pragmatism: if it works, don't fix it. Somehow this formula makes people happy, though they are probably confusing happiness with comfort, amusement and entertainment. But "What is Happiness?" is an inconvenient question for a nation racing in constitutional pursuit of it.
Laugh at your sorrows, fine. But realize that the light heartedness/ lack of seriousness towards what is ultimately very serious - love, makes a fool of everyone. And it takes out the suffering, the poetry, the seriousness of facing mortality and loneliness.
Everybody laughing, everybody alone. Amusing ourselves to death.