| by Kenneth Chase | 100 comments

Doom Eternal is the evolution of slapstick comedy


(upbeat instrumental music) – When I look at DOOM
Eternal, all I see is this. (cheerful instrumental music) Is it because my brain is broken? Yes. But it’s also because
the two newest DOOM games owe so much of their
success to the ancient art of slapstick comedy. It’s the wet, goopy glue that binds the whole experience together, and if you take it away,
everything else falls apart. See, the team it had dialed
in the combat design for DOOM pretty early on in development, is gonna be fast and relentless
like the original DOOM, but with a new level of
fidelity in the edition of glory kills, a mechanic
that stuffs enemies full of lifesaving resources to
be harvested aggressively, like a pinata full of Insulin. But as DOOM’s Director,
Hugo Martin pointed out, you can’t just sustain
that level of violence because at a certain point, it becomes hard to stomach, and that’s not the kind
of game he wanted to make. So what sort of game
did Hugo want to make? If we dive into Doom’s influences, and its influences’ influences, we can find three keys that
it used to unlock its perfect slapstick tone. The first one teaches us simply that, some kinds of violence are funny, and some kinds of violence aren’t. DOOM wouldn’t exist
without this rude puppet. The team haven’t specifically
sighted him as an inspiration, but the game’s inspirations
wouldn’t exist without him or his tiny cudgel. This is the titular slapstick, it’s a wooden board with an
extra flap that claps closed on impact, allowing performers
to do the thing that makes slapstick comedy work, and that is loud, exaggerated violence, without real human suffering. This technique takes advantage
of the ancient human truth, that when somebody gets
donked in the head, or smashed in the balls, it is quite often, funny. But why is it funny? What evolutionary trait
prompts us to take pleasure in the pain and humiliation of others? We’re not going to find out today. I don’t know, it’s just funny, and when your actors are
tiny, wooden puppets, that don’t grimace or bleed, or bruise, the volume of violence can be turned up and they turned it up. And when you look at
the way DOOM turned out, you might think that their approach to blood and guts, and
violence was anything goes, but the truth is that they
were really picky about what did and didn’t make the cut. Hugo said that a really
important role he played, was protector of the tone, so he had a video reel made
up that showed examples of what kind of stuff felt right
for DOOM, and what didn’t. Anything that felt overly
sadistic, disturbing, or realistic, was out. Anything that was fast, a little bit shocking, and silly, could stay, which pushes us into the territory of slapstick comedy violence. But that move alone wasn’t enough, because even silly
violence would get boring, if there wasn’t something
there to spice it up. The slapstick of Punch and Judy, would continue to evolve into new medias, like vaudeville theater, where the art of pretending to hurt and get hurt was a real moneymaker. From this scene we got The Three Stooges, which was doomed for Boomers. They were a bunch of dumb asses, who were a menace to themselves
and everyone around them, but they really excelled
at adapting the stick to different environments and situations. This is cool because it
gave their bits a sense of inventiveness and improvisation. Like, they were looking at a problem and finding the dumbest possible solution that would yield the funniest
punishment for their bodies. (loud clanking) – Thanks fellas! – Slapstick is funniest
when it fits the context of the situation, and when the punishment is tailor made for the person on the receiving end. If a guy has a huge cast on his foot, it’s funny to see it get bonked. If a guy’s a neat freak, it’s funny to see him get dirty. If someone has a beloved rack of collector’s edition thimbles, it’s funny to see it get knocked over. (loud crashing and laughing) DOOM and especially DOOM Eternal, take this to heart. Every monster you face in the game, is a perfect slapstick partner. Their unique characters and shape, provides the context for the
brutal and silly violence. Cacodemons are big,
cyclopic, grinning balloons, so naturally you hit them
with the old Odysseus and then deflate them. Mancubi are lumbering,
dopey, hungry beasts, so you feed them something
that doesn’t sit well. Arachnotrons are snotty
little keyboard warriors, who hide behind their superior technology. So naturally, you dispose
of them with a classic stop hitting yourself, or by crushing them under the weight of
their own machinations. That’s what you get for posting. Just about every glory
kill in DOOM Eternal, is a gag that takes into
account the appearance, or character of the opponent
to enhance the impact. That’s some good, nasty slapstick. But there’s still a big gap
between the dry slaps of Punch and Judy, in the
wet gushing gore of DOOM, and that’s where our third key comes in. Hugo describes DOOM Eternal
as a sort of spiritual sequel, to Sam Raimi’s 1987 cult hit, Evil Dead 2, but he’s not talking about
the first Evil Dead . The first Evil Dead was a
zero budget demonic horror that did a lot with humble resources, and had a whole bunch of really
innovative, shocking gore. But a lot of its silliness is
a result of its limited means, rather than deliberate comedic intent. But Evil Dead 2 would pave the
way for DOOM’s hybridization of comedy and horror. It was influential for
blending Hollywood gore effects and throwback slapstick comedy. See, Sam Raimi was a huge,
huge fan of The Three Stooges. In fact, most of his films
before the first Evil Dead, were just Three Stooges fan films. When he had the budget
and the freedom to rebuild Evil Dead from the ground up, he didn’t spare the slapstick. I’m talking chairs breaking, and eyeball shooting into mouths, and a guy fighting his own hand. Raimi used context and
character to shepard the violence along the path, that was definitely shocking and gross, but usually cartoony
enough to be palatable. If showing something
would be too realistic or painful to watch, they wouldn’t show it. We don’t see the chainsaw
ripping into Ash’s flesh, but we revel in seeing him
plunge it into the eye of a big, rubbery demon face. Hugo actually showed this
exact scene to his team to exemplify the tone that
he wanted for the game. (loud pixel projection) Like the Deadites and The Three Stooges, DOOM’s demons have a ton of personality and a dark intelligence. They’re not the mindless
sort of human hoards of enemies you get in a lot of
horror games, they’re assholes. They taunt and tease and
they delight in causing pain, it makes their eventual
embarrassment and destruction a little more satisfying, a little less nihilistic. They only feel as much pain as is funny. You get the visual fun of somebody getting their head cut off, without the emotional
baggage of somebody getting their head cut off. When Ash decapitates Henrietta, she keeps cursing him to her last breath. I do not feel bad about this. – Swallow this. (loud screaming) – DOOM’s use of slapstick
keeps the game palatable, while some other violent
games might start to feel like a numbing slog. There’s a moment in most
prestige Triple A games, where the humorless, deadly
serious, extreme violence, just becomes a little much. The moment that makes me make this face. In Red Dead Redemption 2, I accidentally triggered
an execution animation that blasted the top
half of a man’s head off, leaving him crumpled on the ground with a hideously detailed, spurting wound and the slowly spreading pool of blood, while nobody, not even our supposedly
sensitive protagonist reacted in the sligthest. Imagine that one scene in
Pulp Fiction where the gun accidentally goes off
and paints the inside of the car with blood, but instead of spending the
rest of the movie trying to resolve that crisis, John Trivolta and Sam
Jackson just turn around and keep talking about cheeseburgers. It’s like that. This moment in Red Dead
Redemption 2 wasn’t meant to be funny or frightening, or satisfying, it was just procedural violence, not serving anything other
than the game’s obsession with realism, but in Evil Dead 2 and Doom, the blood and guts are
derived from the needs of the specific gag, rather than some fetishistic
anatomical accuracy. Eyeballs make a literal
cork popping sound, as they’re plucked from
a Cacodemon’s face. Revenants are full of blood
even though they’re made of bones; Arachnatrons are
big sentient brains, but when they take damage, they got rib cages. DOOM, with all of its
constant action blood, guts, and violence, still manages
to feel less shocking and tonally wrong than a
lot of big Triple A games, and it does it by firmly
rooting itself in a tradition of nonsensical violence, by making sure that everything
that makes the gasp, can also make them laugh. Like the slapstick itself, DOOM is designed to make a lot
of noise and get a reaction, without causing anyone real pain. (upbeat guitar music)

100 Comments

illitero

Mar 3, 2020, 1:12 am Reply

"The Three Stooges is Doom for boomers"

oK miLLenNiaL

Seriously, though. The Stooges were before boomers. As detailed as Polygon is, this is an oversight that's simultaneously "not a big deal lol" and "oh c'mon y'all"

Kuddly Kraken

Mar 3, 2020, 1:15 am Reply

>talks about the slapstick of DOOM eternal
>doesn't show the glory kill where you bash a pessessed demon's head into its ribcage
???

Shlargo Yeetington

Mar 3, 2020, 1:18 am Reply

silence, brand

Sam Hernandez

Mar 3, 2020, 1:19 am Reply

I just, can't. Slapstick humor annoys the hell out of me.

Benjiman Schoenbeck

Mar 3, 2020, 1:19 am Reply

I thought it was a great video, but I don't think the bit on rdr2 was valid, Rockstar made sure every bit of the game made u feel a certain way and the gore is definitely an extension of that, and Arthur's apathy towards it is to let you draw your own conclusions, in rdr2 the blood is more to make u feel like every time you kill someone you've ended a life

John Adams

Mar 3, 2020, 1:19 am Reply

Best example of slapstick in Doom? bonk

CoolioSchoolio

Mar 3, 2020, 1:20 am Reply

Great video, but I think the red dead analogy Is a little bit off. The aforementioned main character is an outlaw, and has probably seen lots of blood a gore. Not only that, but the 1800’s was a extremely violent time. I just think you took the kill a bit too personally.

Jared Corbett

Mar 3, 2020, 1:23 am Reply

Another surprisingly, genuinely interesting video.

Despite my love of many violent video games, I'm VERY squeamish, to the point I'll often avoid movies, TV shows, and yes, even video games if they seem too "graphic". For some reason, neither Doom nor the Mortal Kombat games seem to phase me (well, Joker in MK11 has some pretty messed up moves).

Honestly really interesting to see a break-down in designing this stuff, and understanding why Doom can seem "fun" while a game like Until Dawn (which is sooooo good) can seem genuinely disturbing at times.

Joseph Gorndt

Mar 3, 2020, 1:26 am Reply

It's sad that a Youtube video understands Evil Dead better than the Hollywood remake.

Noneofyour Buisness

Mar 3, 2020, 1:26 am Reply

The animations in Doom are a little too quick and snappey for me.

Cat

Mar 3, 2020, 1:38 am Reply

I wasn’t expecting this hot take but I love it

Just Making It

Mar 3, 2020, 1:49 am Reply

Playing animal crossing while watching this lol

Paledomain

Mar 3, 2020, 2:00 am Reply

Whereas Brian's videos are hectic, Pat's videos are straight up bizarre, and…. otherworldly…

Nick Balton

Mar 3, 2020, 2:03 am Reply

I remember thinking that bioshock infinite had really out of place hyper violence. Nothing about the rest of that game indicates that it'll be the kind of affair where people's heads fucking explode if they die while being electrocuted

legueu

Mar 3, 2020, 2:22 am Reply

Pat you're a maniac. Art maniac

Jai The Guy

Mar 3, 2020, 2:39 am Reply

Yes your brain is indeed broken

osifracrat

Mar 3, 2020, 2:51 am Reply

I think Empathy is the reason slapstick works. Pain, especially accidental or unintentional is a universal experience. Slapstick allows us to laugh at pain and develop good humour which then helps us when humour is the only available coping tool.

Anthony Zrillo

Mar 3, 2020, 2:52 am Reply

Soy milk.

Avery Garon

Mar 3, 2020, 2:54 am Reply

Literally the only clip on this video that doesn't feels like it was made for a violence fetishist was the Red Dead Redemption one

Chris LeeWoo

Mar 3, 2020, 2:57 am Reply

Demons are supposed to be the scariest things imaginable, and Doom Guy turns them into pathetic chumps. Its empowering, hilarious, and a real postmodern outlook.

Smelly Mala

Mar 3, 2020, 2:57 am Reply

1:01 🤣

Deadsnake989

Mar 3, 2020, 2:59 am Reply

"Slapstick comedy is the wet and goopy glue that binds the whole thing together."
Actually I think that's imp and pinky viscera.

Jared DeMarzo

Mar 3, 2020, 3:15 am Reply

"Doomguy has too much toxic masculinity. He needs to be replaced by a gay trans woman of color. 3/10" – Polygon, probably

behbeh man

Mar 3, 2020, 3:16 am Reply

The sweep the leg glory kills get me every time. The way the demons’ faces just fucking fly into your fist kills me!

Mason Weems

Mar 3, 2020, 3:30 am Reply

I think the entire team of Polygon should go back to school. Specifically, 3rd grade.

Harold Bernard

Mar 3, 2020, 3:36 am Reply

Ooo. Lol.

Jordan Bourgeois

Mar 3, 2020, 3:41 am Reply

What you said? Oh Doomslayer's comin for you

MeanDanGreen

Mar 3, 2020, 3:58 am Reply

This guy is like flat, diet store-brand BDG. I am bored 2:30 into this video…

KeK StrayHALO_MAN

Mar 3, 2020, 4:01 am Reply

AH so this is why you Polygon guys cant play Doom to save your life!

Ted Alan Hernández Ramirez

Mar 3, 2020, 4:06 am Reply

Now, this is a good videogame analogy 😀 and video btw

Cole Rich

Mar 3, 2020, 4:13 am Reply

I love the pizza time arrangement in the background

Brett Richardson

Mar 3, 2020, 4:15 am Reply

I clicked hoping this was a Brian video, I stayed though so that's that

Uncle Flansy

Mar 3, 2020, 4:22 am Reply

Hey, thanks for reminding me that Mr. Show is still the best sketch comedy ever. And yes, I'm including Monty Python in that. Fight me.

Eli Brainless

Mar 3, 2020, 4:43 am Reply

lol this dude is really getting upset over last of us just because its realistic lmao ooo god forbid we have any of that even tho its integral to the tone and story. This was a good video until it started preaching about how "how realistic violence in media is scawey"

duncanblue124

Mar 3, 2020, 4:44 am Reply

I'm so glad we get to talk about slapstick humor my 2nd favorite form of comedy 1st is dry humor. So glad that we can bring up slapstick humor to the masses

soulja

Mar 3, 2020, 5:18 am Reply

slap slap slap clap clap clap

Seth Marcell

Mar 3, 2020, 5:28 am Reply

Very well done article. Thanks

Jason Blalock

Mar 3, 2020, 5:29 am Reply

3:00 The Three Stooges were Doom… for BOOMERS?!? Come on. We are not doing this thing where we collapse all the generations into "Boomer" or "Millennial." The Three Stooges were popular in the 30s-40s. You know, the Greatest Generation, and the early Silents. The Boomers weren't even born yet.

(Although calling the Stooges "Doom for The Greatest Generation" wouldn't work because they had World War II.)

Gnome de Plume

Mar 3, 2020, 5:45 am Reply

The injury scenes in the new Tomb Raider games would have been helped a great deal by the addition of a slide whistle

Reyvyn Nightveil

Mar 3, 2020, 5:56 am Reply

well, it's called "splat-stick" when it pertains to horror and gore, but I forgive ya 😉

Terrell Littleton

Mar 3, 2020, 6:00 am Reply

If only your reviewers could actually play the game…

what

Mar 3, 2020, 6:08 am Reply

i appreciate the warning in the beginning.

L Takara

Mar 3, 2020, 7:31 am Reply

I love this so much. I'm too sleep deprived to articulate exactly the reasons but the fact that it acknowledged the "fetishistic obsession with realism" that causes many AAA video games to include violence that I, a lifelong gamer, do NOT want to see, is a big part of it

Bill Cipher

Mar 3, 2020, 7:40 am Reply

Right now you are down and out, and feelin' really crappy. And when I see how sad you are, it sorta makes me……… HAPPY! *Happy??!*

Red

Mar 3, 2020, 7:51 am Reply

Personally i would enjoy more games with overly realistic violence that gets hard to stomach. It helps a lot with immersion in single player games

Oli Kidsley

Mar 3, 2020, 7:58 am Reply

I think a lot of this could also apply to those MK11 fatalities. I remember there was a lot of back and forth on if those were too much or not, but they are totally slapstick.

Augustus Wohlschlegel

Mar 3, 2020, 8:27 am Reply

Doom is just gory slapstick

Shini

Mar 3, 2020, 8:48 am Reply

This reminds me… I gotta buy the new doom. That 2016 remake was great

Duaij Al-Qallaf

Mar 3, 2020, 8:52 am Reply

I love this video

Iced Tea

Mar 3, 2020, 9:02 am Reply

That was really quite good.

ZodiacCloud

Mar 3, 2020, 10:00 am Reply

thank you for explaining the exact reason why i can stomach doom but not straight up gore!!! I'll just show this to people nOw AHA

ujustgotpwned2008

Mar 3, 2020, 11:03 am Reply

I can't hear "Polygon" and "Doom" together any more without thinking of… that video.

BrDaCoZ

Mar 3, 2020, 11:16 am Reply

Yeah the last of us part is so true, I've never liked it because it's too dour and takes itself too seriously, sequel footage included. It needs to get over itself.

Kyle Osborne

Mar 3, 2020, 11:23 am Reply

Oh a wise guy eh?

Ben Collins

Mar 3, 2020, 11:28 am Reply

This video made me understand why I don’t particularly enjoy watching a lot of fatalities in the newer Mortal Kombat games. For me they were funny when they were ridiculous and over the top, but became very much less so when they started becoming anatomically correct and were able to show a real person suffering through it all.

Elise Collins

Mar 3, 2020, 1:05 pm Reply

I truly believed I didn't find slapstick comedy funny until pat got hit by the stick at the end and I laughed

gta5thglife

Mar 3, 2020, 4:39 pm Reply

They got the idea of Glory kills from the comics

Galactic Pig

Mar 3, 2020, 4:43 pm Reply

Is ridley a dragon or a space pterradactyl

jgr

Mar 3, 2020, 5:28 pm Reply

About 25% of this video was close ups of this guys face.

FrankDaTank1218

Mar 3, 2020, 5:31 pm Reply

The ultimate evolution of comedy would be to watch the gameplay of your fellow Polygon employee's try to play this game. Great vid by the way.

Daniel Gould

Mar 3, 2020, 6:12 pm Reply

The ending would've been better if you'd made an actual slapstick xD

Amy Dentata

Mar 3, 2020, 6:51 pm Reply

I don’t like gore in general and I was very puzzled as to why I’m still cool with Doom (and, to a lesser extent, Evil Dead). Now I know why!

胖子姐姐

Mar 3, 2020, 7:22 pm Reply

Violent but make it funny

colin hedberg

Mar 3, 2020, 7:26 pm Reply

so was anyone else worried about a polygon doom video but ended up being pleasantly surprised

Beggo

Mar 3, 2020, 7:32 pm Reply

again, polygon does not know how to have fun

Fingolfin117 Baäl

Mar 3, 2020, 7:48 pm Reply

Fuxking hell, just rip and tear, Demon Hunter.
At least you are great at self-reflection. Hahahahaha

Shmelizabeth H

Mar 3, 2020, 8:02 pm Reply

This video actually makes me want to buy Doom

Baku

Mar 3, 2020, 8:10 pm Reply

I appreciate the digs at AAA games in the latter half of the video. Realism for its own sake is overrated.

Autumn Rose

Mar 3, 2020, 9:41 pm Reply

Damn this is well shot

Autumn Rose

Mar 3, 2020, 9:43 pm Reply

I think this is why the new mortal kombat aesthetic doesn’t work, they grimace. They yell.

animanya

Mar 3, 2020, 11:46 pm Reply

You know how good comedy is if it made you (me) laugh even in short bits shown in this video

Sonny Dewfall

Mar 3, 2020, 12:40 am Reply

Thanks Brian, really nice.

Kari D

Mar 3, 2020, 12:57 am Reply

How does Pat keep finding comparisons that seem bizarre but are actually really insightful and interesing?

Who cares?

Mar 3, 2020, 1:23 am Reply

Why are there three of these in the explanation playlist

blep

Mar 3, 2020, 1:53 am Reply

nice

r-j-m _lab

Mar 3, 2020, 2:16 am Reply

4:24 why have i not seen this one yet

Wise Ferret

Mar 3, 2020, 3:12 am Reply

Plato and Aristotle believed humor was malicious. The term is Schaudenfreude. Finding humor in the misfortunes of others because we see ourselves as superiors; never to find ourselves in those situations.
Also, the Three Stooges didn't play around. They did their own stunts with real props. They broke bones, shed blood, went to the hospital and almost died, just to entertain us. True legends who deserve all the praise in the world.

Verny Vitus

Mar 3, 2020, 3:21 am Reply

RIP (rest in pat)

Dax Jackson

Mar 3, 2020, 5:11 am Reply

good job

Paige 404

Mar 3, 2020, 5:37 am Reply

Thank you, Polygon. This video makes sense to me, and I–BONK

seven

Mar 3, 2020, 7:53 am Reply

when will pat marry me

Kurt Baldur

Mar 3, 2020, 8:05 am Reply

Polygon can't understand doom eternal.

Joli

Mar 3, 2020, 3:19 pm Reply

YouTube failed to notify me of this video and I am quite displeased 😤 better late than never, I suppose 😭

dead_freak youtube

Mar 3, 2020, 7:49 pm Reply

4:23 that's what i say to demons in my head.

stop hitting yourself.

stop stabbing yourself.

stop shooting yourself.

stop killing yourself.

Johnny Johnson

Mar 3, 2020, 9:14 pm Reply

Polygon keeps raising the bar for "Most Perfect Video", and I love it.

Duncan McNelis

Mar 3, 2020, 9:24 pm Reply

Wait, im sorry is that an orchestral version of the PIZZA DELIVERY THEME FROM SPIDER-MAN 2 YOU SICK BOZOS I LOVE IT

August Wogsland

Mar 3, 2020, 11:19 pm Reply

Lololol

Fermín Llosa

Mar 3, 2020, 11:37 pm Reply

Funny how I get NRA propaganda the second I watch a video on violence

Shoccoe the cool guy

Mar 3, 2020, 12:21 am Reply

Disappointed he didn’t blast metal the whole video.

Cosmic Drive

Mar 3, 2020, 4:59 am Reply

This video ruined doom (2020) for me

TheGets0me

Mar 3, 2020, 6:18 am Reply

Can wait for you to make another gameplay video for doom eternal(for comedic purposes) and please dont turn off the comments on that video allow another People to express themselves even when is about being a very bad example on how to play doom

Eduardo Díaz

Mar 3, 2020, 2:34 pm Reply

Seeing an eye torn out —> horrifying
Seeing an eye torn out with a loud "plop" —> hilarious

Lena

Mar 3, 2020, 7:13 pm Reply

I, too, am a (diabetic) pinata full of insulin

Serious Face

Mar 3, 2020, 10:11 pm Reply

Did you all finally learn how play Doom?

Eric Williams

Mar 3, 2020, 11:54 pm Reply

Polygon can't doom, but this guy can. Good vid

Giles S

Mar 3, 2020, 6:23 am Reply

Dang, I guessed this would be Jenna, but Pat makes sense

Me Hongo

Mar 3, 2020, 10:54 am Reply

Love the pizza time remix

Titus Wolfe

Mar 3, 2020, 12:07 pm Reply

Even more so if Dean's the one playing it.

Dark Star

Mar 3, 2020, 1:12 pm Reply

That which is funny is often what you spend your energy trying to avoid in real life.
White collar types often like parody/absurdist humor. They spend all day trying to keep everything straight and not be wrong. It’s a release to be ridiculous and stupid.
Blue collar often like slapstick. They spend all day being careful to avoid physical injury. It’s a release to watch it happen in a safe way.

This is just one principle of humor, there are others. Satire seems to operate on a different principle. Revealing hidden truths is satisfying because it’s validating what you’ve always understood on some level but maybe didn’t grok to fully. Not sure why that makes us laugh though. “it’s funny because it’s true!”

A simple joke with a clever punchline seems to operate on yet another principle.
Sometimes things are funny because they are a total surprise and force you to think in a way you wouldn’t normally.

Polished Jade

Mar 3, 2020, 2:05 pm Reply

I would die for Patrick Gil

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