Why is This Is Spinal Tap so damn funny?
Obviously the writing is brilliant and the delivered by the actors perfect, but it looks like a documentary about any band. We buy into it, subconsciously acknowledging that we agree this is what a band documentary would/should/can look like. The core audience for the movie however is not people who hunt down documentaries, it’s for people who like comedy. A broader audience. Yet it makes sense to everyone.
I find it fascinating. We discuss a lot what makes a documentary and what disqualifies a movie as one, and we have to: It’s a documentary film class, and not without the discussions that make you want to bash your head in because everything you thought you knew is wrong. But the core audience probably doesn’t do that. It would be absurd to say documentarians and documentary fans don’t watch Spinal Tap or other mockumentaries but the broad audience accepts it as if it knows what to look for in a documentary.
It would appear that we noble documentary students can interact with the commoners of the outside world if brought together under the right circumstances… Hmm…