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Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be
humor Humour (Commonwealth English) or humor (American English; see spelling differences) is the tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that t ...
ous or amusing by inducing
laughter Laughter is a physical reaction in humans consisting usually of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from ...
, especially in
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performer ...
,
film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These image ...

film
,
stand-up comedy Stand-up comedy is a comedy performance and narrative craft whereby a comedian communicates to a live audience, speaking directly to them through a microphone. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, comedian, comedienne, stan ...
,
television Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in color, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a televisi ...

television
,
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitte ...
,
books A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrange ...
, or any other entertainment medium. The term originated in
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity ( AD 600). This era was immediately followed by the Early Middle ...
: in
Athenian democracy The relief representation depicts the personified Demos being crowned by Democracy. About 336 BC. Ancient Agora Museum. Athenian democracy developed around the 6th century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the ci ...
, the
public opinion Public opinion is the collective opinion of the people of a society on a specific topic or voting intention. Democracy requires public opinion because it derives authority from the public. Etymology The term public opinion was derived from the ...
of voters was influenced by
political satire Political satire is satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such a ...
performed by
comic poets Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods: Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and N ...
in
theaters Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performer ...
. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance pitting two groups, ages, genders, or societies against each other in an amusing ''
agon Agon (Classical Greek ) is an ancient Greek term for a conflict, struggle or contest. This could be a contest in athletics, in chariot or horse racing, or in music or literature at a public festival in ancient Greece. Agon is the word-forming ele ...
'' or conflict.
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century. Frye gained international fame with his first book, ''Fearful Symmetry' ...
depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions posing obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth then becomes constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to resort to ruses which engender dramatic
irony Irony (), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what on the surface appears to be the case or to be expected differs radically from what is actually the case. Irony can be categorized into differe ...

irony
, which provokes
laughter Laughter is a physical reaction in humans consisting usually of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from ...
.
Satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
and political satire use comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of their humor.
Parody A parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satiric or ironic imitation. Often its subject is ...
subverts popular genres and forms, critiquing those forms without necessarily condemning them. Other forms of comedy include
screwball comedy Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy genre that became popular during the Great Depression, originating in the early 1930s and thriving until the early 1940s. It satirized the traditional love story. Many secondary characteristics ...
, which derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters, and
black comedy Black comedy, also known as black humor, dark humor, dark comedy, morbid humor, or gallows humor, is a style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered seri ...
, which is characterized by a form of humor that includes darker aspects of human behavior or human nature. Similarly
scatological humor Toilet humour, or potty or scatological humour (compare scatology), is a type of off-colour humour dealing with defecation, urination and flatulence, and to a lesser extent vomiting and other bodily functions. It sees substantial crossover with se ...
, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating
social conventions A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention may retain the character of an "unwritten law" of custom (for ex ...
or
taboo A taboo is an implicit prohibition on something (usually against an utterance or behavior) based on a cultural sense that it is excessively repulsive or, perhaps, too sacred for ordinary people.''Encyclopædia Britannica Online''.Taboo. Encyclopæ ...
s in comic ways. A
comedy of manners In English literature, the term comedy of manners (also anti-sentimental comedy) describes a genre of realistic, satirical comedy of the Restoration period (1660–1710) that questions and comments upon the manners and social conventions of a great ...
typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper-class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members.
Romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One diction ...
is a popular genre that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love.


Etymology

The word "comedy" is derived from the
Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic period ...
κωμῳδία ''kōmōidía'', which is a compound of κῶμος ''kômos'' (revel) and ᾠδή ''ōidḗ'' (singing; ode). The adjective "comic" (Greek κωμικός ''kōmikós),'' which strictly means that which relates to comedy is, in modern usage, generally confined to the sense of "laughter-provoking".Cornford (1934) Of this, the word came into modern usage through the Latin ''comoedia'' and Italian ''commedia'' and has, over time, passed through various shades of meaning.Oxford English Dictionary The
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant di ...
and
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in ...
confined their use of the
word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with objective or practical meaning. In many languages, words also correspond to sequences of graphemes ("letters") in ...
"comedy" to descriptions of stage-plays with happy endings.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic schoo ...

Aristotle
defined comedy as an imitation of men worse than the average (where
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character. Traditionally, the intention of tragedy is to ...
was an imitation of men better than the average). However, the characters portrayed in comedies were not worse than average in every way, only insofar as they are Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistake or deformity not productive of pain or harm to others; the mask, for instance, that excites laughter is something ugly and distorted without causing pain. In the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...
, the term expanded to include narrative poems with happy endings. It is in this sense that
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante (, also ; – 1321), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', originally called (modern Italian: ''Comm ...
used the term in the title of his poem, ''
La Commedia ''La Commedia'' is an opera in five parts composed by Louis Andriessen. A retelling of Dante's ''Divine Comedy'', the multi-language libretto was constructed by Andriessen using extracts from Dante's poem as well as several other sources including ...
''. As time progressed, the word came more and more to be associated with any sort of performance intended to cause laughter. During the Middle Ages, the term "comedy" became synonymous with
satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
, and later with
humour Humour (Commonwealth English) or humor (American English; see spelling differences) is the tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that t ...
in general. Aristotle's ''Poetics'' was translated into
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...

Arabic
in the medieval Islamic world, where it was elaborated upon by Arabic writers and
Islamic philosophers Muslim philosophers both profess Islam and engage in a style of philosophy situated within the structure of the Arabic language and Islam, though not necessarily concerned with religious issues. The sayings of the companions of Muhammad contained l ...
, such as Abu Bishr, and his pupils
Al-Farabi Abu Nasr Al-Farabi (; '; known in the West as Alpharabius; c. 872 – between 14 December, 950 and 12 January, 951)PDF version was a renowned early Islamic philosopher and jurist who wrote in the fields of political philosophy, metaphysics, ethics ...

Al-Farabi
,
Avicenna Ibn Sina ( fa, ابن سینا), also known as Abu Ali Sina (), Pur Sina (), and often known in the West as Avicenna (;  – June 1037), was a Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thin ...

Avicenna
, and
Averroes Ibn Rushd ( ar, ; full name in ; 14 April 112611 December 1198), often Latinized as Averroes ( ), was a Muslim Andalusian polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psycholo ...
. They disassociated comedy from
Greek drama Ancient Greek drama was a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece from 600 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political, and religious place during this period, was its centre, where the theatre was ins ...
tic representation and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as '' hija'' (satirical poetry). They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension", and made no reference to light and cheerful events, or to the troubling beginnings and happy endings associated with classical Greek comedy. After the
Latin translations of the 12th century Latin translations of the 12th century were spurred by a major search by European scholars for new learning unavailable in western Europe at the time; their search led them to areas of southern Europe, particularly in central Spain and Sicily, whi ...
, the term "comedy" gained a more general meaning in
medieval literature Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages (that is, the one thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. AD 500 to the beginning of th ...
. In the late 20th century, many scholars preferred to use the term ''
laughter Laughter is a physical reaction in humans consisting usually of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from ...
'' to refer to the whole
gamut , displayed in the CIE 1931 chromaticity diagram format (see below). The colored triangle is the gamut available to the sRGB color space typically used in computer monitors; it does not cover the entire space. The corners of the triangle are the p ...
of the comic, in order to avoid the use of ambiguous and problematically defined genres such as the
grotesque Since at least the 18th century Italy (in French and German as well as English), grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and ...
,
irony Irony (), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what on the surface appears to be the case or to be expected differs radically from what is actually the case. Irony can be categorized into differe ...

irony
, and
satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
.


History


Western history


Dionysiac origins, Aristophanes and Aristotle

Starting from 425 BCE,
Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion ( la, Cydathenaeum), was a comic playwright or comedy-writer of ancient Athens and a poet of Old Attic Comedy. Eleven of his forty ...
, a comic playwright and satirical author of the Ancient Greek Theater, wrote 40 comedies, 11 of which survive. Aristophanes developed his type of comedy from the earlier
satyr plays 200px, ''Papposilenus'' – a representation of Silenus as an old man, a stock character in satyr plays. He is playing crotales (cymbals). The satyr play is a form of Attic theatre performance related to both comedy and tragedy. It preserves theat ...
, which were often highly
obscene An obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time.Merriam- ...
. The only surviving examples of the satyr plays are by
Euripides Euripides (; grc-gre, Εὐριπίδης ''Eurīpídēs'', ; ) was a tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom any plays have survived in full. Some ancient schola ...
, which are much later examples and not representative of the genre. In ancient Greece, comedy originated in bawdy and
ribald Ribaldry or blue comedy is humorous entertainment that ranges from bordering on indelicacy to gross indecency. Blue comedy is also referred to as "bawdiness" or being "bawdy". Sex is presented in ribald material more for the purpose of poking fun a ...
songs or recitations apropos of
phallic processionsPhallic processions, called ''phallika'' in ancient Greece, were a common feature of Dionysiac celebrations; they were processions that advanced to a cult center, and were characterized by obscenities and verbal abuse.
and fertility festivals or gatherings. Cornford, F.M. (1934
''The Origin of Attic Comedy''
pp.3-4 quotation:
Around 335 BCE,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic schoo ...

Aristotle
, in his work ''Poetics (Aristotle), Poetics'', stated that comedy originated in
phallic processionsPhallic processions, called ''phallika'' in ancient Greece, were a common feature of Dionysiac celebrations; they were processions that advanced to a cult center, and were characterized by obscenities and verbal abuse.
and the light treatment of the otherwise base and ugly. He also adds that the origins of comedy are obscure because it was not treated seriously from its inception. However, comedy had its own Muse: Thalia (muse), Thalia.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic schoo ...

Aristotle
taught that comedy was generally positive for society, since it brings forth happiness, which for
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic schoo ...

Aristotle
was the ideal state, the final goal in any activity. For Aristotle, a comedy did not need to involve sexual humor. A comedy is about the fortunate rise of a sympathetic character. Aristotle divides comedy into three categories or subgenres: farce, romantic comedy, and
satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
. On the other hand, Plato taught that comedy is a destruction to the self. He believed that it produces an emotion that overrides rational self-control and learning. In ''The Republic (Plato), The Republic'', he says that the guardians of the state should avoid laughter, "for ordinarily when one abandons himself to violent laughter, his condition provokes a violent reaction." Plato says comedy should be tightly controlled if one wants to achieve the ideal state. Also in ''Poetics'', Aristotle defined comedy as one of the original four genres of literature. The other three genres are
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character. Traditionally, the intention of tragedy is to ...
, epic poetry, and lyric poetry. Literature, in general, is defined by Aristotle as a mimesis, or imitation of life. Comedy is the third form of literature, being the most divorced from a true mimesis. Tragedy is the truest mimesis, followed by epic poetry, comedy, and lyric poetry. The genre of comedy is defined by a certain pattern according to Aristotle's definition. Comedies begin with low or base characters seeking insignificant aims and end with some accomplishment of the aims which either lightens the initial baseness or reveals the insignificance of the aims.


Commedia dell'arte and Shakespearean, Elizabethan comedy

"Comedy", in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare's other plays. The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte. The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella. The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England in 1662. Punch and Judy are performed in the spirit of outrageous comedy — often provoking shocked laughter — and are dominated by the anarchic clowning of Mr. Punch. Appearing at a significant period in British history, professor Glyn Edwards states: "[Pulcinella] went down particularly well with Restoration British audiences, fun-starved after years of Puritanism. We soon changed Punch's name, transformed him from a marionette to a hand puppet, and he became, really, a spirit of Britain — a subversive maverick who defies authority, a kind of puppet equivalent to our political cartoons."


19th to early 20th century

In early 19th century England, pantomime acquired its present form which includes slapstick comedy and featured the first mainstream clown Joseph Grimaldi, while comedy routines also featured heavily in British music hall theatre which became popular in the 1850s. British comedians who honed their skills in music hall sketches include Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Dan Leno. English music hall comedian and theatre impresario Fred Karno developed a form of sketch comedy without dialogue in the 1890s, and Chaplin and Laurel were among the comedians who worked for his company.McCabe, John. "Comedy World of Stan Laurel". p. 143. London: Robson Books, 2005, First edition 1975 Karno was a pioneer of slapstick, and in his biography, Laurel stated, "Fred Karno didn't teach Charlie [Chaplin] and me all we know about comedy. He just taught us most of it". Film producer Hal Roach stated: "Fred Karno is not only a genius, he is the man who originated slapstick comedy. We in Hollywood owe much to him." American vaudeville emerged in the 1880s and remained popular until the 1930s, and featured comedians such as W. C. Fields, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers.


20th century theatre and art

Surreal humour (also known as 'absurdist humour'), or 'surreal comedy', is a form of
humour Humour (Commonwealth English) or humor (American English; see spelling differences) is the tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that t ...
predicated on deliberate violations of Causality, causal reasoning, producing events and behaviours that are obviously illogical. Constructions of surreal humour tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, incongruity, Non sequitur (literary device), non-sequiturs, irrational or absurd situations and expressions of nonsense. The humour arises from a subversion of audience's expectations, so that amusement is founded on predictability, unpredictability, separate from a logical analysis of the situation. The humour derived gets its appeal from the ridiculousness and unlikeliness of the situation. The genre has roots in Surrealism in the arts. Surreal humour is the effect of logic, illogic and absurdity being used for humorous effect. Under such premises, people can identify precursors and early examples of surreal humour at least since the 19th century, such as Lewis Carroll's ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' and ''Through the Looking-Glass'', which both use illogic and absurdity (hookah-smoking caterpillars, croquet matches using live flamingos as mallets, etc.) for humorous effect. Many of Edward Lear's children stories and poems contain literary nonsense, nonsense and are basically surreal in approach. For example, ''The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World'' (1871) is filled with contradictory statements and odd images intended to provoke amusement, such as the following: In the early 20th century, several avant-garde movements, including the Dadaism, dadaists, Surrealism, surrealists, and Futurism (art), futurists, began to argue for an art that was random, jarring and illogical. The goals of these movements were in some sense serious, and they were committed to undermining the solemnity and self-satisfaction of the contemporary artistic wikt:establishment, establishment. As a result, much of their art was intentionally amusing. A famous example is Marcel Duchamp's ''Fountain (Duchamp), Fountain'' (1917), an inverted urinal signed "R. Mutt". This became one of the most famous and influential pieces of art in history, and one of the earliest examples of the found object movement. It is also a joke, relying on the inversion of the item's function as expressed by its title as well as its incongruous presence in an art exhibition.


20th century film, records, radio, and television

File:Jackie Chan Cannes.jpg, upJackie Chan at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival The advent of cinema in the late 19th century, and later radio and television in the 20th century broadened the access of comedians to the general public. Charlie Chaplin, through silent film, became one of the best-known faces on Earth. The silent tradition lived on well into the 20th century through mime artists like Marcel Marceau, and the physical comedy of artists like Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean. The tradition of the circus clown also continued, with such as Bozo the Clown in the United States and Oleg Popov in Russia. Radio provided new possibilities — with Britain producing the influential surreal humour of the Goon Show after the Second World War. The Goons' influence spread to the American radio and audio recording, recording troupe the Firesign Theatre. American cinema has produced a great number of globally renowned comedy artists, from Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller during the mid-20th century, to performers like George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy toward the end of the century. Hollywood attracted many international talents like the British comics Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen, Canadian comics Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, and Mike Myers, and the Australian comedy, Australian comedian Paul Hogan, famous for ''Crocodile Dundee''. Other centres of creative comic activity have been the cinema of Hong Kong, Bollywood, and French farce. American television has also been an influential force in world comedy: with American series like ''M*A*S*H (TV series), M*A*S*H'', ''Seinfeld'' and ''The Simpsons'' achieving large followings around the world. British television comedy also remains influential, with quintessential works including ''Fawlty Towers'', Monty Python, ''Dad's Army'', ''Blackadder'', and ''The Office (UK TV series), The Office''. Australian satirist Barry Humphries, whose comic creations include the housewife and "gigastar" Dame Edna Everage, for his delivery of Dadaist and Absurdism, absurdist humour to millions, was described by biographer Anne Pender in 2010 as not only "the most significant theatrical figure of our time ... [but] the most significant comedian to emerge since Charlie Chaplin".


Eastern history


Indian aesthetics and drama

By 200 BC, in ancient Sanskrit drama, Bharata Muni's ''Natya Shastra'' defined humour (''Hāsya, hāsyam'') as one of the nine ''nava rasas'', or principle ''Rasa (aesthetics), rasas'' (emotional responses), which can be inspired in the audience by ''Bhava, bhavas'', the imitations of emotions that the actors perform. Each ''rasa'' was associated with a specific ''bhavas'' portrayed on stage. In the case of humour, it was associated with mirth (''hasya'').


Studies on comic theory

The phenomena connected with
laughter Laughter is a physical reaction in humans consisting usually of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter can arise from ...
and that which provokes it have been carefully investigated by psychologists. They agree the predominant characteristics are incongruity or contrast in the object and shock or emotional seizure on the part of the subject. It has also been held that the feeling of superiority is an essential factor: thus Thomas Hobbes speaks of laughter as a "sudden glory". Modern investigators have paid much attention to the origin both of laughter and of smiling, as well as the development of the "play instinct" and its emotional expression. George Meredith said that "One excellent test of the civilization of a country ... I take to be the flourishing of the Comic idea and Comedy, and the test of true Comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." Laughter is said to be the cure for being sick. Studies show that people who laugh more often get sick less. American literary theorist Kenneth Burke writes that the "comic frame" in rhetoric is "neither wholly euphemistic, nor wholly debunking—hence it provides the charitable attitude towards people that is required for purposes of persuasion and co-operation, but at the same time maintains our shrewdness concerning the simplicities of ‘cashing in.’" The purpose of the comic frame is to satirize a given circumstance and promote change by doing so. The comic frame makes fun of situations and people, while simultaneously provoking thought. The comic frame does not aim to vilify in its analysis, but rather, rebuke the stupidity and foolery of those involved in the circumstances. For example, on ''The Daily Show'', Jon Stewart uses the "comic frame" to intervene in political arguments, often offering crude humor in sudden contrast to serious news. In a segment on President Obama's trip to China Stewart remarks on America's debt to the Chinese government while also having a weak relationship with the country. After depicting this dismal situation, Stewart shifts to speak directly to President Obama, calling upon him to "shine that turd up." For Stewart and his audience, introducing coarse language into what is otherwise a serious commentary on the state of foreign relations serves to frame the segment comically, creating a serious tone underlying the comedic agenda presented by Stewart.


Forms

Comedy may be divided into multiple genres based on the source of humor, the method of delivery, and the context in which it is delivered. The different forms of comedy often overlap, and most comedy can fit into multiple genres. Some of the subgenres of comedy are farce,
comedy of manners In English literature, the term comedy of manners (also anti-sentimental comedy) describes a genre of realistic, satirical comedy of the Restoration period (1660–1710) that questions and comments upon the manners and social conventions of a great ...
, burlesque, and
satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
. Some comedy apes certain cultural forms: for instance, parody and
satire Satire is a genre of the visual, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, with the intent of shaming individuals, ...
often imitate the conventions of the genre they are parodying or satirizing. For example, in the United States, parodies of newspapers and television news include ''The Onion'', and ''The Colbert Report''; in Australia, shows such as ''Kath & Kim,'' Utopia (Australian TV series), ''Utopia'', and ''Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell, Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell'' perform the same role. Self-deprecation is a technique of comedy used by many comedians who focus on their misfortunes and foibles in order to entertain.


Performing arts


Historical forms

* Ancient Greek comedy, as practiced by
Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme Kydathenaion ( la, Cydathenaeum), was a comic playwright or comedy-writer of ancient Athens and a poet of Old Attic Comedy. Eleven of his forty ...
and Menander * Ancient Roman comedy, as practiced by Plautus and Terence * Burlesque, from Music hall and Vaudeville to Performance art * City comedy, Citizen comedy, as practiced by Thomas Dekker (poet), Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton and Ben Jonson * Clowns such as Richard Tarlton, William Kempe, and Robert Armin * Comedy of humours, as practiced by Ben Jonson and George Chapman * Comedy of intrigue, as practiced by Niccolò Machiavelli and Lope de Vega * Comedy of manners, as practiced by Molière, William Wycherley and William Congreve * Comedy of menace, as practiced by David Campton and Harold Pinter * ''comédie larmoyante'' or 'tearful comedy', as practiced by Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée and Louis-Sébastien Mercier * ''Commedia dell'arte'', as practiced in the twentieth century by Dario Fo, Vsevolod Meyerhold, and Jacques Copeau * Farce, from Georges Feydeau to Joe Orton and Alan Ayckbourn * Jester * Laughing comedy, as practiced by Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan * Restoration comedy, as practiced by George Etherege, Aphra Behn and John Vanbrugh * Sentimental comedy, as practiced by Colley Cibber and Richard Steele * Shakespearean comedy, as practiced by William Shakespeare * Stand-up comedy * Dadaist and Surrealism, Surrealist performance, usually in cabaret form * Theatre of the Absurd, used by some critics to describe Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Jean Genet and Eugène IonescoThis list was compiled with reference to ''The Cambridge Guide to Theatre'' (1998). * Sketch comedy


Plays

* Comedy (drama), Comic theatre ** Musical theater#Development of musical comedy, Musical comedy and palace


Opera

* Comic opera


Improvisational comedy

* Improvisational theatre * Bouffon comedy * Clowns


Jokes

* One-liner joke * Blonde jokes * Shaggy dog story, Shaggy-dog story * An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman, Paddy Irishman joke * Polish jokes * Light bulb jokes


Stand-up comedy

Stand-up comedy is a mode of comic performance in which the performer addresses the audience directly, usually speaking in their own person rather than as a dramatic Character (arts), character. * Impressionist (entertainment) * Alternative comedy * Comedy club


Events and awards

* American Comedy Awards * British Comedy Awards * Canadian Comedy Awards * Cat Laughs, Cat Laughs Comedy Festival * The Comedy Festival, Aspen, Colorado, formerly the HBO Comedy Arts Festival * Edinburgh Festival Fringe * Edinburgh Comedy Festival * Halifax Comedy Festival * Just for Laughs festival, Montreal * Leicester Comedy Festival * Mark Twain Prize for American Humor * Melbourne International Comedy Festival * New Zealand International Comedy Festival * New York Underground Comedy Festival * HK International Comedy Festival


Lists of comedians

* List of comedians **List of comedians#Comedy groups * List of stand-up comedians * List of musical comedians * List of Australian comedians * List of British comedians * List of Canadian comedians * List of Filipino comedians * List of Finnish comedians * List of German language comedians * List of Indian comedians * List of Italian comedians * List of Mexican comedians * List of Puerto Rican comedians


Mass media


Literature

* Comic novel * Light poetry * Comedic journalism


Film

* Comedy film ** Anarchic comedy film ** Gross-out film ** Parody film **
Romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One diction ...
** Screwball comedy film ** Slapstick film


Audio recording

* Comedy album


Television and radio

* Television comedy ** Situation comedy * Radio comedy


Comedy networks

* British sitcom * British comedy * Comedy Central – A television channel devoted strictly to comedy * Comedy Nights with Kapil – An Indian television program * German television comedy * List of British TV shows remade for the American market * Paramount Comedy (Spain) * Comedy Central (British TV channel), Paramount Comedy Paramount Comedy 1, 1 and Paramount Comedy 2, 2. * TBS (TV network) * The Comedy Channel (Australia) * The Comedy Channel (UK) * The Comedy Channel (United States) – merged into Comedy Central. * Ha! (TV channel), HA! – merged into Comedy Central * The Comedy Network, a Canadian TV channel. * Gold (UK TV channel), Gold * Sky Comedy


See also

* Lists of comedy films * List of comedy television series * List of genres * Theories of humor * Women in comedy


Footnotes


Notations

* * * http://french.chass.utoronto.ca/as-sa/editors/origins.html * Pickard-Cambridge, Sir Arthur Wallace ** ''Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy '', 1927. ** ''The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens'', 1946. ** ''The Dramatic Festivals of Athens'', 1953. * * * * *


Further reading

*
A Vocabulary for Comedy
(definitions are taken from Harmon, William & C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 7th ed.)


External links

* {{Authority control Comedy,