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Theater, Film, and Television


slapstick humor, types of comedy, wordplay, pretension, clowning

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Comedy, a universal form of expression and a major dramatic genre that is intended to amuse. Comedy is associated with humorous behavior, wordplay, pleasurable feeling, release of tension, and laughter. Imbued with a playful spirit, comic entertainment frequently exposes incongruous, ridiculous, or grotesque aspects of human nature. It generally follows a fixed pattern of theatrical surprises that leads to a sense of exhilaration in the spectator. Of all dramatic genres, comedy is the most widely performed.

Several types of comedy differ from traditional comedy, which must end happily. Farce, for example, seeks to deflate pretension and hypocrisy. It uses broad physical means, such as slapstick humor or clowning, and emphasizes improbable circumstances over character development. Satire, another popular form of humor, primarily utilizes stinging ridicule and exaggeration to criticize or condemn humankind's foibles and faults. While farce and satire often produce laughter, their dramatic outcomes on stage can vary considerably. Comic plays, on the other hand, typically end suddenly with all characters receiving their proper rewards and connected to their appropriate mates or partners.


Gordon, Mel, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Professor of Dramatic Arts, University of California, Berkley.

Article key phrases:

slapstick humor, types of comedy, wordplay, pretension, clowning, Farce, exaggeration, Satire, spectator, humankind, laughter, stage, Comedy, hand, example, characters, character development

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