What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It

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What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It. Comedy is widely misunderstood and there is no dictionary definition. If anyone tried to define comedy they’d probably be wrong. Most of us are conditioned to think something is funny and it doesn’t require further explanation.

Comedy is based on a common-sense notion that’s so archaic that it requires a full explanation. So here’s what comedy really is, and how we define it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about comedy lately, which might seem like an odd thing. But it hasn’t always, being that I’ve only been thinking about comedy since I wrote that last sentence.

What’s so interesting to me is the idea of what makes something funny and how we as a culture define what is and what isn’t considered comedy.

Comedy is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It is a genre of film, TV shows, books, plays and even stand-up comedy. But where does comedy stem from? What exactly is it?

These are the questions that perplexed me as a film major in college. I had to explore the definition of comedy and how we as society define it.

I had to explore the different forms of comedy and how they are all different but also act as homage to each other. I wrote a paper on this subject, below is my research paper in document format for you to read through if interested.

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What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It

Defining Comedy

Comedy is a genre of film, television, and theatre. Comedy films are humorous films that aim to entertain and make the audience laugh by means of amusing situations, dialogue and characters.

They may contain a variety of elements designed to achieve these ends, such as gags, irony, and sarcasm. Many comedy films are lighthearted entertainment and contain no objectionable content.

Films in this genre have been made since the early days of silent movies. The best-known American comedy films include:

The Three Stooges (1925–59)

The Marx Brothers (1924–1951)

Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977)

The Keystone Kops (1912–1917)

Comedy is usually defined as a form of entertainment that seeks to make people laugh. However, comedy is a broad concept and includes many different types of humor.

Comedy can be found in many forms, including stand-up comedy, improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, and parody. Comedy can also be found in literature and film.

Although there is no specific definition of comedy, it often involves the use of humor to entertain an audience. This type of humor may be based on jokes, or it may not have any point at all other than to amuse the audience.

In some cases, comedy can even be used to make social or political statements that may not be intended as humorous at all.

Stand-Up Comedy

Stand-Up comedy involves an individual performing in front of a live audience for an extended period of time (usually 20 minutes or more).

The comedian makes jokes about a variety of topics while also interacting with the audience members who are watching them perform.

While stand-up comedians typically use only their voice and body language during their shows, some comedians have been known to incorporate props into their acts as well (such as magician Penn Jillette).

What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It

Identify the category of joke in comedy

There are many different categories of jokes in comedy. The most common ones, however, are puns, one-liners and parodies.

Puns are short phrases that contain two words with the same sound but different meanings. Puns can be used for humor or as a literary device to make a point.

For example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” or “I’m so hungry I could eat an apple.” The first sentence is a joke because the word “horse” has two meanings and the second sentence is not funny because there is only one meaning for the word “apple.”

One-liners are exactly what they sound like jokes that have one punchline at the end of them instead of several lines like puns do.

They tend to be more humorous than puns because they are more obvious, but they can also be used as an effective tool for getting a laugh from your audience if you say something funny at just the right time (or if it’s just plain dirty).

Parodies are similar to one-liners except that they’re usually longer and more complex than one-liners because they incorporate multiple elements from something else into their own storyline (usually from pop culture).

Comedy can be divided into types, such as satire and farce. Farce is a broad category that includes slapstick comedy. Slapstick comedy involves exaggerated physical activity, such as pratfalls, which are common in silent films.

Satire is a form of comedy that makes fun of people or society in general through exaggeration, hyperbole and sarcasm. Comedy can also be categorized by the way it is delivered.

Comedians who perform on stage are said to be comedians of stage or stand-up comedians. Stand-up comedians often make use of an opening act or emcee to introduce them to the audience before their performance begins.

They may also make use of props such as microphones and musical instruments to help them deliver their jokes with maximum impact

What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It

Recognize types of humour

Some comedians use a combination of types of humour in their comedy routines. Some comedians use only one type of humour.

The first step to writing a good joke is to understand the different types of humour and how they can be used.

There are many different types of humour, but here are some common ones:

Self-deprecating humour – This type of humour involves making fun of yourself in a light-hearted way. It can be used to make people feel sympathetic towards you, but it can also be used to make people laugh at your expense!

Sarcasm – This type of humour is often misunderstood by others, as it does not mean what it says! For example, if someone says that they are planning to go on vacation tomorrow and you say “That’s great”, it might be sarcasm because you don’t actually think it’s great at all!

However, if they ask you why you’re not going on vacation, then you would explain that you have too much work and cannot take time off right now.

Self-deprecating sarcasm – This is similar to self-deprecating humour (above), but instead of making fun of yourself or your situation; this type of sarcasm makes fun of something else: such as someone.

Comedy is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of forms, themes, and styles. It can be compared to drama both are written for the stage or screen, but comedy is more lighthearted and often deals with aspects of human nature that generally make us laugh.

Comedy can also be used as a means of addressing difficult subjects in a way that makes them easier to accept.

The following are types of humour found in comedy:


Slapstick involves exaggerated physical movements and sounds. Often slapstick involves an extended sequence where one person causes another to fall over repeatedly, such as in the Three Stooges shorts or Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketches. Slapstick is often found in silent films, though it has been used since Ancient Greece.

Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy is a genre of film that focuses on the romantic relationship between two people. This can be a friendship, but also a romance. The main characters are usually man and woman, and they are often both around the same age.

The basic plot of Romantic Comedy is that one person meets another person and falls in love with him or her. There are usually many obstacles in their way before they can be together, which means that there is conflict in the film.

Romantic Comedy films usually have happy endings, where everything works out for the couple and they end up being together at the end of the film.

A typical romantic comedy features a male protagonist with a female love interest as his central focus.

Love stories in general have been an important part of cinema from its earliest days; however, the genre has evolved over time with changing social and cultural norms.

The traditional romance film usually features an elaborate song-and-dance musical sequence to express the primary emotion (which is usually love).

In many cases, the musical sequence also serves as an entrance or exit for a secondary character or characters, who are involved in the plot but not one of its main focuses.

Why Do We Laugh?

Why do we laugh? Perhaps the best answer to that question is, because we can.

A study of laughter in preschool children found that it serves as a social lubricant, helping kids get along with other kids and adults. In fact, laughter might have evolved as an adaptation for social bonding, much like smiling or crying.

Laughter can also be used as a defense mechanism against stress or anxiety. For example, when people are afraid of something they may laugh instead of crying because it helps them cope with their emotions.

From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that we would want to be able to communicate our emotions easily with others by laughing or smiling. This means that laughter could have evolved as a way for us to show how happy we are or how tickled we feel by something funny or silly happening around us.

In other words, laughter may be a signal of happiness and joy even if you don’t feel happy or joyful at the moment you start laughing!

The Tragedy of Comedy

We live in an age in which the world is divided into two classes: those who believe that tragedy is the highest form of poetry, and those who insist that comedy is.

The latter are called optimists, and the former pessimists; but as a matter of fact both parties are absurdly mistaken in their ideas of what constitutes true poetry.

It is not possible to tell which class has the most reason to be ashamed of itself the people who cannot see any beauty or grandeur in anything that is not tragic, or those who imagine that there is nothing more noble or sublime than a farce.

The very word tragedy implies pain and suffering, but it does not necessarily imply anything else; for we have had tragedies on all sorts of subjects, from the death of heroes upon the battle-field to that of a poor old woman with cancer in her breast.

When we read such a poem as this last, it may be amusing enough; but when we hear it recited by actors on the stage it becomes ridiculous; because we see that they are acting a part without understanding its meaning. In like manner.

What Comedy Really Is And How We Define It


So to recap, the definition of comedy is slippery and hard to pin down. Comedy is a subjective term and it may not even be a single genre that can be easily defined.

To most people comedy can cover all sorts of experiences, from The Colbert Report, to a small theater troupe specializing in dark comedy.

In fact, that’s part of its charm; the complex nature of comedy allows it to have so many different interpretations, and allows us to have just as many opinions on what we find funny.

What we want to know is: what is comedy? Many argue that people are funny, things are funny, and many different things can be considered funny. In truth, funny is a subjective term, and this is the easiest way to define it.

Comedy, in short, depends on the audience (and sometimes even those who create it).

Ironic, or dark comedy for instance rely on sarcasm and mocking someone or something very differently in order to attain an ironic end product. And this type of comedy relies on misinterpretation by the audience, when someone finally gets the joke.

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