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INTRODUCTION TO COMEDY
Byron (poet) 
All tragedies are finish’d by a 
death, all comedies are 
ended by a marriage. 
1788-1824
Charlie Chaplin (comedian) 
Life is a tragedy when seen 
in close-up but a comedy in 
long-shot. 
1889-1977
Eric Idle (comedian and Actor) 
Life doesn’t make any sense and 
we all pretend it does. Comedy’s 
job is to point out that it doesn’t 
make sense, and that it doesn’t 
make much difference anyway. 
Born 1943
Peter Ustinov (Actor) 
Comedy is simply a funny way of 
being serious. 
1921-2004
Moliere (Playwright/Actor) 
The duty of comedy is to 
correct men by amusing them. 
1622-1673
Bombeck (Humourist/comedian) 
There is a thin line that separates laughter 
from pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and 
hurt. 
1927-1956
Phillip Sidney (poet) 
Comedy is an imitation of the common 
errors of our life. 
1554-1586
Comedy is: 
1. Something that makes you 
laugh. 
2. A separate dramatic genre.
Comedy Through Time 
Comedy, is argued, to have originated from 
Ancient Greece. 
The Greeks celebrated the feast of 
Dionysus. Actors would dress up and 
parade, pretending to be drunk thus 
creating slapstick comedy. 
Put your timelines in order. Can you 
identify modern day examples that match the 
descriptions?
Timeline 
1. Earliest Origins: A key element is slapstick comedy. 
Laurel and Hardy or Just for Laughs/You’ve been 
framed. 
2. Satyr Plays: The satyrs interferes with the normal story 
for comic effect. Miranda/Mrs Brown’s boys. 
3. Old Comedy: Political Satire which made fun of the 
politicians. The politicians could be identified. Have I 
got news for you? 
4. Middle Comedy: Continued with satire. It became less 
obvious who the characters were imitating from real 
life. 
5. New Comedy: Conflict between generations e.g. My 
Family and Harry Enfield.
Timeline 
6. Roman Comedy: Use of stock characters e.g. The 
Big Bang Theory. 
7. Shakespearean Comedy: develops key elements 
such as disguise, conflict, resolution and 
reconciliation e.g. Some Mothers do Have ‘em and 
Ten things I hate about you. 
8. Jonsonian Comedy: showed the interaction of 
people of different classes and were often critical 
of politics e.g. Two Broke Girls. 
9. Restoration Comedy: cross-dressing and bawdy 
comedy e.g. Catherine Tate.
Timeline 
11.Eighteenth-century Comedy: comedy of 
manners, pokes fun at recognisable characters 
but not very political. 
12.Nineteenth-century comedy: The comedy of 
manners continues to be developed but 
becomes mainly focused on the upper classes 
e.g. Keeping Up Appearances. 
13.Twentieth-century comedy: Influenced by the 
rise of films. Social comedy and satires are 
developed e.g. Have I got news for you? ‘Come 
fly with me’. Benidorm.

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Introduction to comedy

  • 2. Byron (poet) All tragedies are finish’d by a death, all comedies are ended by a marriage. 1788-1824
  • 3. Charlie Chaplin (comedian) Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up but a comedy in long-shot. 1889-1977
  • 4. Eric Idle (comedian and Actor) Life doesn’t make any sense and we all pretend it does. Comedy’s job is to point out that it doesn’t make sense, and that it doesn’t make much difference anyway. Born 1943
  • 5. Peter Ustinov (Actor) Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. 1921-2004
  • 6. Moliere (Playwright/Actor) The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them. 1622-1673
  • 7. Bombeck (Humourist/comedian) There is a thin line that separates laughter from pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt. 1927-1956
  • 8. Phillip Sidney (poet) Comedy is an imitation of the common errors of our life. 1554-1586
  • 9. Comedy is: 1. Something that makes you laugh. 2. A separate dramatic genre.
  • 10. Comedy Through Time Comedy, is argued, to have originated from Ancient Greece. The Greeks celebrated the feast of Dionysus. Actors would dress up and parade, pretending to be drunk thus creating slapstick comedy. Put your timelines in order. Can you identify modern day examples that match the descriptions?
  • 11. Timeline 1. Earliest Origins: A key element is slapstick comedy. Laurel and Hardy or Just for Laughs/You’ve been framed. 2. Satyr Plays: The satyrs interferes with the normal story for comic effect. Miranda/Mrs Brown’s boys. 3. Old Comedy: Political Satire which made fun of the politicians. The politicians could be identified. Have I got news for you? 4. Middle Comedy: Continued with satire. It became less obvious who the characters were imitating from real life. 5. New Comedy: Conflict between generations e.g. My Family and Harry Enfield.
  • 12. Timeline 6. Roman Comedy: Use of stock characters e.g. The Big Bang Theory. 7. Shakespearean Comedy: develops key elements such as disguise, conflict, resolution and reconciliation e.g. Some Mothers do Have ‘em and Ten things I hate about you. 8. Jonsonian Comedy: showed the interaction of people of different classes and were often critical of politics e.g. Two Broke Girls. 9. Restoration Comedy: cross-dressing and bawdy comedy e.g. Catherine Tate.
  • 13. Timeline 11.Eighteenth-century Comedy: comedy of manners, pokes fun at recognisable characters but not very political. 12.Nineteenth-century comedy: The comedy of manners continues to be developed but becomes mainly focused on the upper classes e.g. Keeping Up Appearances. 13.Twentieth-century comedy: Influenced by the rise of films. Social comedy and satires are developed e.g. Have I got news for you? ‘Come fly with me’. Benidorm.