What is Comedy?Comedy is one of the oldest forms of drama.Comedy highlights that human beings are in fact ridiculous and cannot change.Comedies, therefore, often confirm our view of the world.
Some writers and observers felt that religious dramas should contain nothing Medieval Comedy comic or amusing within them, and that sacred texts should be treated as such. Others disagreed and felt that humour could often be used very well to instruct. Malapropism: a The medieval period developed dramatic comical confusion of comedy in new ways: words Bawdy: generally• Dramas were usually Christian themed and applied to language either explored episodes from the Bible or that is coarse or lewd Pun: a play on words scenes from the lives of saints with comic Double entendre: sequences within them. an expression that has two meanings.• These were usually bawdy and contained down The first meaning may be obvious, but to earth humour. a second meaning• The language they were written in had lots of may be either ironic or rude puns and double entendres, which the audience would find amusing. It seems that by the end of the medieval period, attitudes had changed and comedy was now a legitimate and important genre of writing.
Shakespearean Comedy• The main kind of comedies Shakespeare wrote are often labelled romantic comedies.• These plays are quite light-hearted, but do have some darker and more disturbing elements to them.• Like the model set in previous centuries, Shakespeare realised that the best kind of comedy is generated by a series of mix-ups where disorder is rife and life is turned upside down.• All of his comedies look at the foolishness of human beings.• They often have interlinked plots
Shakespeare’s Comedies Northrop Frye states that Shakespeare’s comedies are:• Set in the rural world, meaning that urban and business concerns can be forgotten.• Time is also forgotten. There are no clocks.• The older, restrictive generation can be dispensed with.• There is often gender confusion.• The mythical and real merge.• It is a temporary holiday atmosphere.• There is no social hierarchy.• There is a ‘old world’ (belonging to older people or parental figures), a ‘green world’ (a forest, wood or non-urban environment – a world of freedom but also confusion) and a ‘new world’ (a world created out of the resolution of the play – one that has learnt from its past mistakes and resolved previous problems).
Restoration Comedy Beaus - relaxed, attractive and self- Puritanism and the Civil War had put a stop to much confident men comedy on stage in Britain in the middle of the 17th Rakes – men who Century. However dramatic comedy flourished again in the live an irresponsible final decades of the century. and immoral life Fops – men who• Dramas that looked at sexual relationships within polite are dandy like and a society little effeminate.• Marriage is a central theme They often pay a lot• Key stock characters include beaus, rakes, fobs, bawds, of attention to their scheming valets, young and older women, and country appearance and squires. clothes• They are mainly written in prose, though with some verse Valets – personal sections. servants who took• There is focus on repartee and wit. care of a gentleman’s clothes• The tone is bawdy, cynical and amoral. and lifestyle• There are often double or triple plot-lines. Squires –• Money, sexual commerce and social standing are key issues.gentlemen from the countryside
Modern Comedy Many of the plays written in the late 19th and early Absurdist comedy: 20th centuries do not appear to fully fit the dramatic drama that examines comedy genre. life outside common sense and the usual After WW2 the developed a new genre of comedy: conventions Absurdist or Black comedy. Black comedy: One of the most popular forms of dramatic comedy comedy that looks at in the 20th and 21st centuries is the genre of farce. dark or depressing In a farce you might expect to see: themes in a comic• Word play and witty banter way• A fast paced plot that increases to a frantic speed as the play continues• Physical humour or slapstick• The characters are often vain, neurotic or silly• The plays often have a twist
Contemporary Dramatic ComedyContemporary comedies is more difficult todefine than the dramatic comedy of the past.This is because contemporary plays incorporatelots of elements of other styles of drama.Contemporary comedy still uses many of thegeneric elements of the past, but reworks themin new and alternative ways. Very often, thetraditional setting for dramatic comedy arerevised, with playwrights seeking new ways ofhow comedy can be used to expose and discussthe human condition.
Comedy in LiteratureOver time the conventions from successivehistorical periods have helped define whatneeds to happen on stage, and why writersconstruct comedies in certain ways.One of the things the audience should feelwhen watching a comedy is that somehow theworld is absurd and that all of us do foolishthings. Conventions: the accepted rules, structures and customs we expect to see in a specific genre of writing