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Sort order. Neil Aplin rated it really liked it Sep 28, George Roney rated it it was amazing Jul 27, Monica marked it as to-read Sep 08, After the Latin translations of the 12th century , the term "comedy" gained a more general meaning in medieval literature. In the late 20th century, many scholars preferred to use the term laughter to refer to the whole gamut of the comic, in order to avoid the use of ambiguous and problematically defined genres such as the grotesque , irony , and satire.

Starting from BCE, Aristophanes , 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 , which were often highly obscene. Around BCE, Aristotle , in his work Poetics , stated that comedy originated in phallic processions 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.

Aristotle taught that comedy was generally positive for society, since it brings forth happiness, which for 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. On the contrary, Plato taught that comedy is a destruction to the self. He believed that it produces an emotion that overrides rational self-control and learning.


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In 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. Also in Poetics , Aristotle defined comedy as one of the original four genres of literature.

The other three genres are tragedy , 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. It is widely considered to be the preeminent work in Italian literature [14] and one of the greatest works of world literature.

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It helped establish the Tuscan language , in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language. The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell , Purgatory , and Paradise or Heaven , [17] while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God. The work was originally simply titled Comedia so also in the first printed edition, published in The adjective Divina was added by Giovanni Boccaccio , and the first edition to name the poem Divina Comedia in the title was that of the Venetian humanist Lodovico Dolce , [22] published in by Gabriele Giolito de' Ferrari.

An initial canto , serving as an introduction to the poem and generally considered to be part of the first cantica , brings the total number of cantos to It is generally accepted, however, that the first two cantos serve as a unitary prologue to the entire epic, and that the opening two cantos of each cantica serve as prologues to each of the three cantiche. 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. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England in 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.

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 s. He just taught us most of it". We in Hollywood owe much to him.

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BBC Sounds - Categories - Comedy

Fields , Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers. Surreal humour also known as 'absurdist humour' , or 'surreal comedy', is a form of humour predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviours that are obviously illogical. Constructions of surreal humour tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, incongruity, non-sequiturs , irrational or absurd situations and expressions of nonsense.


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  • 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 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.

    Many of Edward Lear 's children stories and poems contain nonsense and are basically surreal in approach.

    Unmade Classics: Two Hilarious Situation Comedies

    For example, The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World is filled with contradictory statements and odd images intended to provoke amusement, such as the following:. After a time they saw some land at a distance; and when they came to it, they found it was an island made of water quite surrounded by earth.

    Besides that, it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses with a great Gulf-stream running about all over it, so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, feet high. In the early 20th century, several avant-garde movements, including the dadaists , surrealists , and futurists , began to argue for an art that was random, jarring and illogical. As a result, much of their art was intentionally amusing. A famous example is Marcel Duchamp 's Fountain , an inverted urinal signed "R.

    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.

    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. American cinema has produced a great number of globally renowned comedy artists, from Laurel and Hardy , the Three Stooges , Abbott and Costello , Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis , as well as Bob Hope during the midth century, to performers like George Carlin , Robin Williams , and Eddie Murphy at the end of the century.

    Other centres of creative comic activity have been the cinema of Hong Kong , Bollywood , and French farce. Australian satirist Barry Humphries , whose comic creations include the housewife and "gigastar" Dame Edna Everage , for his delivery of Dadaist and absurdist humour to millions, was described by biographer Anne Pender in as not only "the most significant theatrical figure of our time It layers the struggle for artistic and personal fulfillment atop a troubled family past and a stifled legacy of history and its horrors, which rise irrepressibly to the surface in dreams, memories, and theatrical fantasies.

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    I think life goes by me like a dream, and I am always hoping it will be a good dream. Recommended Stories. Sign in. Get the best of The New Yorker in your in-box every day.