Comedy: definitions and examples

There are several types of comedy in books, plays, and films, and understanding them can help you become a better writer và reader. In all types, the main purpose of comedy remains the same: amusing the reader or audience. These are a few of the main types of comedy.

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Comedy satire Santa robbers on street

Blaông chồng Comedy or Dark Comedy

Blachồng or dark comedies are about topics that are distressing to lớn people, such as death, illness, and other taboo topics. When people feel uncomfortable, laughing can relieve sầu the tension, and this type of comedy centers around this idea. You’ll find of dark comedy in movies like Death Becomes Her, Burn After Reading, and The Death of Stalin. You’ll also see it in plays and literature.

This example of dark comedy is from Slaughterhouse Five sầu by Kurt Vonnegut:

“How’s the patient?” asked Derby.

“Dead lớn the world.”

“But not actually dead.”


“How nice - to lớn feel nothing, và still get full credit for being alive.”

Comedy of Humors

Based on the Medieval era belief that people are ruled by various humors that control their personalities và interactions, a comedy of humors is a character-based story. In this type of comedy, the characters have sầu one or two dominant traits, such as jealousy, greed, or vanity, that rule their interactions with each other. This is not a type of comedy you see often in modern literature & films, but its influence is part of why there are so many great comedic characters.

One of the first khổng lồ write this type of comedy was Ben Jonson, as you can see in this scene exploring greed in The Alchemist:

FACE: Come,

You know it well enough, though you dissemble it.

DAP.. I"fac, I bởi not; you are mistaken.

FACE. How!

Swear by your face, and in a thing so known

Unlớn the doctor? How shall we, sir, trust you

In the other matter? can we ever think,

When you have won five or six thousvà pound,

You"ll send us shares in"t, by this rate?

DAP. By Jove sầu, sir,

I"ll win ten thousvà pound, and sover you half.

I"fac"s no oath.

SUB. No, no, he did but jest.

Comedy of Manners

A comedy of manners pokes fun at the behaviors & lives of certain classes of people, especially upper class. You see many satires that are comedies of manners. This type of comedy has been popular for centuries, sparking such hilarious as the television show Frasier, many of Oscar Wilde’s plays, the plays of Noel Coward, & The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

A famous modern example of a comedy of manners is the movie Clueless. You can see this type of comedy in the following scene:

JOSH: I"m amazed.

CHER: That I"m devoting myself so generously lớn someone else?

JOSH: No, that you"ve sầu found someone even more clueless than you are khổng lồ worship you.

CHER: I am rescuing her from teenage hell. Do you know the wounds from adolescence can take years to heal?

JOSH: Yeah, & you"ve sầu never had a mother so you"re acting out on that poor girl as if she was your Barbie doll.

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CHER: Freshman psych rears its ugly head

JOSH: Hey, I am not taking psych.

CHER: Whatever. I am going khổng lồ take that lost soul in there and make her well-dressed và popular. Her life will be better because of me. How many girls can say that about you?


Romantic Comedy

Romantic comedy centers around the theme of love sầu, and it usually has a happy ending. Two characters meet and begin a love sầu affair, but misunderstandings và other impediments get in the way. You’ll see this type of comedy in the work of Shakespeare, as well as in books and many movies like When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, You’ve sầu Got Mail, & others.

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a play that’s considered a thắm thiết comedy, as you can see in this scene:

Jack: Charming day it has been, Miss Fairfax.

Gwendolen: Pray don’t talk khổng lồ me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk khổng lồ me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me so nervous.

Jack: I vì chưng mean something else.

Gwendolen: I thought so. In fact, I am never wrong.

Jack: And I would like to lớn be allowed lớn take advantage of Lady Bracknell’s temporary absence . . .

Gwendolen: I would certainly advise you khổng lồ do so. Mamma has a way of coming baông xã suddenly into lớn a room that I have often had khổng lồ speak lớn her about.

Jack: Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl . . . I have ever met since . . . I met you.

Sentimental Comedy

Sentimental comedy was a popular genre in the 17th và 18th centuries that explored the trials of middle class characters & their methods of overcoming those challenges. Instead of making readers và viewers laugh, this type of comedy was designed to make them cry. However, the story was a happy one. Some of the dramedies of today may fit loosely in this category, but it is much more common in literature from the 1600s và 1700s.

She Stoops lớn Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith is an example of this type of comedy:

To come lớn my house, to lớn Điện thoại tư vấn for what he likes, khổng lồ turn me out of my own chair, to insult the family, to order his servants to get drunk, và then to tell me, "This house is mine, sir." By all that"s impudent, it makes me laugh. Ha! ha! ha! Pray, sir (bantering), as you take the house, what think you of taking the rest of the furniture? There"s a pair of silver candlesticks, & there"s a fire-screen, and here"s a pair of brazen-nosed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy lớn them?



Actually a size of drama, tragicomedy mixes humor và tragedy together in surprising ways. Most tragicomedies feature surprise endings, và almost all endings are happy. Tragic events weave their way through these stories, just as they vì in real life. Some classic include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Forrest Gump, & American Beauty.

One classic example of tragicomedy is William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice:

SALARINO: Why, yet it lives there uncheck"d that Antonio hath

a ship of rich lading wrecked on the narrow seas;

the Goodwins, I think they Gọi the place; a very

dangerous flat & fatal, where the carcasses of many

a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my gossip

Report be an honest woman of her word.

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SALANIO: I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever

knapped ginger or made her neighbours believe sầu she

wept for the death of a third husband. But it is

true, without any slips of prolixity or crossing the

plain highway of talk, that the good Antonio, the

honest Antonio,--O that I had a title good enough

to lớn keep his name company!--

Comedy Serves an Important Purpose

Although not all comedy is truly funny, it serves an important purpose in literature, film, and theater. Comedy lightens the mood and allows the audience lớn release some of the emotional tension that comes from the serious aspects of life and tragic situations. Whether you’re laughing out loud at of humor or simply smiling because a story has a happy ending, you’ll find that comedy is everywhere in the stories you read and watch.

Chuyên mục: literature