Comedy of Characters and Ideas: Definition & Meaning

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Comedy of Characters

      Comedy of Character is a type comedy play that focuses on the absurdities and eccentricities of the characters rather than plot development. As one of the most recognizable and impactful forms of humor, character comedy comes to life from the persona invented by the performer. The comedian performs as though he/she is the character which is created by him/herself. The performer produces an overly dynamic personality that is usually based on stereotypes and trends in specific races, sexes, demographics and/or job duties. Richard Sheridan wrote a number of comedies of character works.

Comedy of Ideas

      Comedy of Ideas is a sophisticated form of comedy where characters are archetypes representing particular ideas or world views. At this level, the characters argue about important issues like war, gender, marriage, religion, class, and government. Different views on the issues are pitted against each other in a display of wit. The comedy looks at the foolish ideas behind an issue and ridicules the thinking and approach to the debate. Satire is a type of comedy of ideas; it is often irreverent and challenges the conventional thinking on issues. The Comedy of Ideas arises precisely from the self-consciousness of socialist society, whose inner spring is neither the will of God nor the private interests of human beings, but ideas in which the faith and passion of immense human masses are concentrated. The whole life of socialist society revolves not around the ‘divine’ and not around the ‘human’ but around some third thing, for which no suitable name has yet been invented, but which can be defined as the ‘ideational’ - life according to the idea. The comedies of George Bernard Shaw often are cited as examples of the comedy of ideas, to the extent that the philosophical debate in his plays sometimes takes center stage to the detriment of the drama itself. However, the term is not limited to the study of theater. A television show or a movie such as Monty Python also can be a comedy of ideas.

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