Various Minor Types of Comedy

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Farce or Travesty

      A comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations is termed as farce or travesty. A farce is a comedy style, which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, improbable and extravagant situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humor of varying degrees of sophistication. It can include sexual innuendo and word play, or a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases, culminating in an ending that often involves an elaborate chase scene. Farce is also characterized by physical humor and the use of deliberate absurdity or nonsense. The origins of the genre are not clear, but farcical elements can be found already in the plays of Aristophanes and Plautus. In English literature, even parts of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, or The Taming of the Shrew, 1-2 Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor can be classified as farce. Media examples include Fatuity Towers and Monty Python.


      Parody is similar to satire as it is a work that deliberately imitates another work for comic effect, sometimes delivering a message. Parody is an imitation of a particular writer, artist or a genre, exaggerating it deliberately to produce a comic effect. The humorous effect in parody is achieved by imitating and overstressing noticeable features of a famous piece of literature, as in caricatures, where certain peculiarities of a person are highlighted to achieve a humorous effect. Parody is defined as a work created to mock, comment on, or pokes fun at an original work, its subject, or author, by means of humorous or satiric imitation. Parody is nothing but a composition that imitates or misrepresents somebody’s style, in a humorous way.

Commedia Dell’arte

      This is a historical, improvised physical comedy, originating in Italy around the 16th to 18th centuries. Arlecchino the harlequin servant made it famous! Commedia dell’arte improvised from standardized situations and stock characters. Commedia dell’arte includes themes like adultery, jealousy, old age, and love. Many of the basic plot elements of Commedia dell’arte can be traced back to the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence, while some of these were translations of lost Greek comedies of the fourth century BC.

Burlesque Comedy

      Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian ‘burlesco’, which, in turn, is derived from the Italian ‘burla’ — a joke, ridicule or mockery. Burlesque requires discretion when studying this form with students. Focus on the origins of burlesque in England as satirical comedies. This is a form of satire, since Burlesque comedy involves ridiculing any basic style of speech or even writing. Burlesque is theatrical entertainment of broad and parodic humor, which usually involves comic skits. It is said to have originated from the Italian Commedia dell’arte.

Stand-up Comedy

      Stand-up Comedy is a type of comedy normally involving one person performing a comic routine before a live audience. It involves a comedian standing up in front of a crowd and amusing them with jokes and funny stories. There are several noted stand-up comedians, for example Jerry Seinfeld.

Revue / Variety Show / Vaudeville

      It typically involves a collection of songs, sketches, dances etc. into a single show. Sometimes related subject matter, though often not.

Theatre of the Absurd

      This genre is the insertion and detection of various forms of comedy (vaudeville, physical comedy, etc.) in absurdist plays. Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot is a fine example.

Musical Comedy

      This is a form of alternative comedy where humor is mostly derived from music with (or sometimes without) lyrics. Musical theatre is mostly (not always) comic in some way, hence lighthearted and appealing to the masses.

Comedy of Intrigue / Comedy of Situation

      Comedy of Intrigue / Comedy of Situation is the Comedy where the main characters are all involved in the same predicament and/or environment. Comedy of intrigue often involves complex plots and subplots, such as Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.

Comedy of Morals

      It is a comedy that condemns unacceptable behavior in society via the use of satire. Moliere’s Tartuffe is considered a fine example of the form.

Court Comedy

      This type of comedy is written to be performed at the court of kings and queens. Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost is one such example.

Old Comedy

      Around 5th century BC, Old Comedy was the first phase of Athenian conwcly popularized by Aristophanes whose works satirized public people and events.

New Comedy

      Around 320 BC to the middle of the 3rd century, New Comedy works included the typical Athenian citizen. Menander introduced New Comedy to Greece.


      Anecdotes are nothing but narration of interesting humorous events, which can be used to make the audience laugh. This is a very popular type of comedy.


      Banter is a form of comedy that includes sitcoms, exchange of witty remarks, and participation in harmless teasing.

Blend Word Comedy

      Blend word comedy is nothing but the creation of funny words by blending two or three words. For example, ‘slang’ plus ‘language’ ‘slanguage’, ‘breakfast’ plus ‘lunch’ - ‘brunch’ etc. may cause occasional laughter.


      This is a genre of humor, which involves a character or a comedian making foolish mistakes, which seem humorous to others. The most popular person to personify this genre in humor is Mr. Bean. He is quite popular for his blunder-comedy - Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean.


      Caricature involves exaggerated portrayal of a person’s mental, physical, or personality traits in wisecrack form. Caricatures can be insulting, complimentary, political or can be drawn solely for entertainment too.

The Catch Tale

      A catch tale is basically a funny story that messes up the reader or listener by implying an awful ending and then stopping with an abrupt declaration.


      A question asked for amusement, typically one with a pun in its answer; a riddle.

Freudian Slip

      A Freudian slip is nothing but a funny statement, which seems to just pop out from the comedian, but actually comes from the person’s subconscious thoughts. This is just like funny things said unintentionally owing to slip-of-the-tongue. The name Freudian slip is coined after the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud.

Gallows Humor

      Gallows humor is a type of humor which arises from traumatic or life-threatening situations such as wartime events, mass murder, hostilities or in other situations where death is impending and unavoidable. This genre is similar to black comedy but, the only difference is that the comedy is created by the victim.


      Irony is a type of comedy that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs and hence is a popular type of humor. Irony is portrayed through words or actions to express something completely different from the literal meaning.


      Melodramatic comedy is an extravagant comedy in which action is more salient than characterization.


      Nonsensism includes any kind of funny nonsense, absurdity without realistic logic.

Practical Comedy

      A Practical Comedy or prank is a stunt or trick to purposely make someone feel foolish or victimized, usually for humor. Since pranks or these practical jokes are designed to make people feel foolish or victimized, there is an inherent undertone of cruelty in most practical jokes.


      Recovery is a combination of blunder and wit, which means that the comedian or the character usually creates humor by making an error, and then saving himself with a fast and witty comeback.


      Witty comebacks, clever replies and droll retorts are all comic repartees.


      A comedy with serious elements or overtones is known as seriocomedy.


      Situational comedy, commonly known as sitcom is a popular type of comedy. A humorous drama, based, on situations that might arise in day-to-day life. There exist a large number of popular TV sitcoms, which are synonymous with this type of comedy.


      A witty remark about a particular person or thing that is thrown in at a perfect timing, at the spur of the moment, is known as a wisecrack.

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