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Low Comedy

  • By: Jessica Milner Davis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The term low comedy is usually paired with the term high comedy. Both are general categories usually applied to stage comedy and are performed by actors using either a full or partial script. Like high comedy, low comedy describes both the material (characters, actions, and dialogue) included and its performance style. However, it can also be used figuratively to describe real-life events or concepts that seem broadly to share that spirit or flavor of comedy, as when a comic novel or painting includes scenes of low comedy, such as the vignettes of pratfalls and mishaps included in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) or the well-known footage in Modern Times (1936) of a hapless Charlie Chaplin being slowly spun through the massive cogs of ...

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