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Movie Humor Types

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

From its slapstick beginnings, honed in music halls and vaudeville circuits, film comedy would proliferate into numerous subgenres. At least 10 dominant, albeit overlapping, categories would evolve to elicit peculiar kinds of laughing experiences: slapstick, parody, character comedy, comedy of manners, romantic/screwball comedy, musical comedy, farce (animal comedy), satire/black comedy, hybrids, and mockumentary. This entry discusses each of these types of film comedy and gives some examples of them.

The earliest form of film comedy emerged as slapstick (from the theatrical device of two flat slabs of wood used by actors to make a loud noise when striking another), a rough and tumble form of visual horseplay. Director Mack Sennett mastered the pratfalls of the Keystone Cops and careening automobiles with panache. Slapstick would explode into ...

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