• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Slapstick

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

Slapstick is a form of physical comedy generally involving broad humor, horseplay, absurd situations, or violent actions. Other familiar examples are pies in the face, pratfalls (landing on one’s backside), walking into walls, slipping on banana peels, goofy faces, and “wedgies” (pulling up someone’s underwear at the waistband so as to wedge it between the buttocks). The term comes from a slapstick, a theatrical prop consisting of two sticks that slap on each other so that they produce a loud clap when applied with little force, thus simulating a hard blow with no risk to the actors.

Film examples of slapstick include works by or starring The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Dick Van Dyke, Mel Brooks, Rowan Atkinson, Chris Farley, ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles