Comedy (from the
κωμῳδία, kōmōdía) is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be
humorous or amusing by inducing
laughter, especially in
or any other entertainment medium. The term originated in
Ancient Greece: in
Athenian democracy, the
public opinion of voters was influenced by
political satire performed by
comic poets in
theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance pitting two groups, ages, genders, or societies against each other in an amusing
agon or conflict.
Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions posing obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth then becomes constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to resort to ruses which engender dramatic
irony, which provokes laughter.
Satire and political satire use comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of their humor.
Parody subverts popular genres and forms, critiquing those forms without necessarily condemning them.
Other forms of comedy include
screwball comedy, which derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters, and
black comedy, which is characterized by a form of humor that includes darker aspects of human behavior or human nature. Similarly
scatological humor, sexual humor, and
race humor create comedy by violating
social conventions or
taboos in comic ways. A
comedy of manners typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper-class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members.
Romantic comedy is a popular genre that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love. (
" is the 72nd episode of the
M*A*S*H television series
, and the final episode of the series' third season. First aired on March 18, 1975, and written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, the highly rated episode was most notable for its shocking and unexpected ending. The plot of the episode centers on the
and subsequent departure of the 4077th MASH's commander,
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake
). The highly controversial ending to the episode, which has since been referenced and parodied many times, prompted an estimated 1,000-plus letters to series producers
, and drew fire from both
20th Century Fox
. After the production of this episode, both Stevenson and
, who played the character of
Trapper John McIntyre
, left the series to pursue other interests. These combined departures and their subsequent replacements signaled the beginning of a major shift in focus of the M*A*S*H
series as a whole.
pun (or paronomasia) is a
phrase that deliberately exploits confusion between similar
rhetorical effect, whether
humorous or serious. A pun may also exploit confusion between two senses of the same written or spoken word, due to
metaphorical usage. For example, in the phrase, "There is nothing punny about bad puns", the pun takes place in the deliberate confusion of the implied word "funny" by the substitution of the word "punny", a heterophone of "funny". By definition, puns must be deliberate; an involuntary substitution of similar words is called a
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