Comedy

In a modern sense, comedy (from the Greek: κωμῳδία, kōmōidía) refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters.[1] The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups 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."[2] A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.[3]

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.

Etymology

Tragic Comic Masks of Ancient Greek Theatre represented in the Hadrian's Villa mosaic

The word "comedy" is derived from the Classical Greek κωμῳδία kōmōidía, which is a compound either of κῶμος kômos (revel) or κώμη kṓmē (village) and ᾠδή ōidḗ (singing); it is possible that κῶμος itself is derived from κώμη, and originally meant a village revel. The adjective "comic" (Greek κωμικός kōmikós), which strictly means that which relates to comedy is, in modern usage, generally confined to the sense of "laughter-provoking".[4] Of this, the word came into modern usage through the Latin comoedia and Italian commedia and has, over time, passed through various shades of meaning.[5]

The Greeks and Romans confined their use of the word "comedy" to descriptions of stage-plays with happy endings. Aristotle defined comedy as an imitation of men worse than the average (where tragedy was an imitation of men better than the average). However, the characters portrayed in comedies were not worse than average in every way, only insofar as they are Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistake or deformity not productive of pain or harm to others; the mask, for instance, that excites laughter is something ugly and distorted without causing pain.[6] In the Middle Ages, the term expanded to include narrative poems with happy endings. It is in this sense that Dante used the term in the title of his poem, La Commedia.

As time progressed, the word came more and more to be associated with any sort of performance intended to cause laughter.[5] During the Middle Ages, the term "comedy" became synonymous with satire, and later with humour in general.

Aristotle's Poetics was translated into Arabic in the medieval Islamic world, where it was elaborated upon by Arabic writers and Islamic philosophers, such as Abu Bischr, and his pupils Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. They disassociated comedy from Greek dramatic representation and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as hija (satirical poetry). They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension", and made no reference to light and cheerful events, or to the troubling beginnings and happy endings associated with classical Greek comedy.

After the Latin translations of the 12th century, the term "comedy" gained a more general meaning in medieval literature.[7]

In the late 20th century, many scholars preferred to use the term laughter to refer to the whole gamut of the comic, in order to avoid the use of ambiguous and problematically defined genres such as the grotesque, irony, and satire.[8][9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Komedie
العربية: كوميديا
aragonés: Comedia
asturianu: Comedia
azərbaycanca: Komediya
башҡортса: Комедия
беларуская: Камедыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Камэдыя
български: Комедия
bosanski: Komedija
brezhoneg: Fentc'hoari
català: Comèdia
čeština: Komedie
Cymraeg: Comedi
dansk: Komedie
Deutsch: Komödie
eesti: Komöödia
Ελληνικά: Κωμωδία
español: Comedia
Esperanto: Komedio
euskara: Komedia
فارسی: کمدی
français: Comédie
Frysk: Komeedzje
Gagauz: Komediya
galego: Comedia
贛語: 喜劇
한국어: 희극
हिन्दी: प्रहसन
hrvatski: Komedija
Ido: Komedio
Bahasa Indonesia: Komedi
Ирон: Комеди
italiano: Commedia
עברית: קומדיה
Basa Jawa: Komedi
ქართული: კომედია
қазақша: Комедия
Kiswahili: Vichekesho
kurdî: Pêkenok
Кыргызча: Комедия
Latina: Comoedia
latviešu: Komēdija
lietuvių: Komedija
magyar: Komédia
македонски: Комедија
മലയാളം: തമാശ
Bahasa Melayu: Komedi
Nederlands: Komedie
नेपाल भाषा: ख्यालः
日本語: 喜劇
norsk: Komedie
norsk nynorsk: Komedie
occitan: Comèdia
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Komediya
Patois: Kamedi
polski: Komedia
português: Comédia
română: Comedie
русиньскый: Комедія
русский: Комедия
Scots: Comedy
Seeltersk: Komödie
shqip: Komedia
sicilianu: Cummedia
Simple English: Comedy
slovenčina: Komédia
slovenščina: Komedija
Soomaaliga: Majaajilo
српски / srpski: Комедија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Komedija
Basa Sunda: Komédi
suomi: Komedia
svenska: Komedi
Tagalog: Komedya
татарча/tatarça: Комедия
Türkçe: Komedi
українська: Комедія
اردو: طربیہ
Tiếng Việt: Hài kịch
walon: Comedeye
Winaray: Komedya
ייִדיש: קאמעדיע
粵語: 喜劇
žemaitėška: Kuomedėjė
中文: 喜劇