A comedy film is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to make the audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. Films in this style traditionally have a happy ending (black comedy being an exception). One of the oldest genres in film – and derived from the classical comedy in theatre –, some of the very first silent movies were comedies, as slapstick comedy often relies on visual depictions, without requiring sound. When sound films became more prevalent during the 1920s, comedy films took another swing, as laughter could result from burlesque situations but also dialogue.
Comedy, compared with other film genres, puts much more focus on individual stars, with many former stand-up comics transitioning to the film industry due to their popularity. While many comic films are lighthearted stories with no intent other than to amuse, others contain political or social commentary (such as The King of Comedy and Wag the Dog).
The era of Silent Film began with the release of the motion picture itself. Many films were released in the late 1870s and 1880s that are widely considered to be the first instance of movies like The Horse in Motion (1875) by Eadweard Muybridge, Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), and Arrival of a Train (1895) by the Lumière Brothers. However, the first comedy film can be classified as the Watering the Gardener (1895) also created by the Lumière Brothers. These films were silent, and began the Silent Film era that was then defined by comedy actors like William Haines, Charlie Chaplin, Lon Chaney, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton.