A slap stick

Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy.[1][2][3] The term arises from a device developed during the broad, physical comedy style known as Commedia dell'arte in 16th Century Italy. The "slap stick" consists of two thin slats of wood, which make a 'slap' when striking another actor, with little force needed to make a loud—and comical—sound. The physical slap stick remains a key component of the plot in the traditional and popular Punch and Judy puppet show.


The name "slapstick" originates from the Italian batacchio or bataccio — called the "slap stick" in English — a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in commedia dell'arte. When struck, the batacchio produces a loud smacking noise, though little force transfers from the object to the person being struck. Actors may thus hit one another repeatedly with great audible effect while causing no damage and only very minor, if any, pain. Along with the inflatable bladder (of which the whoopee cushion is a modern variant), it was among the earliest special effects.

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