By LIZZIE HARVEY

 

The Greek legend Aristophanes holds the title as the father of comedy. However, as an ancient Greek playwright and social commentator we can conclude that comedy has changed greatly over time despite this bearded man “giving birth” to it. Much like the transition a small child makes from toilet humour to innuendo as they ascend the mighty throne towards adulthood.

Back in the day, Greek theatres were home to the oral tradition of comedy. Due to the size of the theatre, conventions such as movement and voice had to be big for the audience to comprehend what was happening. Therefore there was a chorus of people (varying from 12 to 50) that would react and sing in response to the action that occurred. Greek comedies are also known for their innuendo and blatant boardy nature.

To be funny now is quite different than it was in the 1600’s, a.k.a. the Elizabethan Era. In Shakespeare’s day comedy was lined with risqué comments and witty puns that the different pronunciation of the English language in modern form can’t interpret. As the aforementioned man himself once said, “better to be a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

Comedy during these times was left to those considered intellectuals and had an aim to affect/commentate political and social views similar to many modern day comedians, for instance Guy Williams and James Nokise. It would be fair to say that comedy has changed greatly, and yet, not at all! Comedy is fluid and just uses the basis of the current society and discusses the themes and issues relevant to the time.

From 1895- 1936, the introduction of film took the world by storm. All the rave were silent films which were known for their genius comedic timing and hysterical narratives, all told without saying a word. Hence the term “silent.”

Silent films incorporated a form of comedy known as slapstick typically seen nowadays in clowning acts and mime. Slapstick uses the exaggeration of the body past what would actually occur. For example, if there was a banana peel lying on the ground, slapstick would have an actor slip and fall in a dramatic fashion. In real life, a person would step on the banana peel, realise they have stepped on a banana peel and probably continue walking. But it is the sheer ridiculousness of this over exaggerated action that makes it funny, right?

Today comedians stand up on stage and make people laugh for hours on end. I was once told if I were to attempt stand up comedy it would be very hit and miss, and even I would be the first to admit it would be more miss. Comedic timing and wit is a gift that very few people are blessed with!

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