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"Ever since prehistoric times, wise men have tried to understand what exactly makes people laugh. That's why they were called wise men. All the other prehistoric people were out puncturing each other with spears, and the wise men were back in the cave saying:
—Dave Barry, Why Humor is Funny
Describe Comedy here.
You don't want much, do you?
Comedy is an elusive and fast-moving target to define. There's an entire field for trying to discover "Humor Theory", trying to find out what makes funny tick. General public consensus is that humor comes from the unexpected, but this theory is still flawed and doesn't explain everything. One thing's for sure: comedy is funny.
Comedy, as something primarily happy, is directly opposed to Tragedy, but not so much Drama, and can never be perfectly combined with Horror. And has been since the day it was conceived as a term, albeit not like we know today; comedy was something with a happy ending, i.e. Dante's Divine Comedy, Tragedy was a something that had a sad ending. Propelled off of Rule of Funny, comedy infects all art forms. Its hobbies include satires, parodies, pastiches, playing for laughs, snarking, irony, and hiding snickerdoodles in its knickerbockers.
Comedy of Note:
- The Marx Brothers
- Charlie Chaplin was arguably the first major film comedian.
- Mel Brooks
- Kind Hearts and Coronets
- PG Wodehouse
- Douglas Adams
- Terry Pratchett
- Mark Twain; first "American" humorist.
- William Shakespeare - Master of English tragedy though he was, he also wrote a lot of ridiculously funny (and often extremely dirty) comedies.
- The Canterbury Tales
- Monty Python's Flying Circus turned comedy on its head with surrealism.
- Saturday Night Live took all the comedy that came before it, and threw it into a blender, creating the foundation for modern humor. It does this once a decade.
- Abbott and Costello
- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
- Seinfeld puts Jerry Seinfeld on this list twice.
- Kath and Kim
- Kids in The Hall
- Mr. Show
- Arrested Development
- Garfield doesn't have the highest laugh quotient around, but it is a comedy, and is a big name.
- Richard Pryor brought racial comedy into the mix.
- George Carlin derived most of his humor through cynicism.
- Lenny Bruce was a sort of proto-Carlin, using edgy comedy that upset Moral Guardians.
- Jerry Seinfeld is often attributed with inventing Observational Comedy.
- Eddie Izzard is similarly attributed with kick-starting Absurdist humor.
- Robin Williams
- Bill Hicks