Comedy The healing power
On comedy… “All tragedies are finished by death, all comedies are ended by a marriage.” – Lord byron
Comedy Definition an amusing play with a happy ending-unlike tragedy, it does not stress the noble conception of life.
Comedy Definition Instead it pleasantly satirizes human follies and incidents
Comedy Definition Aristotle- “Comedy represents men as worse than in actual life; Comedies are meant to make us laugh at ourselves as human beings in all our absurdity.”
Humor- The Failure of Language • irony • Puns •simple misunderstandings •double-entendres •monologues (in place of dialogues) •clichés •repetitions of synonyms
Humor- The Failure of Language •inability to find the right words •"telegraphic style" (shouting of commands or ideas, loss of grammar) •nonsense • literalization • hyberbole
Humor through Character • mistaken identity • coincidences • mistimings (discovery scenes) • incongruity (violating social taboos) • reversals • surprise
Humor through character • Women as strong, stable, assertive, decisive, civilizing force • Men as wild, wayward, fickle in love, easily fooled, doofusEs
Humor Through Plot Devices • Storms and shipwrecks • Twins (or twin-like characters) • Mistaken identity, characters in disguise • Women in pants • Bad brothers as villains
The Ladder of Comedy • low Comedy • Farce • Comedy of Manners • comedy of Ideas
Low comedy • Fart jokes • slapstick • physical mishaps • pie in the face • Deformity jokes • obscene sexual jokes • bodily function jokes
Farce • Full of coincidences • mis-timings • mis-understandings • mistaken identities • characters are puppets of fate • loss of identity because of fate or birth or an accident
Comedy of Manners • Verbal with • skillful use of language to elicit humor • amorous intrigues among upper class • “drawing room” comedy of clever speech and witty language
Comedy of Ideas • Characters argue about ideas • Use wit and clever language to mock • use of satire to laugh at that which is dear—family, friends, religion, politics, etc.
Tragicomedy Tragicomedy is a common genre in post-World War II British theatre, with authors as varied as Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, John Arden, Alan Ayckbourn and Harold Pinter writing in this genre.
Theater of the Absurd Developing out of the cultural reaction to World War II, absurdist drama took the basis of existential philosophy and combined it with dramatic elements to create a style of theatre which presented a world which can not be logically explained, a world in which life is absurd.
“A theater of ritual and ceremonial (like the theatre of ancient Greece) presupposes a valid and vital body of beliefs and myths. This is precisely what our own civilization lacks…
…it does not expound a thesis or debate ideological propositions, it is not concerned with the representation of events, the narration of the fate or adventures of characters, but instead with the presentation of the individual’s basic situation.” Martin Esselin
absurd: having no meaning; ridiculously unsound or incongruous; not adhering to the patterns of logic or reason.
absurd environment/absurd action absurdist literature portrays a world in which existence is fragmented, pointless. There is no truth so the search for truth is futile or abandoned. plots often deviated from the more traditional episodic structure, and seem to move in a circle, ending the same way it began.
Absurd action Action moves outside of the realm of causality to chaos. Absurdists minimalize the sense of place and characters are forced to move in an incomprehensible, void-like realm. The action in a play of the theater of the absurd is not intended to tell a story, but to communicate a pattern of poetic images.
Theater of the Absurd Since it is trying to present a sense of being, it can neither investigate nor solve problems of conduct or morals.
Theater of the Absurd It is a theatre of situation as opposed to a theatre of events in sequence, and therefore it uses language based on patterns of concrete images rather than argument and discursive speech.
Language is reduced to a bantering game where words obfuscate rather elucidate the truth. In a world that is defined by language, the loss of meaning and purpose is intimately linked to the breakdown of language. Dialogue becomes a mere game to pass the time.
Absurdist Theater Example • Do you ever wonder what Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were up to while they weren't front-stage during the play Hamlet? How did they spend their time in between scenes until they were summoned to do the bidding of King Claudius? How were they to occupy their time while waiting to be thrust back on to the stage into the action of Hamlet?
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Cont’d: • It turns out they did a whole lot of nothing--leading them to contemplate the very meaning of their existence and the trouble that comes with being trapped in someone else's play. • This comical absurdist rendition of "what could have happened" during Hamlet is one of Tom Stoppard's masterpieces. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead explores existential themes while pushing the limits of fiction and theatre.