Types of Comedy

As you foray into comedic writing, here is a helpful breakdown of some of the most common forms of comedy (in both writing and performance). What’s your bag when it comes to funny? If you have only tried “observational comedy,” you may consider dabbling in some “absurdist comedy” for a change of pace.

13 Popular Types of Comedy

There are several styles of comedy that entertain in completely different ways. Consider some of the most popular comedic genres.

  1. Slapstick comedy: Slapstick involves physical comedy, exaggerated facial expressions, and stunts. This style of humor was popularized in the early twentieth century by comedians like Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges.
  2. Dark comedy: Also known as black comedy, this subgenre focuses on the incongruity of comedic elements and morbid subjects like war, death, and crime. This style of dark humor is seen in the works of writers like Kurt Vonnegut and filmmakers like the Coen brothers.
  3. Self-deprecating humor: Self-deprecating humor focuses on the shortcomings of a particular character or performer. Stand-up comedian Rodney Dangerfield used self-deprecating humor in many of his routines.
  4. Romantic comedy: This genre of comedy combines themes of romantic love with humor. William Shakespeare wrote many influential romantic comedies, including The Merchant of Venice (1596) and Twelfth Night (1601).
  5. High comedy: This highbrow form of comedy is exemplified in works like Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Sometimes known as comedy of manners, high comedy typically uses satirical wit in the context of upper-class societies.
  6. Situational comedy: Situational comedies draw humor from the relationships and dynamics between a recurring cast of characters in a consistent setting. Some popular sitcom television shows include The Office (2005–2013) and Seinfeld (1989–1998).
  7. Parody: Parodies spoof existing works through imitation and exaggeration. Examples of parody films include Young Frankenstein (1974) and Scary Movie (2000).
  8. Surreal humor: This form of humor focuses on absurd situations that defy logic and reason. The British comedy troupe Monty Python developed a unique brand of surreal humor in their shows and films.
  9. Tragicomedy: Tragicomedies combine comedic elements with serious subjects to explore different aspects of the human experience.
  10. Farce: Farce centers around exaggerated characters dealing with improbable situations caused by miscommunication or mistaken identity. Home Alone (1990) and The Hangover (2009) are two popular movies that employ farce.
  11. Wordplay comedy: Performers use this style of comedy to entertain audiences by using witty wordplay. Examples of wordplay include puns, double entendre, alliteration, and rhymes.
  12. Deadpan comedy: This style of dry comedy evokes laughter through the intentional lack of emotion while talking about absurd topics.
  13. Observational comedy: Performers use observational comedy to draw attention to the unnoticed humor within everyday life.

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