The History of Comedy

Have you ever wondered what comedy used to be like, or where it originated? Obviously, comedy has immensely evolved from what it used to be. So, continue below to learn about the history of comedy.

History Comedy

Ancient Greek Comedy

The first origins of comedy trace all the way back to Aristophanes in 425 BCE. Aristophanes was an ancient Greek playwright and satirical author who wrote over 40 comedies, all of which were viewed as highly obscene. Other forms of comedy originated in ancient Greece, these forms include songs and recitations of phallic processions.

Then, in 335 BCE, Aristotle declared that the phallic processions were a huge milestone for comedy. He taught his followers that comedy was a positive thing for society, as it brought out the happiness and lightheartedness of every situation. Also, Aristotle helped define what true comedy is, and how it is the third for of literature.

Elizabethan Comedy

Comedy continued to evolve and take different forms, but in the 16th century, comedy became extremely popular in theatre. One of the most famous Elizabethan comic playwrights is Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s comedy plays all contain; a happy ending, a tone and lighthearted style, and a special event or marriage. The structures of Shakespeare’s comedies paved the way to how comedy plays are written today.

19th to 20th Century Comedy

In the early 19th century, comedians in England began to create slapstick comedy, as well as comedy sketches without dialogue. Some of the most popular comedians in England, during this time, were; Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, and Dan Leo. In addition to the new comedy forms in England, American vaudeville emerged.

Modern Day Comedy

Modern day comedy began to emerge at the beginning of the 20th century. In the early 20th century, television and radio became increasingly popular. Thus, the public no longer had to travel cross-country to see various performers. Instead, they just had to tune into their local radio station, or one of the T.V channels. Since television and radio allowed people from all over to listen to and watch comedians, comedians became extremely successful.

In addition to television and radio, films enabled comedians to get their big break in Hollywood. Stand-up comedians often taped specials for television channels, as well as starring in new television shows and movies. A few television shows proved to be monumental for comedy and television, they include; Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and M*A*S*H. Those shows not only created success for many American stand-up comedians and actors, but it paved the way for how comedians began their careers, all over the world. Some American television shows, like The Simpsons, showed that comedy could be a tad bit more obscene, and didn’t have to just poke at stereotypes.

The United States were not the only place for comic advancement. During the beginning of the 20th century, comedy began rapidly growing in Hong Kong, Bollywood, and France. The most notable out of those three locations is Hong Kong, which played a key role in shaping what comedy is within movies. Overall, without the creation and popularization of radio, television, and film, the field of comedy would never have shaped into what it is today.