Elements of a Comedy in Literature

What is Comedy?

Having roots in the Latin word ‘Comedia’ which means to reveal some information while singing. Well to most people the definition of comedy is a lot different. Even though the element so revelation and song may be included, they are not fundamental to every piece of comic work. 

In fact, today comedy is a form of dramatic construction that enlists and narrates mundane happening of the world with a humorous flair or even eccentric flavours.

Its tone is light and amusing and usually ends with merrymaking and happy resolution. In a lot of ways, if ‘tragedy’ represents demise and death, comedy stands for vitality and life.

Obviously, the design of the comedy is to entertain it can employ a range of elements and devices to trigger that response from the audiences/readers.

It often involves laughing at other’s mistakes and errors but requires a sense of intelligent use of observation and critique. It is not supposed to be abusive or hot-tempered but playful and accepting of human vulnerabilities.

Elements of Comedy in Literature

Among its various elements, some important ones are:

  1. Substance: It refers to the material of the comedy, its text and words. The stories and characters used in a comedy from the pith of it. Use of scathing and penetrating punch words and understandable sentences can help create a winning comedy.
  2. Expression and communication: This is also a pertinent pillar of any good comedy. The ability of the writer to express and elicit sentiments and feelings of the characters is crucial to get the same investment and response from the readers and audiences. Until the message or text of the comedy is not clear and moving, it will not push the reader into a state of delirious enjoyment. Hence, the ability to express and communicate with the readers in essential to not just make comedy good but in some cases, even divine (E.g. Dante, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare etc.).
  3. The originality of humour: If you are trying to copy some one’s funny jokes, they won’t sound funny coming out of your mouth for sure. Humour needs to be creative and unique as an old joke does not get too many new laughs.
  4. Timing and Rhythm: This is the most crucial element of any comedy. There are rhythm and pattern of every comedy. Its words work as beats and if the writer misses the beat the comedy loses its impact. The use of exact words at the exact moment of times and situations can be the difference between people laughing because of the writing or on it.
  5. Intelligent writing: Comedy is a hard genre to do well. It is often said that making some cry or feel desperate is easier than making them forget their miseries and break into a smile and laughter. This necessitates a level of intelligence and keen observation skills. A comedy writer has to force the reader’s mind to engage with what he is writing. Only with active and intellectual engagement will a comedy gain and earn deserved laughs. Just crass or abusive representation of other’s faults will not cause the reader to laugh at their follies. It needs to be more ingenious and constructive in nature.
  6. Setting: This refers to the staging and designing of the comedy. As comedy is a direct and lively conversation with the reader, it needs proper and smart staging in order to connect with the readers. Familiar characters and regular everyday situations can really invest the reader in the text of the comedy.