From visually stimulating to sophisticated and literary refined, Comedy as a genre has numerous different forms of types. With the passage of time, some forms become less popular as the acceptance and popularity of some new form goes up. Therefore, when classifying comedies we start with the classical forms of it:
Types of Comedy
Low and High Comedy
While low comedy is a simple and physically more expressive form, it is also easier to understand and caters to a larger number of readers. High Comedy is a more refined and sophisticated form of comedy.
It appeals on a more intellectual and literary level with heavy usage of witty dialogues, historical and literary references and artistic representations. Example of High comedy would be Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest while low comedy would be Laurel and Hardy.
Comedy of Morals
Comedy of Morals is a popular form of high comedy where morality and comedy are fused to evolve a discussion about right and wrong. In these characters are put through various moral challenges.
Also, different characters represent different, oral stances and thus question the themes of sin and blessing, good and evil, crime and punishment etc.
Situational Comedy involves use of a well-crafted sequence of events and plot twists which create moments of hilarity. This format is also called a comedy of intrigues.
Comedy of Ideas
Comedy of Ideas is a form of high comedy where ideas are represented through particular personalities and characters and there is usually a clash or collision between differing ideas or point if views.
Slapstick, as low comedy, is all about falls and knockdowns, collisions and catapults. This form is full of physical activity and is enjoyed by almost all sorts of audiences and of all ages. Television shows like Mr Bean are excellent examples of such form of comedy.
Farce is a form of comedy where all logic is suspended and anything bizarre is welcomed. It involves insane and unrealistic conditions, action and audacious situations. This format is a good mix of both low and high comedy.
Satire is a widely popular format where things and situations are criticized and ridiculed to earn a few laughs. In terms of tone, it is a cynical form and draws laughter in the hypocritical actions and mistakes of people, institutions etc.
Parody is a form where imitation is done with a humorous twist. Things, individuals and situations are reenacted with a new age production and unfamiliar effects which brings fresh comic flavour to old stories.
Travesty as a genre is similar to parody where a serious issue or event is reproduced with a comic flavour and humorous tone.
Burlesque employs caricaturization of ideas to invoke humour. This means that important ideas are dismissed while unimportant ideas are regarded disproportionately.
Stand-up as a sub-genre has become a new favourite as performing arts and comedy have seemed to become indistinguishable. This involves a single person performing comical acts in front of a microphone or camera in order to earn a few laughs from the live or recorded audience.
Black Comedy differs mainly in terms of the subject matter it tackles and discusses. These include issues of gravity and intense scrutiny like politics, society, religion etc. This requires an in depth understanding of prevalent social phenomena and expert control over language. This genre is also called tragic comedy.
There are some revitalized forms of comedies as well that basically evoke a certain and specific emotional response from the readers. These include Romantic Comedy (themes of comedy and romance), Musical Comedy (confluence of music and comedy), etc.
Apart from these, Theatre of the Absurd, Vaudeville, Variety shows, Comedy of Humor, Commedia dell’arte etc are historical formats which have dwindled and almost extinct in terms of production except some unique settings like Broadway, Italian theatre etc.