A Complex Weaving of Comedy Genre

Aumont and M. Marie wrote that “comedy is a genre with blurred outlines, but universal”. It is true that we can say that comedy crosses all eras and all countries, each time enriching itself with new cultures and new social contexts. This is why the term “comedy” seems to be far too rich to be able to use it precisely on a current without encompassing the entire history of cinema.

The Aspect of Generic Determination

Raphaëlle Moine in Les Genres au cinemaexposes the limits of this generic determination by showing the excessive extension of this genre through the study of all the occurrences of the term: burlesque comedies, action, boulevard, manners, Italian comedies, zany, populist, romantic, “screwball”, “slapstick”, musical and finally dramatic comedies.

The Difficulties

It is difficult to establish visual, narrative, technical, historical codes, sweeping the entire age of comedy if it is to encompass the slapstick – blow of the stick – type of American comedy of the 1920s, and musicals or dramatic. At first glance, apart from the laughter register, it seems that these two types of films do not belong to the same genre. The use of 123movies tv is important here.

The Comedy Genres in World Cinema

Let us therefore take two distinct types of comedy genres to shed light on this question: Hollywood comedy and Italian comedy. Hollywood comedy arrives in the United States after burlesque, of which Buster Keaton is one of the greatest devotees. Burlesque is very well defined by Petr Kràl in Le Burlesque ou la morale de la tart à la crème as an exaltation of the comic body – taking up the rules of English pantomime – which is expressed by a situational comic that plays on excessiveness . This comic is based on the idea of bringing disorder into a tidy world – we think for example of the sketches of Fatty Arbuckle, where the goal is to cover as much as possible all the decoration with flour and molasses. The classic Hollywood comedy a la Howard Hawks was born in the 1930s, with the arrival of the talkie, and thus adds a new comic element: the dialogues.

It is indeed the comedy of words that is remarkable in Lubitsch and Capra: the comic effect is produced by the words – puns, language levels, repetitions. New-York-Miami (It Happened One Night – Frank Capra, 1934), is the film which launches a new sub-genre within Hollywood comedy, the “screwball comedy”, characterized by the combination of slapstick, dialogues lively, and an intrigue centered on questions of morals divorce, breakup, remarriage, love trio.

The Use of the Comedy

The comedy “all’italiana” comes later, after the breathlessness of neo-realism. This type of comedy is more satirical because it is oriented towards a social criticism which is generally less present in Hollywood comedy, more attached to a comedy of manners. Italian comedy finally finds the same subjects as those tackled by neo-realist filmmakers in the immediate post-war period, social misery, but this time tackled in the context of the economic miracle and in a comedic tone.


Serge Daney in “Éloge de Tati” (La Rampe), writes that laughing at his world is a good cinematographic way to criticize it. It is this idea that characterizes Italian comedy, as the Italian actor Toto explains, at the time of the theatrical release of the comedy Gendarmes et thieves, (Guardie e ladri – Mario Monicelli, 1951), a social testimony which establishes the link between comedy, satire and social reality: “I know misery by heart and misery is the scenario of the true comic. You can’t make people laugh if you don’t know pain, hunger, cold you can’t be a real comic actor without having made war with life”.

By Thomas

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