Low comedy, in association to comedy, is a dramatic or literary form of entertainment with no primary purpose but to create laughter by boasting, boisterous jokes, drunkenness, scolding, fighting, buffoonery and other riotous activity. It is also characterized by "horseplay", slapstick or farce. Other examples include one throwing a custard pie into another's face. This definition has also expanded to include lewd types of comedy that rely on physical jokes, for example, the wedgie.
This type of comedy has been a fixture ever since Greek plays. Low comedy was first denoted as comedy for the commoners because it was most often practiced by street performers. Over time as low comedy began to include lewd jokes and more physical comedy, more mainstream performers began to practice this type of comedy: stand-up comedians, musicals, etc. This type of comedy also was employed in most children's cartoons.
Low comedy in society is quite well known; it can be found in a wide range of media, such as television and theatre. It can also be found in public and occupations, such as clowns, mimes and comedians. The term low is represented in association to low culture. This form of comedy is targeted and understood towards people who attain non-academic high school education, meaning this form of comedy is not restricted to high levels of education and knowledge. Low comedy is well known and popular today because it is considered suitable for all individuals. This form of comedy connects to popular culture by its easy to understand style.
Low comedy, however, has lacked appreciation from most of society and is looked down upon in contrast to high comedy. The sole purpose of low comedy is to evoke laughter in people. Because there is no contextual message in most forms of low comedy, it is not highly respected. This does not undermine the fact that it is still an effective form of comedy for its reputation to cause laughter.
The classification of things considered to be low comedy constantly changes overtime. As society changes, so do the ideas about what high and low comedy are. For example, due to the overdoing of sitcoms in the past, it is now considered shrill, vulgar, low society where everyone talk-screeches in some sub-human, mock-sophisticated language of incessant insult. Today, low comedy can be seen in almost any production. Sitcoms often base most of the plot on this type of comedy because of society influencing productivity and considering it a low form of comedy. Modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays also use low comedy to convey a different understanding of the play.
- Buffoon, a word for people who act (voluntarily or not) funny
- High comedy, the opposite, a more sophisticated type of comedy
- The Three Stooges, three comedic performers who used primarily slapstick humor
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- Roush, M. (1995, Oct 30). Low comedy of 'high society'. USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/408705508