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  Comedy (Greek, ‘wedding-song’) is one of the main dramatic genres. Although a truly inclusive definition of comedy remains a chimera, a number of persistent recurrent elements differentiate comedy from tragedy, farce, and melodrama. Historically, comedy has more often tended to be concerned with the social and the domestic rather than the political and the heroic, though a satirical strand mocking the pretensions of politicians and do-gooders has been sustained since the ancient Greek comedies of Aristophanes. Generally the human follies anatomized in comedy are ridiculed through a concentration on the excesses of fashionable behaviour and dress, bombast, and, above all, on pretension. Comedies tend, therefore, to deal in ordinary, even stereotypical, characters and in common social situations. Where tragedy may exalt the intellectual and the individual, comedy emphasizes our shared humanity, often particularly in terms of our shared bodily functions. While one of the functions of comedy is to make people laugh, many comedies work also through laughter to present views of the ways of the world which enable their audiences to understand more of themselves and the world through a recognition of their own as well as others\' follies. TRG SS

See also bourgeois drama; carnival; comedy of manners; humours; irony; romantic comedy.Further reading Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism; , Elder Olson, The Theory of Comedy; , Wylie Sypher (ed.), Comedy.



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