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date: 14 August 2020


The Companion to Theatre and Performance

A generic label usually taken in contemporary usage as an indication that a text, performance, or event features humorous intent. It may also imply that a story ends ‘happily’, and, to a lesser extent, that it orients itself toward the everyday world of the intended audience through vernacular language. None of these three elements, however, can be considered definitive, nor have they been consistently applied throughout Western dramatic history—and all can appear in texts which would not be considered comedies. It might be ventured that comedy renders the world with a distinctive sense of playfulness, even when its subject matter and themes are quite serious. It has been invoked with regard to a sprawling range of texts across media, as well as a model of improvised performance and a type of solo performance called ‘stand-up comedy’.... ...

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