Comedy as a Literary Genre

Definition – Examples – How to Write

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Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Today we’re talking about the third Pillar of Genre. We’re talking today about the Drama genre, and specifically, about Comedy as it pertains to the literary genre.

Comedy Definition

Comedy is any work that is intended to incite laughter and amusement, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy or any other entertainment medium. It dates back to the Ancient Greeks, originating from the comedy literary definition which refers to a medieval story or narrative involving an amusing character that triumphs over poor circumstances, creating comic effects. The tone here is light and satirical and the story always ends well.

Examples

Two things come immediately to mind when I think of comedy examples, and that is Deadpool and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Someone had to write the humor into each of those things and the comedic value is unmistakable. Other examples coming to mind are:

  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

And no doubt you thought about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is a classic Shakespearean comedy. The play is driven by the pranks of Puck, a mischievous jokester who uses magic to make characters fall in love with each other for comic effect.

How to Write in the Comedy Genre

So how do we approach writing comedy as a literary genre? Going back to the definition from earlier, we can see that the comedy genre needs several elements:

  1. A story or narrative. There needs to be a story to tell or some sort of narrative voice to frame the story. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the story is driven by a faerie named Puck.
  2. This story usually involves an amusing character triumphing over poor circumstances, and which creates the comic effect. In the example of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, our character is Puck, who is charged by his master Oberon to make humans in their forest fall in love with one another for the most advantageous marriages. 
  3. Keep the tone light, if not satirical. Again using A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Puck mistakes several people in the forest for one another, and makes the wrong people fall in love, then spends the rest of the night attempting to remedy his blunder.

Next Week

Now that we’ve talked about Tragedy and Comedy, it’s time we talked about the hijinx that are associated with farce. First though, the quarter is about to come to an end, so we’ll check in and see how well I did, and set some new goals. Stop by the blog in early July for the conclusion of the Drama Genre! Can you guess what our next Pillar of Genre is? There are only two remaining! Leave your guesses in the comments!

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your favorite drama in film or literature?
  2. Do you have a favorite type of drama subgenre?
  3. What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
  4. What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!

Click this link to hear this blog post as a podcast with your favorite podcasting app!

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