An Educative Guide on the Types of Comedy and Their Sub-genres

There are several types of comedy that are included under this popular genre in the movie and entertainment industry. Let's take a look at them in detail...
Entertainism Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
There are so many different shades of comedy which we aren't familiar with. We may sit back and enjoy a good movie, stand-up act or sitcom, but what kind of comedic performance it is, is usually unknown by audiences.

We look into the different kinds of comedy that make up the funny side of Hollywood, giving you an idea of what this genre in movies is all about.

You can now browse through a list of comedy types that are well-known as part of the big and small screen. Let's have a look at what these are...

Anecdotes
This form of comedy conveys an element of non-fiction in the narration of stories, which involve a person or an incident that is worth telling with an ultimate end that is amusing. They aren't really jokes per se but a way of revealing something substantial as part of the story that is being told.

Banter
Parties and social gatherings usually have an element of this if you recall the last time you got together with family and friends. It isn't a bunch of people sitting down to serious conversation, but a gathering that finds people throwing light jokes at each other even if it is at the expense of someone within the group. It is not a way of being insulting or rude, but playful among friends and those one is familiar with. A classic example would be sitcoms that have close friends or family members cracking jokes about each other which aren't offending, but quite hilarious. Think Seinfeld, Friends, and The Office.

Blend Words
This form of being humorous is when a comedian / actor is able to coin a new term by combining two singular words into one. We're aware of blend words like say, twirl (twist+wiggle) or brunch (breakfast+lunch). But what about those that are creatively snagged out of thin air? These unique blends of words are what comedians if creative enough, come up with to tickle your funny bone.

Blue Humor/Off-Color Humor
This kind of humor is common among those who use profane or sexually related material in their comedic routines. Other titles for this kind of comedy include cringe comedy, black comedy, insult comedy and the likes. These jokes revolve around immoral topics like child / domestic abuse, political scandals, or racism and so on. Stand-up comedians like Dave Chappelle, and the characters on South Park.

Blunder
This kind of comedy is where the comedian / actor is seen as making a fool out of himself to give way to humorous moments. Tripping over oneself, being nonsensical around people, and coming off as a pain in the rear are common traits of this kind of comedy. Rowan Atkinson is known for his role as Mr. Bean where his stupidity and oblivious-to-reality behavior, comes off as quite amusing to audiences. This form of humor is also known as 'slapstick' comedy.

Burlesque
This form of comedy is where the subject or idea behind the skit is portrayed in a humorous manner that's absent of seriousness. The material used for these skits are either real life characters that they wish to mock or amusingly portray, or serious plays with a spoof-like element to it. You'll see this in spoof movies that are based on serious roles, but with a twist of humor that is over-the-top and meant to invoke laughter. Think Scary Movie, Date Movie, and Vampires Suck.

Black Humor/Dark Comedy
Black humor or dark comedy often refers to the juxtaposition of morbid and farcical elements to create a disturbing effect. Black comedy, is a sub-genre of comedy and satire where grave topics like death, rape, murder, marital affair, human annihilation or domestic violence are treated in a satirical manner.

Commedia dell'arte:
Commedia dell'arte is an Italian style comedy of the 16th and 18th centuries improvised from standardized situations and stock characters. Commedia dell'arte includes themes like adultery, jealousy, old age, and love. Many of the basic plot elements of Commedia dell'arte can be traced back to Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence, while some of these were translations of lost Greek comedies of the fourth century BC.

Caricature
Caricature involves exaggerated portrayal of a person's mental, physical, or personality traits in wisecrack form. Caricatures can be insulting, complimentary, political or can be drawn solely for entertainment too.

Catch Tale
A catch tale is a routine or literary joke that starts off with momentum that is quick and hilarious, but comes to a screeching halt with an abrupt end that puts off audiences. Those narrating the story will have listeners believe that a somber ending approaches, but changes it quite swiftly into something else.

Conundrum
Also known as riddles, these questions or situations as one puts it, is a kind of mystery to solve or has a 'pun' answer to the riddle. Conundrums usually are those that entail a pun-like answer to it, where the opposite of these, that is 'enigmas' are where riddles are more mathematical or logic-based.

Freudian Slip
A Freudian slip is nothing but a funny statement, which seems to just pop out from the comedian, but actually comes from the person's subconscious thoughts. This is just like funny things said unintentionally owing to a slip-of-the-tongue situation. The name Freudian slip is coined after Sigmund Freud. We're all familiar with this sort of comedy where we get tongue-tied and let a completely different word slip out either subconsciously or by coming up with a hilarious word that didn't quite make sense but had the intended word within it.

Farce/Travesty
A comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations is termed as farce or travesty. A farce is a style which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, improbable and extravagant situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humor of varying degrees of sophistication. It can include sexual innuendo and word play, or a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases, culminating in an ending that often involves an elaborate chase scene. Farce is also characterized by physical humor and the use of deliberate absurdity or nonsense.

Gallows Humor
Gallows humor is a type of humor which arises from traumatic or life-threatening situations such as wartime events, mass murder, hostilities or in other situations where death is impending and unavoidable. This genre is similar to black comedy but the only difference is that the comedy is created by the victim.

Irony
Irony is a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs and hence is a popular type of humor. Irony is portrayed through words or actions to express something completely different from the literal meaning.

Melodrama
Melodramatic comedy is where the characters and the plot are overly done to portray a situation that drips with over-dramatic overtones. Movies and plays of the sort show themes based on highly emotional scenarios which audiences can relate to when heightened on-screen. These can be losing loved ones, illness portrayals and situations that call for the dramatic. Movies like Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Cast Away, Carrie and so on showcase melodramatic instances.

Nonsensism
This type of humor is marked by what the name suggests, 'nonsense'. It doesn't have any real logic or sense to it, but is nonetheless humorous in its delivery. There are two parts to this kind of comedy, known as 'wisecrack' and 'epigram'. The former is when a person makes a joke at someone or something that doesn't make the least bit sense, and the latter is when an observation is made and a stupid remark is passed that also doesn't make any sense at all.

Parody
Parody is defined as a work created to mock, comment on, or poke fun at an original work, its subject, or author, by means of humorous or satiric imitation. Parody is nothing but a composition that imitates or misrepresents somebody's style in a humorous way.

Practical Comedy
A practical joke or prank is a stunt or trick to purposely make someone feel foolish or victimized, usually for humor. Since pranks or these practical jokes are designed to make people feel foolish or victimized, there is an inherent undertone of cruelty in most practical jokes. Think Punked, Popcorn TV, and Candid Camera.

Recovery
Recovery is a combination of blunder and wit, which means that the comedian or the character usually creates humor by making an error, and then saving himself with a fast and witty comeback. This is usually to cancel out on a thought that audiences may derive from what he / she says, often doing so in a way that invokes laughter. This is what also known as a 'repartee' where hilarious comebacks and retorts are classic traits of this form of comedy.

Roasting
Usually a roastmaster is one who puts someone in the spotlight by using stories that are true / untrue in a bizarre fashion with remarks that are slightly insulting but taken in good humor by the one receiving them. Shows like 'Fashion Police' with Joan Rivers is one such example.

Switching
This involves changing the main parts of a story, such as the punch line to create humor.

Satire
Satire is defined as a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own. Satire is a branch of comedy, which makes use of witty language to convey insults or scorn. In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to reprimand by means of ridicule, burlesque, derision, irony, or other methods. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humor, but an attack on something or some subject the author strongly disapproves of.

Seriocomedy
A seriocomedy is where a play, act or movie has a serious element to it although with amusing bits that come and go. Movies like Throw Momma from the Train with Billy Crystal, and Bucket List with Morgan Freeman, are such examples.

Stand-up Comedy
Stand-up comedy involves a comedian standing up in front of a crowd and amusing them with jokes and funny stories. Noted stand-up comedians / comediennes are Benny Hill, Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman and so on.

Sitcom
Situational comedy, commonly known as 'sitcoms' is a popular type of comedy. A humorous drama based on situations that might arise in day-to-day life. Think Friends, My Wife and Kids, Full House, That 70s Show, and Living Single.

Comedy as you can see, has such a variety to it that none of us are familiar with. I hope that the next time you do sit down and watch your favorite comedian / comedienne or actor, that you'll be able to pinpoint which form of comedy is being used.