By Andrew Stott
What's comedy? Andrew Stott tackles this question via an research of comedian varieties, theories and strategies, tracing the old definitions of comedy from Aristotle to Chris Morris's Brass Eye through Wilde and Hancock. instead of trying to produce a totalising definition of 'the comic', this quantity makes a speciality of the importance of comedian 'events' via examine of varied theoretical methodologies, together with deconstruction, psychoanalysis and gender concept, and gives case reports of a few topics, starting from the drag act to the simplicity of slipping on a banana pores and skin.
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Social practices like the charivari, a cacophonous procession and serenade undertaken by the inhabitants of a village or district for the purposes of deriding and humiliating an unpopular marriage or person, are clearly used as a means of regulating the life of the community outside of official legislation. The humiliation COMEDY IN THE ACADEMY 37 of Malvolio in Twelfth Night may serve as an illustration. The gulling of Malvolio and the presentation of him as an extravagant lover ‘crossgartered’, is a festive castigation of the sour puritan steward whose very name means ‘ill-will’.
Humanity, in other words, creates an imaginatively inhabitable world of literary fiction carved from the patterns of life and death that assimilates the idea of seasonal rejuvenation into narrative. This is the case especially with narrative produced prior to the advent of modernity and the demythologization of culture that accompanied it. Narrative patterns, writes Frye, are usually divided into four main phases, the four seasons of the year being the type for four periods of the day (morning, noon, evening, night), four aspects of the water-cycle (rain, fountains, rivers, sea or snow), four periods of life (youth, maturity, age, death) and the like.
Such to write neither Plautus nor Terence dyd spare, Which among the learned at this day beares the bell; These with such other therein dyd excel. (Udall, 1984: Prologue, II. 15–21) Udall, headmaster at Eton, saw his play as an anglicized Latin comedy, affording it both academic and moral integrity. When, in 1588, Maurice Kyffin translated Terence’s Andria in a version principally to be used in schools, he prefaced the text with praise of Terence’s style, clearly revealing the influence of the comic theory of Donatus: Among all the Romane writers, there is none (by the judgement of the learned) so much available to be read and studied, for the true knowledge and purity of the Latin tong, as Pub.
Comedy (The New Critical Idiom) by Andrew Stott