Different kinds of comedy tend to overlap in a single stand-up comic performance or a single film. A few of them work the humor out and come across as genuinely funny while most of those who tried fall flat on their face out of failure. Sometimes it is so bad that even the face plant to the floor does not elicit any laughter. So this article would focus on the kind of comedy relevant today.
- Musical comedy
This is a little deceptive when it comes to explaining it. Sometimes the humor comes out of the situations that the characters get into. But for the most part, the humor exists all throughout the production that even the lyrics are funny. Two of the prominent productions that easily come to mind are “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “The Book of Mormon”. One recording artist that successfully capitalized on producing humorous lyrics that border on satire and parody is Weird Al Yankovic.
- Observational comedy
This has become the staple of stand-up comics who rely more on trending topics rather than personal experiences. George Carlin would have material based on his frustrations with the United States government among others. Bill Burr would include his comments about third wave feminists in his stand up routine. Jim Gaffigan would have stuff to discuss in his routines based on his observations of the fast food industry. And Chelsea Handler would have material based on her observations of tabloid fodder like Taylor Swift. This brings us to our next point.
- Insult comedy
Yes, Chelsea Handler. Obviously, these are insults passed off as jokes delivered in stand-up comic routine because the humor writes itself. All that is left for the comic is to deliver the punchline correctly. Long before some writers have labeled certain forms of comedy as “offensive comedy”, there is comedy intended to call out on someone or some things because the best platform to deliver said message is through comedy. This is why jesters existed in the past. A jester is the only person in the kingdom allowed to mock the king or queen not only to elicit humor and make the audience laugh. It reminds people in high places that no one is exempted from ridicule. And yes, it has become the bread and butter as of late of provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulous and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Speaking of Sacha Baron Cohen, the mockumentary genre has served him well in a way to elicit genuine reactions from his audience. While his hits “Borat” and “Bruno” are infused with improvisational comedy strategies, the barometer for this genre is still “This is Spinal Tap”. Because if you can’t get an actual rock band to cover for the sake of shooting a documentary, make up one and be blunt in marketing said work as a mockumentary. Directors then get a legit excuse to present humorous situations inspired by actual events (that real glam rock bands are not willing to admit to doing).
- Deadpan comedy
Deadpan comedy is best expressed in certain British panel talk shows like “Mock The Week” and “Have I Got News for You” where some panelists answer certain questions and come up with hilarious answers without any change of facial expression. It is best described as the opposite of physical comedy the moment you are introduced to some snippets of the British program “Blackadder” starring Rowan Atkinson.
- Character comedy
Speaking of Rowan Atkinson, his more famous character though is Mr. Bean. And you realize the difficulty of doing character comedy. The humor is based on the reactions to the situations that a certain character gets into. This is demonstrated best in an episode where Blackadder triggers some theater actors simply by uttering the word “Macbeth” to mock them compared to how Mr.Bean tries to drive his Beetle car and have purely physical reactions to situations that he gets into. No other character disparity has ever been this obvious which owes to the genius of Rowan Atkinson.
Which genre do you find most relatable? Limiting genres to this list is highly discouraged. Identifying any sub-sets or sub-groups within each genre though is highly recommended. Because the moment the humor writes itself as a series of knee-slapping reactions, it starts getting categorized based on reviews and comments generated apart from its intended audience.