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Physical comedy

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Title: Physical comedy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Eddie Pence, Chevy Chase, Alexei Sayle, Slapstick, Comedic genres
Collection: Comedy Genres, Slapstick Comedy
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Physical comedy


Physical comedy, whether conveyed by a pratfall (landing on the buttocks), a silly face, or the action of walking into walls, is a common and rarely subtle form of comedy. It is a clownish exploitation of movement, the most primordial human medium of expression, which predates language and the introduction of verbal humour such as cultural tradition, erudition and word puns. Often sitcoms will incorporate such movements into the scenes but may not rely on it exclusively to forward the story. Often it will be used as comic relief especially during more serious or intimate scenes.

Buster Keaton, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Benny Hill, Lucille Ball, Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Chris Farley, Johnny Lever, Zach Braff, Lee Evans, Dick van Dyke's character Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Tim Conway's character Ensign Charles "Chuck" Parker on McHale's Navy, Larry Hagman's character Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie, John Ritter's character Jack Tripper on Three's Company, Jim Carrey's character Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask, Michael Richards's character Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld, Neil Morrissey's character Tony in Men Behaving Badly, Dustin Diamond's character Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved by the Bell, Danny Dyer's character John Smith in the film Run for Your Wife, Jim Varney's character Ernest P. Worrell, Rowan Atkinson's character Mr. Bean, Jaleel White's character Steve Urkel on Family Matters, and Jason Lee's character Brodie Bruce in Mallrats are all examples of comedians who employ physical comedy as a medium for their characters. Charlie Chaplin started his film career as a physical comedian; although he developed additional means of comic expression, Chaplin's mature works continued to contain elements of slapstick. Slapstick elements include the trip, the slip, the double take, the collide, the fall (faint) and the roar.

See also


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