We all love to laugh. It is relaxing, therapeutic and releases all sorts of chemicals that automatically make us feel better. It is our physiological response to humor, an outlet to our amusement. Be it sedate giggles or boisterous guffaws, man needs his daily dose. In fact, an average adult human being is known to laugh at 17 times per day.
Given the human predisposition towards quips and laughter, it was employed by filmmakers as a tool to sell their work, in form of comedies. In fact, the relief theory heavily relies on this. In thrillers or intense films, when the tension is high, comic relief is used at just the right time, to enable the viewer to relieve the pent-up emotion, allowing the movie to build up again.
Comedy uses humor as driving force for the film. The purpose is to entertain the viewer. That said, many comedies also try to drive home a point, albeit in an unorthodox fashion. Being a versatile genre it can be incorporated in and overlap with almost all other genres of film. Not the easiest to pull off, if done well, comedy is a powerful means of communication, social commentary and even criticism.
Comedy as a genre, also has several sub-genre. Here are the more popular ones.
A sub-genre that relies heavily on physical gags, hyperbolic gestures and oodles of tomfoolery to depict humor. With timing being key, slapstick comedies depend on what the performer brings to the table.
Examples being, Airplane, Ace Ventura, or Bean.
Films that present the perfect marriage of action sequences with hilarious goof-ups qualify as action comedies.
Examples being, Most Jackie Chan films, and noir films like Rocknrolla.
An ironic emulation of sorts that aims at ridiculing the original and taking harmless (or sometimes downright offensive) digs at them. Often used as social satire, parodies can elicit peals of laughter, while being thought-provoking. Mockumentaries, or fake documentaries also qualify as parodies.
Examples being, the Scary Movie franchise, and Bill Maher’s Religulous, among others.
Exposing the murkier side of the world in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Black Comedies are often unapologetic, irreverent and impactful. They explore topics considered taboo in everyday discussions and challenge norms.
Examples being, Trainspotting and Dr. Strangelove.
Usually adored by almost everyone, rom-coms are feel-good films, which tell boy-meets-girl stories. They tend to be quirky and fun, and evoke fuzzy reactions from the audience. These films revolve around romantic, grand ideals, like true love. Almost always concluding with happy-endings, rom-coms aim at uplifting the mood of the viewer by being light-hearted and easy-to-watch.
Examples are plenty and include almost every classic in the book, Woody Allen films, countless Bollywood films, and an almost endless list.