Comedy: Few genres are as complex as comedy. It may seem that the only thing in common between comic narratives is the possibility of provoking laughter, but this is not true: perhaps there is no more diverse genre than this one.
He doubts? So let’s see. There is the slapstick comedy, with a more physical and childish humor, “pie in the face” style – and which can even descend into scenes of violence. There is black humor, with a darker background, in which we often laugh so as not to cry. There are the famous romantic comedies, which involve us emotionally, in a style that many call “sugar water”. And we can’t forget the comedy based on catchphrases, which amuses us precisely because of its predictability – see, for example, the phrases that we already know by heart in the series Chaves and in the characters from Professor Raimundo’s Escolinha.
Formats are not exhausted here. But if you are a subscriber to the many streaming services that we have available in Brazil, know that it has a good menu of comedy styles so that you can learn more in depth. In this text, you will find a selection of indications so that you can enjoy and learn more about this much-needed genre.
One of the most popular formats of television comedy is what is called “sitcoming comedy” (in the original, these are the famous sitcoms). They are characterized by being lengthy humor narratives, which last for several seasons, and are set in some kind of setting or situation – such as families (like Modern Family, available on Netflix), a group of friends (like Friends, available on HBO Max, and How I Met Your Mother on Amazon Prime), or at a police station (like Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix).
Sitcoms are usually recorded on a stage where the scenes are shown to an audience, which usually laughs – and this laugh goes on the air, making the viewer also have fun, almost through “contamination”. It’s also common that these shows use the “cheerper”, that recorded laugh that plays in the background and marks the jokes. Another common feature is timing: a sitcom episode is typically between 22 and 30 minutes.
The slapstick comedy (in English, the genre is called slapstick) refers to a type of humor that is characterized by physical stimuli, often violent: the kind of people who slip on a banana peel, slap and pie in the face, eschatological jokes that refer to intestinal issues, etc. It is often understood as a less refined comedy because of its accessibility (children usually laugh a lot with programs of this type), but there is a mistake: it is possible to put together a very original comedy and still fit into this style. Just have talent.
Want an example? The talk show Lady Night (available on Globoplay), starring Tatá Werneck, has a lot of slapstick: she uses faces and her own body to provoke laughter in her guests – and, consequently, in the audience that watches her. The classic South Park cartoon (available on Pluto TV) has a bit of slapstick too – with lots of swear words and a character who died in each episode.
The black comedy, on the other hand, is amusing for an inhospitable reason: it causes discomfort in those who watch it. It’s a paradoxical mechanism – laughter often works as an outlet for an embarrassment situation.
We have award-winning comedies along those lines, like The Office (available on Amazon Prime and HBO Max), the classic series that takes place inside a paper company’s office. The fun of the episodes is that they follow the plight that employees go through at the hands of their boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell). A lesser-known example is Trailer Park Boys (on Netflix), which depicts the miserable life of Canadian trailer dwellers. Both series also fit the mockumentary format, a kind of fake documentary created for humor purposes.