Humour plays an important role in a comedy films which usually has a happy ending with the exception of black comedy. Comedy is one of the oldest genres in film with the first silent movie being a comedy. Comedy lays emphasis on individual performers, with a number of stand-up comedians turning to films due to their popularity.
Comedy films have a very lighthearted script with the sole purpose of entertaining. However other comedy films carry a social or political message like wag the dog and man of the year.
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing is considered to be the first comedy of manners, however the genre actually became prominent during the Restoration period. The plot of the comedy consists of an illicit affair or some other controversy or gossip. The witty dialogues of the comedy is more important than the story.
In a particular kind of comedy the main character or characters find themselves confronting an unusual situation which causes humour. Such situations may arise for example with the exchange of gender roles as in Tootsie (1982); changing age role, as in Big (1988); an individual enjoying freedom placed in a structured atmosphere as in Police Academy (1984).
A parody or spoof is a comedy film that uses sarcasm, stereotype and jeering of scenes from other films. Blazing Saddles (1974), Airplane! (1980) and Young Frankenstein (1974) are examples in this genre.
The anarchic comedy film employs meaningless and ridiculous, stream-of-consciousness humor which often satirises some kind of authority. These types of films have originated from a theatrical history of anarchic staged comedy. Prominent films in this category includes Duck Soup (1933), National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
Black comedy films satirises death, murder, suicide and war which are usually considered to be the prohibited subjects. Examples include Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Ladykillers (1955).
Gross-out films are of recent origin and deals with sex and toilet humour. There’s Something About Mary (1998), and American Pie (1999) are examples in this genre.
The romantic comedy revolves around the relationship between man and woman. The light-hearted romantic comedies usually shows social interactions and sexual tensions between the couple. Examples of this kind of film include It’s a Wonderful World (1939), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Sabrina (1954), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Pretty Woman (1990).