Slapstick Comedy Slapstick is “broad comedy characterized by boisterous action, as the throwing of pies in actors' faces, mugging, and obvious farcical situations and jokes.” (Dictionary.com) or “a stick or lath used by harlequins, clowns, etc., as in pantomime, for striking other performers, especially a combination of laths that make a loud, clapping noise without hurting the person struck.” (Dictionary.com) The term ‘slapstick’ comes from two slats of wood made from splitting one stick into two. When striking one another, the sound of a slap is created which can be used as a comedic effect. This effect is used in this type of comedy without causing much if any physical damage to the actors or anything else. The slapstick was one of the earliest forms of special effects created for use in comedy.
“Slapstick comedians learned early on that humour could be prolonged if resistance, whether to gravity or another inevitability, could also be prolonged—in other words, as long as there were a chance that the other shoe might fall. This balancing act is the slapstick comic's main job: paradoxically, when we watch him—and it is usually a him—performing lack of control, at least part of our pleasure derives from his skill at controlling this lack.” (Film reference. URL: http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Slapstick-Comedy.html Date visited: 6th January 2017)
Slapstick comedy is mostly featured in the years of silent cinema and black and white films. Shakespeare used slapstick comedy in plays such as The Comedy of Errors in the scenes with beatings and chases. Pantomimes also involve slapstick and they came about in the early 19th century along with comedy routines in British music hall theatre. Comedians involved in these sketches include Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Fred Karno then developed this type of comedy without dialogue and included Laurel and Chaplin in his work, “Fred Karno’s Army”. Karno is thought to have revolutionised comedy; producer Hal Roach said Karno was “not only a genius, he is the man who originated slapstick comedy. We in Hollywood owe much to him.”
The style was further explored in the 19th and early 20th century and was known as the “golden era” of black and white, silent films. Comedians such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges flourished in this era. Silent slapstick also became popular for some of the early French films.
Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes also featured slapstick comedy. It worked because the audience finds the fact that a tiny little mouse can hurt a large cat. The chase scenes and violence scenes are appealing to an audience because of the effect that slapstick comedy has, what with the sound effects and the overall effect of this form of comedy.
Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is a single comedian who makes his work funny by just being his character and doesn’t necessarily need props or anything else to make him funny.