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  • Aryan Kumar

The History Of Comedy

Comedy has been and will be an integral part of the entertainment industry, ranging from animals doing bizarre things on the internet, to watching a comedian entertain a large crowd. It is a diverse genre including videos, memes, stand-ups, movies, TV shows or simply a good time with family and friends, but did this concept just incite laughter among people all of a sudden or is there a diverse history as to where it originated? 


Well, comedy actually originated in Ancient Greece, first noticed in Aristotle’s works. The satire shown in his poems was humorous but this form was practiced even before his time during the Lenaia Festival, an annual dramatics festival celebrated in ancient Greece where five playwrights would compete, with one play each, seeing who could excite the audience more. 


We have similar practices today as well, like stand-up comedy shows in which contestants compete in different ways to see who is the funniest. Comparatively, comedy then and comedy now is very distinctive. From simple satire and jokes to mimicking or mocking people, either way, we find anything funny in today's world, all we need is one relatable meme. This was not the case earlier. 


In the ancient times, audiences would not just laugh at anything, even a comedical piece or a humorous act had to be strategically planned out. Take mimes for example, these artists were a prime source of comedy in ancient Greece as they would use only gestures and well acted out movements to depict a humorous scene which would give them a standing ovation from the crowds. The way these pieces of humor can be conveyed was fascinating and shows that whether it was 200 years ago or today, comedy was always spread through acting, at first at least.


In the 17th century, the first comic strip was printed in newspapers, spreading a simple laugh or giggle to its readers and making their day a little more cheerful. As this proved effective, more and more comical sections in the daily papers were added with different types of humour for the diverse audience like Garfield, Dick Tracey and Archie.


Slowly, humour could be passed by drawings, and in 1921 the first ‘meme’ was made. A simple meme using the ‘expectation vs reality’ theme made history and started a revolution of pictures with text that we have today that incited laughter and smiles. This laughter is in fact a good thing. It is considered healthy and stimulates many of our  organs. So the next time you view a comical piece or visit a comedy show, remember where they originated from as you witness the modern take on a concept that brings smiles on the faces of everyone that experiences it.


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