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Why does comedy work?

Just think back to the last time you checked the TV guide. Have you noticed that there are no sketch shows or funny dramas? Like Monty Python or Blackadder? I haven’t. Today I’m looking at what made shows like Monty Python and Blackadder work, and see if why these kind of entertainment aren’t being made.

So, lets look at the three things I think make great comedy


she turned me into a newt- but I got better

Line delivery mean everything, in any form of entertaiment. One movie I saw recently was the King’s Speech, which definitely isn’t a comedy, but there are some hilarious lines because of the line delivery and the writing. But, in comedies, line delivery is even MORE important. It wouldn’t have been as funny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail if in the witch scene, the line “She turned me into a newt- but I got better” had been delivered wrong. But the comedic pause in between makes it even more funny.


i have a cunning plan

Characters are important in any film or TV show, but in comedy some of the best characters are the stupid ones. Take Blackadder for example. Everyone in Blackadder is completely crazy, except for Blackadder. Baldrick is crazy, Melchett is crazy, everyone is crazy. So when Blackadder is trying to find a way out of his situation, the way he interacts with all of these stupid people around provokes comedy gold. Like the courtroom scene from the pigeon episode-

The situation 


All comedy relies on the situation. If the situation isn’t funny, then the whole sketch or episode can’t be funny. Like the parrot sketch. Who goes to a pet shop to complain about a dead parrot? Who goes into a cheese shop and then finds out there’s no cheese? Some more examples. In Up, a Doberman Pincer having a high pitched voice. In the Holy Grail, people clapping coconuts together to make it seem like a horse. In Toy Story, the whole concept is silly, and there are many jokes about the characters being toys.

So to conclude, great comedy really just relies on a funny situation and great contrasting characters, with sharp delivery. Now hopefully someone will read this and make a really funny program with really good comedic elements.

But remember, even if there is no good comedy on nowadays-


About Ben Williams

I am a 17 year old pop culture addict from the south of England. I write about Doctor Who, superheroes, fantasy, films and occasionally dive into the random world of British culture.

4 responses »

  1. This post is absolutely delightful and informative. Thank you!

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  3. Graham Williams

    Hi Ben,
    Well I have finally found time to give your piece the attention it deserves. You are spot-on about delivery/timing, character and situation, but the big question, Why Does Comedy Work?, can be simply answered – it’s because you, the individual, find it funny. If enough individuals find it funny then it will get great viewing figures and become a hit and even proclaimed as a classic.

    But it is all down to individual taste. For example, my wife finds Mrs Brown’s Boys and Dad’s Army really, really funny when they are both clearly rubbish. However, she cannot stand Monty Python, The Brittas Empire or Red Dwarf (which are at the very apex of British comedy writing) and has always found Billy Connelly (at one time, and for many years, the funniest man in Britain) totally unwatchable, whilst doting on Jimmy Tarbuck and Ken Dodd (who really were sphincter shrivellingly unfunny).

    There are still some good sitcoms on television, but they do tend to be American imports (The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother etc) and some good comedians (David Mitchell, Jon Richardson, Michael McIntyre, but you have to like their style and their material to find them funny.

    There have many attempts to analyse what makes comedy funny and none have worked. A guy called Howard Jacobson (a comedy writer with a deserved reputation for being funny) wrote a book on this subject. I have a copy of this book (a present) and it is one of the most boring and uninvolving that I have ever struggled through, although it is partly redeemed by a spectacularly filthy poem halfway through (this was the only thing in the whole book that made me laugh out loud).

    I guess what I am trying to say is that all comedy is personal – you will only think it is good if it corresponds with your sense of humour. Comedy is meant to be fun and basically defies analysis.

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