Slapstick is a type of broad, physical comedy involving exaggerated, boisterous actions (e.g. a pie in the face), farce, violence and activities which may exceed the boundaries of common sense.
The name "slapstick" comes from the batacchio or bataccio — called the "slap stick" in English — a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in commedia dell'arte. When struck, the battacchio produces a loud smacking noise, though little force transfers from the object to the person being struck. Actors may thus hit one another repeatedly with great audible effect while causing very little actual physical damage. Along with the inflatable bladder (of which the whoopee cushion is a modern variant), it was among the earliest special effects that a person could carry.
While the object from which the genre is derived dates from the Renaissance, theater historians argue that slapstick comedy has been at least somewhat present in almost all comedic genres since the rejuvenation of theater in church liturgical dramas in the Middle Ages. (Some argue[weasel words] for instances of it in Greek and Roman theater, as well.) Beating the devil off stage, for example, remained a stock comedic device in many otherwise serious religious plays. Shakespeare also incorporated many chase scenes and beatings into his comedies, such as in his play The Comedy of Errors. Building on its later popularity in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century ethnic routines of the American vaudeville house, the style was explored extensively during the "golden era" of black and white, silent movies directed by figures Mack Sennett and Hal Roach and featuring such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone Cops, The Three Stooges, and Chespirito. Slapstick is also common inTom and Jerry and Looney Tunes Merrie Melodies. Silent slapstick comedy was also popular in early French films and included films by Max Linder and Charles Prince.
Slapstick continues to maintain a presence in modern comedy that draws upon its lineage, running in film from Buster Keaton and Louis de Funès to Mel Brooks to the Jackass movies to the Farrelly Brothers, and in live performance from Weber and Fields to Jackie Gleason to Rowan Atkinson. Slapstick has remained popular to the present day, with YouTube star Psy making use of slapstick comedy in his videos.
See also 
- "slapstick - definition of slapstick by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "Slapstick Comedy - film, cinema". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "Slapstick comedy definition of Slapstick comedy in the Free Online Encyclopedia". Encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
|Look up slapstick in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "What's the Origin of Slapstick?" The Straight Dope, 1 March 2005.
- "Slapstick." Answers.com, 2008.
- Dirks, Tim. "Comedy Films." filmsite.org, 1996-2008.