Comedic genres

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Comedy may be divided into multiple genres based on the source of humor, the method of delivery, and the context in which it is delivered. These classifications overlap, and most comedians can fit into multiple genres. For example, deadpan comics often fall into observational comedy, or into black comedy or blue comedy to contrast the morbidity, or offensiveness of the joke with a lack of emotion.

Genre Description Notable examples
Aggressive Humour[1] Typically detrimental to the sentiments of others by igniting criticism and ridicule through the offensive jokes on subjects like racism, sexism or anything hurtful, differs from blue humor or dark comedy as it inclines more towards offending people than being humorous Daniel Tosh, Anthony Jeselnik, Kunal Kamra, Bill Burr, Sarah Silverman, Paul Mooney, Seth McFarlane, Jim Jefferies, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope, Frankie Boyle, Roseanne Barr, Jon Stewart, Michael Richards, Denis Leary, Chris Morris, Ari Shaffir, Lisa Lampanelli
Alternative comedy Differs from traditional punchline jokes which features many other forms of comedy such as observation, satire, surrealism, slapstick and improvisation. In its content, Alternative Comedy emerged as a counter to the establishment entertainment figures from the previous generation: It was often cited for its disregard to established comedic movements and ranged from the surreal to slapstick, usually with a combination of both. Tony Allen, Alexei Sayle, Mark Steel, Dan Harmon, Dave Gorman, Linda Smith, Jeremy Hardy, Ron Sparks, Alan Davies, Ben Elton, Jo Brand, Stewart Lee, Sean Hughes, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmonson, Malcolm Hardee, Kristen Schaal, Kevin McAleer, Simon Munnery, Arthur Smith, Arnold Brown, Robert Newman, Kenny Sebastian
Anecdotal comedy[2] Named after the word anecdote (which stems from the Greek term meaning “unpublished”); refers to comic personal stories that may be true or partly true but embellished[2] Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Patrice O'Neal, Russell Peters, Norm Macdonald, Aries Spears, Hannibal Buress, Deon Cole, John Mulaney, Bill Burr, Roy Wood Jr., Dave Chappelle, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, Gabriel Iglesias, Alonzo Bodden, D. L. Hughley, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Griffin, Hasan Minhaj, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan, Tom Segura,Biswa Kalyan Rath, Trevor Noah, Daniel Kitson, Chris Rock, Zakir Khan
Anti-humor A type of indirect humor that involves the joke-teller delivering something which is intentionally not funny, or lacking in intrinsic meaning Norm Macdonald, Ted Chippington, John Thomson, Andy Milonakis, Neil Hamburger, Tim & Eric, Eric Andre, Million Dollar Extreme, Edward Aczel, Paul Putner, Albert Brooks, Steve Martin, Martin Mull, Bill Bailey, Bo Burnham.
Black comedy or dark comedy Deals with disturbing subjects such as death, drugs, terrorism, rape, and war; can sometimes be related to the horror movie genre Jim Norton, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Dave Chappelle, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Louis C.K., Ryan Reynolds, Denis Leary, Monty Python, Richard Pryor, Ricky Gervais, George Carlin, Chris Rush, Mike Ward, Penn & Teller, Seth MacFarlane, Christopher Titus, Sacha Baron Cohen, Trey Parker/Matt Stone, Quentin Tarantino, David Cross, Peter Kay, Anthony Jeselnik, Daniel Tosh, Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg, Bobcat Goldthwait, Brendon Burns, Mark Normand
Blue comedy Typically sexual in nature (risqué) and/or using profane language; sometimes using gender or race based humor. Joan Rivers, Dave Attell, Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Frankie Boyle, Chappelle's Show, Cheech & Chong, Jim Davidson, Derek and Clive, Jenny Eclair, The Firesign Theatre, Redd Foxx, Jim Jefferies, Lisa Lampanelli, Martin Lawrence, George Lopez, Seth MacFarlane, Bernard Manning, Monty Python, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Joe Rogan, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman, Frank Skinner, Doug Stanhope, Robert Schimmel, Amy Schumer, John Valby, Ron White
Burlesque[1] Nonsensical or ridiculous treatment of serious works of art, music, literature or theatre to make a statement, in a humorous and entertaining way, prior knowledge of the subject is required by the audience The Comedies of Aristophanes, Burlesque, A Modest Proposal, The Rehearsal, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Beggar's Opera, The Rape of the Lock, Morgante, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Tale of Sir Thopas, The Virgile Travesty, Chrononhotonthologos
Character comedy Derives humor from a persona invented by a performer; often from stereotypes Phyllis Diller, Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey, Bob Nelson, Catherine Tate, Paul Eddington, Andrew Dice Clay, Rich Hall, Tim Allen, John Gordon Sinclair, Lenny Henry, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Ryan, Steve Guttenberg, Jerry Sadowitz, Steve Coogan, Bip, Jay London, Larry the Cable Guy, Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney), Sarah Silverman, Paul Reubens, Rob Brydon, Rowan Atkinson, Peter Helliar, Harry Enfield, Margaret Cho, Little Britain, Stephen Colbert, Al Murray, Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Kevin Hart, Alex Borstein, Vadivelu, Barry Humphries, Paul O'Grady, Caroline Aherne, Mary Tyler Moore, Kate McKinnon, Mo Collins, Chris Lilley, Michael McDonald (comedian), Kristen Wiig, Andy Lauer
Cringe comedy A comedy of embarrassment, in which the humor comes from inappropriate actions or words; usually popular in television shows and film, but occasionally in stand-up as well Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Ricky Gervais, Richard Herring, Rufus Hound, Larry David, Alan Partridge, Bob Saget; TV shows: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Peep Show, The Proposal, The Larry Sanders Show
Deadpan comedy Not strictly a style of comedy, it is telling jokes without a change in facial expression or change of emotion Milton Jones, Jack Dee, Bob Newhart, Jimmy Carr, Steven Wright, Peter Cook, Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, Dylan Moran, Christopher Walken, W. Kamau Bell, Buster Keaton, Bill Murray, Jim Gaffigan, Les Dawson, Mike Birbiglia, Mitch Hedberg, Bruce McCulloch, Demetri Martin, Todd Barry, Elliott Goblet, Aubrey Plaza, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Redmond, Judah Friedlander, James Acaster, Richard Belzer
Heritage comedy A method or genre in which a comedian discusses humorous traits or stereotypes about their own culture or heritage Pat Cooper, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Gabriel Iglesias, George Lopez, Jackie Mason, Russell Peters, Richard Pryor, Yakov Smirnoff, Henning Wehn
Improvisational comedy Improvisational (sometimes shortened to improv) comics rarely plan out their routines; television show examples: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Thank God You're Here Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters,Joan Rivers, Eddie Izzard, Bob Nelson, Paula Poundstone, Paul Merton, Tony Slattery, Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney, Steve Steen, Lily Tomlin, Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Drew Carey, Greg Proops, John Sessions, Neil Mullarkey, Kathy Greenwood, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, Jeff Davis, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, Jonathan Mangum, Mark Meer, Larry David, David Lawrence, Paul Spence, John Valby, Kaneez Surka
Inside humor Humor which requires special knowledge in order to be appreciated by the audience On their first two albums, the Firesign Theatre quoted lyrics and parodied character names from songs found on Beatles albums,[3] which did not appear on the popular Top 40 list. They also created their own inside jokes on later albums by referring to events which occur on their earlier albums.
Insult comedy A form which consists mainly of offensive insults directed at the performer's audience and/or other performers Don Rickles, Andrew Dice Clay, Ricky Gervais, Bob Saget, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Jerry Sadowitz, Sam Kinison, Seth MacFarlane, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Joan Rivers, Bianca Del Rio, Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Marcus Valerius Martialis, Jeffrey Ross, Dave Attell, Lisa Lampanelli, D.L. Hughley, Greg Giraldo, Goundamani, Kathy Griffin, John Valby, Gilbert Gottfried, Jeremy Clarkson, Daniel Tosh
Mockumentary A parody using the conventions of documentary style Films and TV shows: Fubar & Fubar 2, Borat, This is Spinal Tap, The Monkees, The Rutles, Summer Heights High, Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo, The Office, Brüno, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, Come Fly with Me, Angry Boys, The Compleat Al, "Trailer Park Boys", What We Do in the Shadows
Comedy music A form of alternative comedy where humor is mostly derived from music with (or sometimes without) lyrics Bill Bailey, Denis Leary, Tim Minchin, Ninja Sex Party, The Lonely Island, Flight Of The Conchords, Les Luthiers, Mitch Benn, Tenacious D, Spinal Tap, Stephen Lynch, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Bob Rivers, Bo Burnham, Wayne Brady, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Tiny Meat Gang, Tom Lehrer, Victor Borge, John Valby, Jasper Carrott, Boothby Graffoe, David O'Doherty, Rachel Bloom, Adam Sandler, Allan Sherman, Peter Schickele, Victoria Wood, Jon Lajoie, Dan Bull, Da Vinci's Notebook, Danny Gonzalez
Observational comedy Pokes fun at everyday life, often by inflating the importance of trivial things or by observing the silliness of something that society accepts as normal George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Craig Ferguson, Larry David, Mitch Hedberg, Billy Connolly, Michael McIntyre, Russell Howard, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, Gabriel Iglesias, W. Kamau Bell, Ray Romano, Chris Rush, Dane Cook, Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Jim Gaffigan, Kathy Greenwood, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, John Mulaney, Peter Kay, Victoria Wood, Sapan Verma, Kanan Gill, Richard Belzer
One-line joke A joke that is delivered in a single line. A good one-liner is said to be pithy - concise and meaningful Tommy Cooper, Rodney Dangerfield, Ken Dodd, Stewart Francis, Milton Jones, Tim Vine, Henny Youngman, Mitch Hedberg, Sean Hegarty, Jimmy Carr, Steven Wright, Demetri Martin, Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson, Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis, Shappi Khorsandi, Dan Mintz, Groucho Marx, Jay London
Physical comedy Somewhat similar to slapstick, this form uses physical movement and gestures; often influenced by clowning Michael Richards, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, Jim Carrey, Bob Nelson, Norman Wisdom, Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Chevy Chase, John Ritter, Conan O'Brien, Kunal Nayyar, Mr. Bean, Michael Mcintyre, Lee Evans, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Max Wall, Matthew Perry, Brent Butt, Kathy Greenwood, The Three Stooges, Lano & Woodley, Lucille Ball, Chris Farley, Sebastian Maniscalco, The Dangerous Brothers, Danny Kaye, Andy Lauer
Prop comedy Relies on ridiculous props, casual jackets or everyday objects used in humorous ways Bob Nelson, Carrot Top, Gallagher, Timmy Mallett, The Amazing Johnathan, Jerry Sadowitz, Red Skelton, Tape Face, Howie Mandel, Tommy Cooper, Harpo Marx, Bruce Baum
Shock humor A style of comedy that uses shock value to invoke a strong negative emotion as well as a comedic Howard Stern, Eric Andre, Tom Green
Sitcom Scripted dialogue creating a thematic situation; commonly found on television series The Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Fawlty Towers, Black Books, Porridge, Dad's Army, Blackadder, Gavin & Stacey, Brooklyn 99, My Wife and Kids, I Love Lucy, Friends, Corner Gas, That '70s Show, The Office, The Cosby Show, The Simpsons, Open All Hours, Only Fools and Horses, Dinner Ladies, Modern Family, Melissa & Joey, Miranda, All in the Family, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Sketch A shorter version of a sitcom, practised and typically performed live Armstrong and Miller, Cheech & Chong, Jennifer Saunders, Lorne Michaels, Dawn French, Craig Ferguson, Catherine Tate; TV shows: Monty Python, Armstrong and Miller, Saturday Night Live, Chappelle's Show, Firesign Theatre, In Living Color, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Mad TV, Mr. Show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Wonder Showzen, Key & Peele, Lenny Henry, Little Britain, The Kapil Sharma Show
Spoof/Parody The recreating of a book, film or play for humor; it can be used to make fun of, or ridicule, a certain production Mel Brooks, French and Saunders, Mitchell and Webb, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Peter Serafinowicz, Weird Al Yankovic, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker; Films and TV shows: Hot Shots!, Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, Shriek, Look Around You, Onion News Network
Surreal comedy A form of humor based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic Spike Milligan, Jay Kogen, Eddie Izzard, J. Stewart Burns, Ross Noble, Bill Bailey, Brent Butt, The Mighty Boosh, Steven Wright, Eric Andre, Trey Parker, Monty Python, Seth MacFarlane, David X. Cohen, Vic and Bob, The Goodies, Jack Handey, Derek Drymon, Wallace Wolodarsky, Harry Hill, The Kids in the Hall, Conan O'Brien, Tim and Eric, Paul Merton, Mitch Hedberg, Firesign Theatre, Shaun Micallef, Emo Philips, Hans Teeuwen, Tony Law, Chic Murray
Topical comedy/Satire Relies on headlining/important news and current affairs; it dates quickly, but is a popular form for late night talk-variety shows George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, Bill Hicks, Dick Gregory, Chris Morris, Dennis Miller, Norm Macdonald, Conan O'Brien, Russell Howard, Craig Ferguson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Dan Harmon, Andy Hamilton, Dave Allen, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Ian Hislop, Brent Butt, Paul Merton, Mort Sahl, Kathy Griffin, Stephen Colbert, Stewart Lee, Mark Thomas, Matt Groening, Rory Bremner, W. Kamau Bell, Ben Elton, David Cross, Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, The Chaser, Punt and Dennis, Jon Holmes, Tanmay Bhat, Hari Kondabolu; TV and Radio shows: The Daily Show, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, The News Quiz, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, South Park, Richard Belzer
Ventriloquism Involves character comedy; the comedian uses the skill of ventriloquy to "throw his or her voice" into a dummy or puppet character. The ventriloquist generally speaks as the "straight man" and gives the comic lines to the dummy. Exceptionally skilled ventriloquists can make the dummy sing. Fred Russell, Arthur Prince, The Great Lester, Edgar Bergen, Paul Winchell, Jimmy Nelson, Shari Lewis, Señor Wences, Willie Tyler, Nina Conti, Darci Lynne, Jeff Dunham
Wit/Word play More intellectual forms based on clever, often subtle manipulation of language (though puns can be crude and farcical) Groucho Marx, William Shakespeare, Harry Hill, Jay Jason, Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen, George Carlin, Tim Vine, Stephen Fry, Demetri Martin, Bo Burnham, Firesign Theatre, Myq Kaplan, Crazy Mohan, Coen brothers, Ronnie Barker, Stanley Unwin


  1. ^ a b "45 Types of Humor with Examples".
  2. ^ a b "20 Types and Forms of Humor". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  3. ^ Simels, Steve (1993). Putting It Simply, There's Never Been Anything Like The Firesign Theatre Before or Since (liner notes). Archived from the original on December 15, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.