Comedic Genres

Comedy may be divided into multiple genres based on the source of humour, 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 boom comedy, or into black comedy or blue comedy to contrast the morbidity or offensiveness of the joke with a lack of emotion.

Type Description Famous comedians/comedy shows
Black comedy or dark comedy Black comedy deals with disturbing subjects such as death, drugs, terrorism, rape, and war. Some dark comedy is similar to the horror movie genre. Television examples include Brass Eye. Chris Morris, Jim Norton, Bill Hicks, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Denis Leary, Richard Pryor, Ricky Gervais, George Carlin, Chris Rush, Mike Ward, Penn & Teller, Patrice O'Neal, Rich Vos, The League of Gentlemen, Christopher Titus, Sacha Baron Cohen, Doug Stanhope, Brother Theodore, Tom Lehrer, Shel Silverstein, The Chaser's War On Everything, Monkey Dust, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Blue comedy Comedy based on sexism, racism and homophobic views, often using sexual jokes and profane language words. Eddie Murphy, Jim Davidson, Frankie Boyle, Andrew Dice Clay, Bernard Manning, Martin Lawrence, Roy 'Chubby' Brown, George Lopez, Doug Stanhope, Tommy Tiernan, Jerry Sadowitz, Redd Foxx, Bob Saget, Ron White, Dave Attell, Chris Rock, Derek and Clive, Sarah Silverman, Mike Ward, Chappelle's Show
Character comedy Character comedy derives humor from a persona invented by a performer. Much character comedy comes from stereotypes. Andy Kaufman, 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, Sarah Silverman, Rob Brydon, Rowan Atkinson, Peter Helliar, Harry Enfield, Margaret Cho, Little Britain, Stephen Colbert, Al Murray
Improvisational comedy Improvisational (sometimes shortened to improv) comics rarely plan out their routines. Prime examples of this kind of comic can be seen on the television shows Curb Your Enthusiasm, Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Thank God You're Here. Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, Paula Poundstone, Paul Merton, Tony Slattery, Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney, Steve Steen, 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, Jonathan Mangum.
Observational comedy 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, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Bill Cosby, Mitch Hedberg, Billy Connolly, Russell Howard, Ray Romano, Chris Rush, Dane Cook, Dave Hughes, Ricky Gervais, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Rock, Jeff Foxworthy, Jim Gaffigan, Kathy Greenwood, Ellen DeGeneres, Peter Kay, Daniel Tosh, Russell Peters, Demetri Martin, Tommy Tiernan, Carl Barron, Lee Evans, Michael Mcintyre, Kevin Bridges, Brian Regan
Alternative comedy Differing from traditional punchline jokes which features many other forms of comedy such as Observation, Satire, Surrealism, Slapstick and Improvisation Alexei Sayle, Mark Steel, 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
Physical comedy Somewhat similar to slapstick, this form of comedy uses physical movement and gestures. Physical comedy is often influenced by clowning. Jim Carrey, Norman Wisdom, Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Chevy Chase, John Ritter, Conan O'Brien, Mr. Bean, Michael Mcintyre, Lee Evans, Max Wall, Matthew Perry, Kathy Greenwood, The Three Stooges, Lano & Woodley, Lucille Ball, Dane Cook, Chris Farley
Prop comedy Comedy that relies on ridiculous props, casual jackets or everyday objects used in humorous ways. Carrot Top, Jeff Dunham, Gallagher, Timmy Mallett, The Amazing Johnathan, Jerry Sadowitz
Surreal comedy Surreal humour is a form of humor based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic. Spike Milligan, Eddie Izzard, Ross Noble, Bill Bailey, The Mighty Boosh, Steven Wright, Monty Python, Vic and Bob, The Goodies, Jack Handey, Harry Hill, The Kids in the Hall, Conan O'Brien, Tim and Eric, Paul Merton, Mitch Hedberg, Firesign Theatre, Shaun Micallef.
Deadpan comedy Not strictly a style of comedy. Telling jokes without a change in face expression or change in emotion Jack Dee, Jimmy Carr, Steven Wright, Peter Cook, Dylan Moran, Buster Keaton, Bill Murray, Jim Gaffigan, The Office, Les Dawson, Mike Birbiglia, Mitch Hedberg, Bruce McCulloch, Demetri Martin, Elliott Goblet, Aubrey Plaza.
Topical comedy/Satire Topical comedy relies on headlining/important news and current affairs. It dates quickly, but is a popular form of comedy for late night talk shows. George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Chris Morris, Dennis Miller, Conan O'Brien, Russell Howard, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Andy Hamilton, Bill Maher, Ian Hislop, Paul Merton, Kathy Griffin, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Stewart Lee, Rory Bremner, Ben Elton, David Cross, Lewis Black, Dave Chappelle, The Chaser, The Late Show, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, Punt and Dennis, Jon Holmes, The News Quiz, South Park.
Wit/Word play Wit and word play are more intellectual forms of comedy based on clever, often subtle manipulation of language (though puns can be crude and farcical). Groucho Marx, William Shakespeare, Bo Burnham, Harry Hill, Jay Jason, Oscar Wilde, Rodney Marks, Woody Allen, George Carlin, Tim Vine, Stephen Fry, Demetri Martin, Firesign Theatre, Myq Kaplan.
Insult Comedy Insult comedy is a form of comedy which consists mainly of offensive insults directed at the performer's audience and/or other performers. Don Rickles, Chris Rock, Andrew Dice Clay, Ricky Gervais, Bob Saget, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Jerry Sadowitz, Sam Kinison, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Marcus Valerius Martialis, Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, Greg Giraldo.
Mockumentary A fiction film that parodies the conventions of documentary style. Borat, This is Spinal Tap, The Monkees, The Rutles, Summer Heights High, Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo, The Office, BrĂ¼no, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, Come Fly with Me, Angry Boys, The Compleat Al
Cringe comedy A comedy of embarrassment, in which the humour comes from inappropriate actions or words. Usually popular in television shows and film, but occasionally in stand-up as well. Ricky Gervais, Richard Herring, Rufus Hound, The Office, Alan Partridge, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Peep Show, The Proposal, Bob Saget, Family Guy, The Inbetweeners
Sketch A small episode of comedy practised and recorded. Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, Chappelle's Show, Firesign Theatre, In Living Color, Catherine Tate, A Bit of Fry & Laurie
Sitcom A comedy drama creating a comic situation which develops over a longer period of time than a sketch; commonly found as television series Seinfeld, Fawlty Towers, Black Books, Porridge, Dad's Army, Blackadder, Gavin and Stacey, My Wife and Kids, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Office, Open All Hours, Only Fools and Horses, Dinner Ladies, Modern Family
Musical Comedy A form of alternative comedy where humor is mostly derived from music and/or lyrics. Bill Bailey, Denis Leary, Tim Minchin, 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
Spoof The recreating of a book, film or play for humour, it can be used to make fun of or ridicule a certain production French and Saunders, Mitchell and Webb, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Hot Shots, Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, Shriek, Peter Serafinowicz, Look Around You, Weird Al Yankovic
Technical Comedy Humor involving technical persons, and for example use of products, software and so on. Often the base of the comedy are work situations. Don McMillan
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