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Evolution Of Comedy Essay

1079 words - 5 pages

Comedy has evolved in many ways over the past two thousand years or so since the writings of Plautus and Aristophanes, and yet, there are many things that remain the same. When you look at modern comedy, such as the film "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," the connections between old Greek Comedy and the humor that exists today are very apparent. More specifically, when comparing the film to Plautus' Mostellaria one can see that the two contain many comedic and structural similarities. They both have similar plot ideas and the character structures are very alike as well, but what gives both stories the ability to contain so many similarities and still appeal to their intended ...view middle of the document...

As both stories continue, the plots become more and more similar.
Besides basic story structure similarities, humor is used in a similar way throughout both stories. The opening scenes for both show a comedic interaction between two servants (slaves) of the main family. One servant seems to be extremely quick-witted and has a history for trouble-making, while the other slave is a bit more dull and does things in an ethical way that agrees with his morals. An example of the this humorous exchange is at the end of Act 1, Scene 1; Tranio pretty handedly wins the battle of wits and then precedes to exit the conversation, then upon his exit, Grumio expresses "Is he really gone? Not to care one straw for what I've said!," (Corrigan) as if he won the exchange, when, as the audience, we have a clear understanding that he did not. Through interactions such as this, one can see that although there are many cultural differences between the times of the Greek Empire and the times of modern comedy, humor caused by a different level of knowledge between character and audience is still considered humorous. Also, comedy involving a playful battle of wits through the use of insults and play on words is still found funny by most modern cultures.
While a lot of the humor and plot structure in Mostellaria has transferred to modern reflections, such as the movie "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Not all humor is able to translate over exactly. Going back to Act 1, Scene 1 in Mostellaria, the original text, pre-translation, would not have been able to appeal to modern cultures to the extent of the English version. This is because the norms and values have changed over time. Robert Corrigan (translator for Mostellaria) does a good job of explaining the character differences between Tranio and Grumio in terms that people of modern times would understand. One of the first things Tranio says to Grumion is "Do you fancy yourself to be in the country? Get out of the house; be off into the country." (Corrigan) This allows the audience to know that Grumio is supposed to...

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