Television Comedies Essay

1513 words - 7 pages

Television comedies have been on the air for decades, and throughout this time many different shows have come and gone. Due to the dominance of these shows, comedies are one of the biggest draws on television. There are many different types of comedies, each with their own unique characteristics and features that differentiate them from others and lead to their popularity. Whether the show is a sketch comedy, sitcom, mockumentary or dramatic comedy, each utilizes different types of humour, locations, themes, and situations to appeal to the audience; which is likely why they are so popular today.

One of the most famous types of television comedy is the sketch comedy style. Greg M. Smith, in ...view middle of the document...

Like sketch comedies, sitcoms share a lot of similar types of humour.

Over the years, sitcoms (or situational comedies) have become the largest and most popular type of television show. Although they share similar types of humour with sketch comedies such as satire, parody, and slapstick, they also include, and centre on the comedic styles of situational humour. Unlike sketches, sitcoms generally feature ongoing and recurring characters who tend to remain in a familiar, or at least a similar, environment from episode to episode. Most sitcoms tend to be about thirty minutes in length including commercials, and represent the majority of currently televised comedic shows. Many, but not all, sitcoms utilize a laugh track in an attempt to get the viewer to laugh along with the show. The diversity of this genre allows it to incorporate a large variety of shows including The Office, Seinfeld, Friends, Community, and The Big Bang Theory. There are also many famous animated sitcoms like Family Guy, King of the Hill, and South Park. In his article, "I Was Just Doing a Joke There,” Eric Detweiller discusses the irony and paradoxes played out in the sitcom The Office, and declares that “The Office twists and creates new genre conventions to use irony in ways not common in previous sitcoms...,” (page) Detweiller’s statement provides an important piece of information about sitcoms; they are always changing, and evolving, pondering the current social norms through the use of humour. Because of the vast range of topics today’s sitcoms explore, viewers can always find a current show with the topical humour and characters they enjoy. Though they may often differ greatly in plot, all sitcoms still share at least some of the vital elements of the sitcom; location norms, length, and comedic styles that make them a member of the genre. Thus, due to the broad nature of elements and styles that exist within a sitcom, sitcoms often overlap with other genres like mokumentaries.

Mokumentaries incorporate the ideas of a serious documentary, but in a way that comically mocks, satires, or parodies the situations. These shows are designed to seem as though they could be real, but in fact, are not. In mokumentaries, characters will often break the fourth wall by conversing with or even showing members of the film crew during scenes; they have an awareness of the camera. Unlike sitcoms that use laugh tracks to invoke viewer response, mockumentaries allow for silent pauses and off set conversations to heighten their humour. Christopher Kocela”s “Cynics Encouraged to Apply: The Office as Reality Viewer Training” provides an example of this effect. (long text cite) “(T)o promote knowing laughter at Michael’s blunders, the mockumentary editors of The Office conspicuously police audience reaction by ensuring that Michael is able to get a word in to the viewing audience after his offensive gags and remarks have been “caught” by the film crew. Often this confessional sequence is...

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