Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Comdy (for Comedy)

No royal curse, no Trojan horse,
And a happy ending, of course!
Goodness and badness,
Panic is madness--
This time it all turns out all right!
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!

-- from Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Aristotle in his Poetics, a critique of Greek drama, distinguished between tragedy and comedy in this way: tragedy looks at men who are better than average (the gods and heroes of Greek myth) and comedy at those who are lower. Comedy looks at our failures and faults and, through amusement, attempts to correct them.

Comedy also emphasizes the social aspect of humankind, which can still be seen today—for example, in the way sitcoms are often positioned around a family, workplace, or group of friends.

Don’t want your coworkers laughing at you? Then be sure to include that E in the word comedy and avoid comdy, a typo of moderate probability on the Ballard List.

(Photo: Bruce Dow as Pseudolus in the Stratford Festival’s production of A Funny Thing…)

Leanne Olson

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