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Comedy is an act that is funny. In its popular meaning, the term encompasses stand-up, along with any discourse generally intended to amuse; this differs from the academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins can be found in Ancient Greece. The theatrical genre can be simply described as a dramatic performance pitting two societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Comedy contains variations on the elements of surprise, incongruity, conflict, repetitiveness, and the effect of opposite expectations, and there are many recognized genres.

Satire and political satire use ironic comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of humor. Parody borrows the form of some popular genre, artwork, or text but uses certain ironic changes to critique that form from within (though not necessarily in a condemning way). Screwball comedy derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters. Black comedy is defined by dark humor that makes light of so-called dark or evil elements in human nature. Similarly scatological humor, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating social conventions or taboos in comedic ways. A comedy of manners typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members. Romantic comedy is a popular genre (also known as rom com or romcom) that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those falling in love.

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Film star Jackie Chan
Rob-B-Hood (simplified Chinese: 宝贝计划; traditional Chinese: 寶貝計劃; pinyin: bǎobèi jìhuà) is a 2006 action comedy film written and directed by Benny Chan, starring Jackie Chan, Louis Koo and Michael Hui. The film was produced with a budget of HK$16.8 million and filmed between December 2005 and April 2006. Rob-B-Hood is notable as the first film in over 30 years, in which Jackie Chan, tired of being typecast as "Mr. Nice Guy", plays a negative character—A burglar and compulsive gambler. Rob-B-Hood tells the story of a kidnapping gone wrong in Hong Kong; a gang of burglars consisting of Thongs, Octopus and the Landlord kidnap a baby from a wealthy family on behalf of triads. With the Landlord arrested, Thongs and Octopus take care of the baby for a short time, developing strong bonds with him. Reluctant to hand the baby over, the two are forced to protect him from the triads who hired them in the first place. Rob-B-Hood was released in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia on 29 September 2006 to generally positive reviews. The film topped the Chinese box office in October 2006 and despite not being given a release in most European and North American countries, it grossed over US$20 million worldwide.

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Falstaff, by Eduard von Grützner
Credit: Eduard von Grützner

Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare as a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V. A fat, vainglorious, and cowardly knight, Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, but he is ultimately repudiated after Hal becomes king. Though primarily a comic figure, Falstaff still embodies a kind of depth common to Shakespeare's tricky comedy.

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Blue plaque at the house where Jacques was born: 125 High Street, Sandgate, Kent
Hattie Jacques (1922–1980) was an English comedy actress of stage, radio and screen, known to a world-wide audience through her portrayals of strict, no-nonsense characters in 14 of the Carry On films. She started her career on stage at the Players' Theatre, London, before progressing onto radio, where she appeared in three popular BBC series, It's That Man Again, Educating Archie and Hancock's Half Hour. Her cinematic debut—in Green for Danger—was brief and uncredited, but she grew to have a prolific screen career. Jacques developed a long professional stage and television partnership with Eric Sykes, with whom she co-starred in the long-running series Sykes and Sykes and a.... The role endeared her to the public and the two became staples of British television. Her private life was turbulent: she was married to the actor John Le Mesurier from 1949 until their divorce in 1965, a separation caused by her five-year affair with another man. Jacques, who had been overweight since her teenage years, suffered ill-health soon after the separation from Le Mesurier. She died in 1980 of a heart attack.

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Bert Williams
The man with the real sense of humor is the man who can put himself in the spectator's place and laugh at his own misfortunes.

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Terms: Black comedyComedianComedy clubComedy of mannersConvention (norm)IronyKomosParodyPolitical satireRace humorRestoration comedySatireScrewball comedySurreal humourTabooToilet humor

Comedy genres: BouffonComedy filmAnarchic comedy filmGross-out filmParody filmRomantic comedy filmScrewball comedy filmSlapstick filmComic novelDramedyImprovisational comedyMusical comedyStand-up comedyAlternative comedyImpressionist (entertainment)One-liner jokeComedy genresSketch comedyTelevision comedyRadio comedySituation comedyTragicomedy

History of theatre: Ancient Greek comedyAncient Roman comedyBurlesqueCitizen comedyClownComedy of humoursComedy of mannersComedy of menaceComédie larmoyanteCommedia dell'arteFaceJesterRestoration comedyShakespearean comedyDadaist/SurrealistTheatre of the absurd

Comedy events and awards: British Comedy AwardsCanadian Comedy AwardsCat Laughs Comedy FestivalEdinburgh Festival FringeJust for laughsHalloween Howls Comedy FestivalMelbourne International Comedy FestivalNew York Underground Comedy Festival

Lists: List of comediansList of British comediansList of Canadian comediansList of Finnish comediansList of German language comediansList of Italian comediansList of Mexican comediansList of Puerto Rican comediansList of Indian comediansList of British TV shows remade for the American marketList of comediesList of New York Improv comedians

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