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Comedy is an act funny. It has a popular meaning (stand-up, along with any discourse generally intended to amuse), which differs from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are 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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Ricky Gervais, creator of the UK version
The Office is an award-winning American television comedy which deals with the daily lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Although fictional and scripted, the show takes the form of a documentary, with the presence of the camera openly acknowledged. Based on the British series of the same name, it was adapted for U.S. audiences by executive producer Greg Daniels, a veteran writer of Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill and The Simpsons. Original series creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have production credits on the show, and wrote an episode for the show's third season. It is co-produced by Greg Daniels' Deedle-Dee Productions and Reveille Productions, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio. The show debuted on NBC as a midseason replacement on March 24, 2005 and is broadcast on that network in the United States and other television stations around the world. It will be available for syndication in late 2009. In Fall 2007 TBS started broadcasting episodes once a week, and will begin broadcasting the series five days a week in Fall 2009. The Fox Television Stations group have also obtained syndication rights starting in late 2009.

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Detail, side A from a Sicilian red-figured calyx-krater (c. 350 BC – 340 BC).
Credit: Jastrow

Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods, Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy. Old Comedy survives today largely in the form of the eleven surviving plays of Aristophanes, while Middle Comedy is largely lost, i.e. preserved only in relatively short fragments by authors such as Athenaeus of Naucratis. New Comedy is known primarily from the substantial papyrus fragments of Menander.

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Bernadette Peters in 2008
Bernadette Peters (born February 28, 1948) is an American actress and singer from New York City. Over the course of a career that has already spanned five decades, she has starred in musical theatre, films and television, as well as performing in solo concerts and recordings. She is one of the most critically-acclaimed Broadway performers, having received nominations for seven Tony Awards, winning two, and eight Drama Desk Awards, winning three. Four of the Broadway cast albums on which she has starred have won Grammy Awards. She was praised for her early work as a child and teenage actor and for appearances on The Muppet Show, The Carol Burnett Show and in other television work, and for her comic characters in films like Silent Movie, The Jerk and Pennies from Heaven. In the 1980s she returned to the theatre, where she became one of the best-known Broadway stars over the next three decades. She also has recorded six solo albums and several singles, as well as many cast albums and performs regularly in her own concert act. Peters also continues to act in films and on television, where she has been nominated for three Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, winning once. Peters is particularly noted for her starring roles in stage musicals, including Song and Dance, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun, and Gypsy, becoming closely associated with composer Stephen Sondheim.

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Steve Martin
Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.

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Comedy
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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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