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Thalia, muse of comedy, holding a comic mask - detail of "Muses Sarcophagus", the nine Muses and their attributes; marble, early second century AD, Via Ostiense - Louvre

In a modern sense, comedy (from the Greek: κωμῳδία, kōmōidía) refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups or societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old". A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.

Satire and political satire use comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of their humor. Parody subverts popular genres and forms, critiquing those forms without necessarily condemning them.

Other forms of comedy include screwball comedy, which derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters, and black comedy, which is characterized by a form of humor that includes darker aspects of human behavior or human nature. Similarly scatological humor, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating social conventions or taboos in comic 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 that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love.

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Trey Parker, one of the writers of the episode & South Park co-creator
"Trapped in the Closet", the twelfth episode of the ninth season of the Comedy Central series South Park, originally aired on November 16, 2005. The plot of the episode centers on the South Park character Stan Marsh, as he joins Scientology in an attempt to find something "fun and free". After the discovery of his surprisingly high "thetan levels", he is recognized as the reincarnation of the founder of the church, L. Ron Hubbard. Tom Cruise, who is featured in the episode, reportedly threatened "to back out of his Mission: Impossible III promotional duties if Viacom didn’t pull a repeat of the episode." Though the episode was originally scheduled for rebroadcast in March 2006, the episode "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls" was shown instead. Comedy Central representatives stated this change was made as a tribute to Isaac Hayes, however South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone thought otherwise. Stone and Parker issued a satirical statement saying they were "servants of the dark lord Xenu". Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quit the show shortly before the start of the tenth season. The reason for his departure, as reported by Matt Stone, was due to his faith in Scientology and this episode, which he claimed to feel was very offensive. "Trapped in the Closet" was nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) category in July 2006. The episode was featured among Comedy Central's list of "10 South Parks That Changed The World", spoofed by Conan O'Brien in the opening segment of the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, and mentioned in the Scientology critique film, The Bridge.

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Girl smiling
Credit: C. Szeto

In physiology, a smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles most notably near both ends of the mouth. The smile can be also around the eyes. Among humans, it's customarily an expression of pleasure, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it can be known as a grimace. There is much evidence that smiling is a normal reaction to certain stimuli and occurs regardless of culture. Happiness is most often the cause of a smile.

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Selected biography

David Schwimmer
David Lawrence Schwimmer (born November 2, 1966) is an American actor and director of television and film. Born in New York, he moved to Los Angeles at the age of two. Several years later, he began his acting career performing in school plays at Beverly Hills High School. In 1988 he graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and speech. After graduation, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company. For much of the late-1980s, he lived in Los Angeles as a struggling, unemployed actor. He appeared in the television movie A Deadly Silence in 1989. He then appeared in a number of television roles, including L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, NYPD Blue, and Monty in the early-1990s. Schwimmer later gained worldwide recognition for playing Ross Geller in the situation comedy Friends. Aside from appearing in television, he starred in his first feature film The Pallbearer (1996), which was followed by roles in Kissing a Fool (1998), Six Days Seven Nights (1998), Apt Pupil, and Picking Up the Pieces (2000). He was then cast in the War miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). Following the series finale of Friends in 2004, Schwimmer landed the role of the titular character in the 2005 drama Duane Hopwood. Other film roles include the computer animated film Madagascar (2005), the dark comedy Big Nothing (2006), the thriller Nothing But the Truth (2008), and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008). Schwimmer made his London stage debut in the leading role in Some Girl(s) in 2005, for which he received critical reviews. In 2006 he made his Broadway debut in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Schwimmer made his directorial debut with the 2008 comedy Run Fatboy Run.

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Eric Idle
The difference between English and American humour is $150 a minute.

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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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