Lou asked about the
phrase slapstick comedy.
It is a low form of
comedy in which the humor is predominantly physical—people slipping on banana
peels, getting doused with water, receiving a pie in the face, or unexpectedly
getting slapped with a loud whack.
While we associate it
with silent movie comedies, it goes back a couple of thousand years to
classical plays in which clowns were beaten with sticks to the delight of the
audience. The slapstick itself came into prominence when the character
Harlequin began to use it in 16th century commedia dell'arte.
The slapstick was, quite
literally, a stick used to slap a comic character. Consisting of two flat
pieces of wood (laths) joined at one end, it made a very loud sound without
actually hurting the actor.
[a musician with a slapstick appears ca.1:08]
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