Definition of comedy in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Professional entertainment consisting of jokes and sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.

    ‘a cabaret with music, dancing, and comedy’
    ‘the show combines theatre with the best of stand-up comedy’
    • ‘It was basically sketch comedy, some of it acted well.’
    • ‘In the beginning, what led you to get on stage and do comedy without telling jokes?’
    • ‘As a stand-up comedian I had a love of the history of stand-up comedy and entertainment.’
    • ‘On stage, employees were singing and performing comedy sketches while their colleagues in the audience wolfed down dim sum and applauded uproariously.’
    • ‘Listen, when you began this film did you have any idea that you'd wind up with such insight into the craft, or the culture of professional comedy?’
    • ‘Being a comedian is truly a great profession; when stand-up comedy is done right, there are few things in this life that can match it.’
    • ‘He promptly ordered his band to perform improv stand-up comedy to entertain the crowd during this moment of unexpected difficulty.’
    • ‘Describing comedy, especially sketch comedy, in a review is terribly difficult.’
    • ‘The female menopause, with its hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings, offers rich pickings for jokes and comedy sketches.’
    • ‘There will be a full programme of entertainment, including music from nine bands and musicians, comedy sketches, dancing and karaoke.’
    • ‘The show wavers between drama, sketch comedy, and sheer improvisation, but it would be best to simply qualify it as a game.’
    • ‘Sketch comedy, improvisation, stand-up and much more will be performed in this intimate venue on Friday, September 24.’
    • ‘From boyhood, he believed with a ‘tunnel vision’ intensity, that he had the quick-brained capacity to succeed in professional comedy.’
    • ‘It has set a new standard for televised sketch comedy and stand-up.’
    • ‘It's a collection of various kinds of audio comedy and sketches and so forth.’
    • ‘The form is bizarre, like a cabaret circa 1962 crossed with sketch comedy and performance art.’
    • ‘This sophisticated stand-up comedy confronts and surprises audiences by shattering myths about deafness and cross-cultural love.’
    • ‘They involved live music, interviews, stand-up comedy and video, and had been regularly attracting an audience of a couple of hundred people.’
    • ‘The Christchurch gang show is one of the longest running in Britain, and features a cast of 60 who will present an extravaganza of songs, sketches and stand-up comedy.’
    • ‘I'd like to see the church embrace all forms of media including pop culture mediums like television, sketch comedy, and movies.’
    light entertainment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]A film, play, or broadcast programme intended to make an audience laugh.
      [as modifier] ‘a comedy film’
      • ‘Nominated for 10 Academy awards, it won 4, and was as important a film as a comedy can be.’
      • ‘This audio track turns the film into a real comedy instead of an unintended one.’
      • ‘The film, a black-and-white comedy about a rock band going AWOL in northern Ontario, was finished just in the nick of time.’
      • ‘This film is a comedy about people interested in these matters - it's funny but it also takes things quite seriously.’
      • ‘She did not look out of place in a comedy film, but neither did she seem completely comfortable.’
      • ‘Setting the play in the 1930s, she took her inspiration primarily from classical Hollywood screwball comedies and films noirs.’
      • ‘While it's true I may have chuckled a few times, I can't call this film a comedy.’
      • ‘Like many great screwball comedies, the film keeps rolling and rolling on pure, uninhibited energy.’
      • ‘The themes for this year's programme run from animated to experimental films; from comedies to stories of loss.’
      • ‘The industry already adjusts budgets to deal with films, like talky comedies, that aren't expected to play well overseas.’
      • ‘As it stands, the film is a breezy comedy that ranks as one of his lighter works.’
      • ‘I had already explored the documentary world at the limits of fiction, and, in fictional films, had explored comedies and thrillers.’
      • ‘So what Indian film-makers did was to adapt Hollywood musicals and comedies with their own storylines to create films that were pure entertainment.’
      • ‘A lot of people actually preferred that because it was more of a horror film than a dark comedy.’
      • ‘Whether it's action films or screwball comedies, most Hollywood movies focus on beautiful young characters.’
      • ‘The film is a comedy, but rarely relies on outright gags for laughs.’
      • ‘She is best remembered for two films, both comedies.’
      • ‘I see the film as a black comedy - all of the abuses in the world we live in are mirrored in the silly little world of wine.’
      • ‘Recent comedy films that reflect on growing up in the 1980s can be seen within a tradition of screen representations of past youth.’
      • ‘There's actually enough dark humor to almost make this film a black comedy.’
    2. 1.2The style or genre represented by comedy films, plays, and broadcast programmes.
      ‘the conventions of romantic comedy have grown more appealing with the passage of time’
      • ‘If you lean towards the romantic comedy / light entertainment side, stay away.’
      • ‘The romantic comedy has to be one of the toughest genres to crack.’
      • ‘However, working within genre films, whether horror, high-school or romantic comedy, is a more confining situation.’
      • ‘Despite those rewards, it is unlikely that single camera comedy will overtake traditional comedy as the genre's leading format.’
      • ‘Within the genre of romantic comedy, so many female leads spend entire films longing and pining for the ‘right one’.’
      • ‘It's a fresh departure from the action and adventure genre into comedy but we're confident it'll work.’
      • ‘I saw this much more as a limitation of/trope from the romantic comedy genre in general.’
      • ‘In the traditional romantic comedy style, he walks the line between romantic lead and comedic lead.’
      • ‘Romantic comedy is a genre mainly comprised of sappy, syrupy fare with few risks and fewer surprises.’
      • ‘May their sizzle never fizzle should be the opening prayer in this mixed genre film that careens wildly from romantic comedy to big bang action movie.’
      • ‘He shows such critical and probing intensity that he might well push the film beyond the genre of romantic comedy.’
      • ‘The main themes this year include comedy, genre cinema, historical and political works, the search for identity and, of course, love.’
      • ‘He has sold short stories in a range of genres, including romantic comedy, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.’
      • ‘He has sold short fiction in a range of genres from horror to romantic comedy, and back again.’
      • ‘Regardless of the genre, comedy, drama, action, what is one secret that makes for an excellent movie trailer?’
      • ‘To the dismay of its critics and the delight of its fans, romantic comedy is a formula genre.’
      • ‘The script and dialogue writers have kept essential logic and reasoning and the basic distinctions between comedy and farce far away from viewers' sensibility.’
      • ‘In true romantic comedy style, it tries so very hard to be a feel-good film.’
      • ‘It respects the genre of romantic comedy while adding a unique flavor.’
      • ‘Hardwick acknowledges that moving from romantic comedy / relationship drama to the action genre is a departure for him.’
      • ‘This mix of ancient and modern stories lets him vary his theatrical styles from knockabout comedy and storm effects to touching monologues and ethnic songs.’
      light entertainment
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The humorous or amusing aspects of something.
      ‘advertising people see the comedy in their work’
      • ‘Because after all, a very serious subject like war was getting treated with comedy, as a sit-com, after all.’
      • ‘Much of the comedy is improvised, giving willing punters a chance to join in the fun, and those less willing a chance to simply sit back and watch.’
      • ‘Yet she clearly relishes creating comedy from situations which, on one level, are deeply tragic.’
      • ‘The comedy throughout the film is similarly cruel and misogynistic.’
      • ‘Tickets are £5 apiece and I am told that despite the relatively obvious macabre aspects of the plot, there is some comedy involved.’
      • ‘Put comedy into your commute by listening to humorous books on tape.’
      • ‘I think they could tone the comedy down slightly and try and promote him as an accomplished athlete who can get it done in the ring as well as talk a good game.’
      • ‘He simply wrote himself into a corner, cranking up the tension and comedy of the situation to a peak he didn't have the imagination to surmount.’
      • ‘Far from being bored with the work by this time, they all seem to revel in it, creating the comedy through their characters' utter seriousness.’
      • ‘The physical comedy in the bar scene alone is worth the price of admission.’
      • ‘McCall Smith deals in the comedy of character, rather than in farce.’
      • ‘Halfway home, the film bends to formula and delves into melodrama as it tones down the comedy.’
      • ‘This ending is typical of the series in its combination of crudity, cruelty, and revenge, and in the physical knockabout character of its comedy.’
      • ‘The physical comedy is toned down a bit this time to make room for ensemble scenes.’
      • ‘You need the people around you to create situations that generate comedy, and you need to be able to recognize it when it comes.’
      humour, fun, funny side, comical aspect, funniness, ludicrousness, absurdity, absurdness, drollness, farce
      View synonyms
  • 2A play characterized by its humorous or satirical tone and its depiction of amusing people or incidents, in which the characters ultimately triumph over adversity.

    ‘Shakespeare's comedies’
    • ‘What makes a Shakespearean play a comedy or a tragedy?’
    • ‘This pointed failure to incorporate all the major characters into a comedy's marriage plot recurs in the works of the remaining two authors in this volume.’
    • ‘No authorial comment has been more widely noted than the request of Chekhov that his plays be performed as comedies.’
    • ‘It stuck to its well-tried popular repertory of melodramas, comedies, and musicals, though both theatres scheduled touring opera companies throughout the year.’
    • ‘It allowed us to play on the elements of tragedy, drama, comedy, farce, and it allowed us to explore many, many levels.’
    • ‘And this being one of Shakespeare's comedies, rather than tragedies, all's well that ends well!’
    • ‘He saw comedies, tragedies, dramas, shows of acrobatics and clowning, all accompanied by fine music, and all this performed by a family of only twenty members.’
    • ‘In his celebration of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known comedies, he seems to agree with Orsino that music is the food of love.’
    • ‘Didn't Aristotle say that characters in tragedies are better than us and characters in comedies are worse than us?’
    • ‘Most people think that William Shakespeare, who died in 1616, wrote three kinds of plays: comedies, tragedies and histories.’
    • ‘The play is a character-driven comedy but also becomes a paean to the joy that achieving even modest goals can bring.’
    • ‘Although he does not make any profound remarks, he seems to be the wisest person within all the characters in the comedy.’
    • ‘In the same period as Pascal, Molière's biting social comedies and tragedies reflected much beyond themselves in space and time.’
    • ‘Don Pasquale is not a slapstick farce, it is a comedy of character and relies on the audience observing the detailed interplay between the singers.’
    • ‘Just as the Fool is the wisest character in Shakespeare's comedies, so he pretends to be dim when he's being pin sharp.’
    • ‘Set in France in the 18th century the comedy sees Kate's character, Eloise, return to her former lover and father of her child, who is less than happy to see her.’
    • ‘More than most of Shakespeare's other comedies, Much Ado has a touch of tragedy about it and this production captures that element very well.’
    • ‘On stage he has played character roles in farces, pantomime, comedies and serious drama.’
    • ‘The byplay created by the argument over whether a comedy or a tragedy should be played fits the secrecy/revelation pattern.’
    • ‘Three utterly madcap men in tights and sneakers take the theatre by storm as they gallop through the tragedies, histories and comedies at a speed that will leave you gasping.’
    1. 2.1The dramatic genre represented by comedies.
      ‘satiric comedy’
      Compare with tragedy
      • ‘As she gears up for her latest dramatic role, Ramsahai has noted that local audiences love drama but most theatrical offerings in this country are in the comedy genre.’
      • ‘Playwright Marin Drzic was writing farce, satire and comedy here in the 16th century, and the city has had a thriving theatrical scene since then.’
      • ‘In the early eighteenth century, Ludvig Holberg wrote in a variety of forms, including satire and comedy.’
      • ‘The final play, Wroth's Love's Victory, is not only the latest of the three but also encompasses a very different genre: the pastoral comedy.’
      • ‘Every Man in His Humour, finished in late 1598, established him as a major writer of comedy and satire.’
      • ‘The play moves away from the comedy and romance genres, and moves into the world of writing.’
      • ‘Despite the undeniable influence of earlier models, Shakespearian comedy represents a distinctive dramatic category.’


Late Middle English (as a genre of drama, also denoting a narrative poem with a happy ending, as in Dante's Divine Comedy): from Old French comedie, via Latin from Greek kōmōidia, from kōmōidos comic poet, from kōmos revel + aoidos singer.