The Comedy Genre

What makes something a Comedy?

Comedy is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is humor. In comedies the aim is to make audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. People watch comedies to escape from reality and forget about tomorrows worries. When people watch a comedy that makes you laugh, it is proven that just by you laughing you can ease and soothe the amount of stress you are experiencing. So if you are ever feeling down or too stressed out maybe put on a comedy, to help bring your mood back up, because “laughter is the best medicine.”

Lighting, Camera and Sound

Comedies often utilize a lot of soft lighting, which are interned to give off a warm feeling to the audience. This contrasts what we see in other genres, for example in horrors they often utilize hard lighting, which give a harsh shadowy feel. The soft lighting in comedies is even used in scenes where it is dark to show less shadows, this is to maintain a cheerful feeling even though it is dark.

If we look at the trailer for a horror the film The Conjuring.

Then we compare it to a trailer for a comedy as seen in The Hangover.

We notice straight away that in The Conjuring its much darker and gives us a more uneasy feeling viewing it. Where as the trailer for The Hangover has shots that always had a lot of bright lighting giving a more cheerful viewing experience.

In comedies you’ll find that the camera movements tend to be more at a slower pace unlike in horror films where the camera tends to be more quicker in motion. For horror films they use quick shots and film motion scenes at a quicker pace to make the spectator feel uneasy and uncomfortable. But in comedies the spectator is not meant to feel uncomfortable. Hence you’ll find that there will be less quick shots used and that the pacing is more slower to create comfort for audience to prime them for laughter.

Sound is a very valuable technique used in comedies. Diegetic sound like dialogue has to be very clear and presented well so that it is easy to understand for the audience so they can laugh at it. Non-diegetic sound can also be used to enhance a comedy, sound that is edited in can add emphasis to what we see on screen, which induces laughter, one of the more common approaches to sound in comedies is studio laughter and sound effects. The music in comedies tend to be more playful and upbeat. This contrasts what we see in other genres, in the horror genre there tends to be very little music played and they usually incorporate a forceful violin screech to create discomfort.

Here is an image of the live audience on the set of The Big Bang Theory. The live audience is what gives the show its studio laughter, which is used to emphasise a lot of the comedy in the show.


This is referred to as everything that is visible to the audience either on screen or in a image. This includes the choice of props, costume location, make up, lighting and decor. All these elements will be specifically chosen to convey to the audience of what genre they are watching. For example in a comedy the setting is usually in really bright places that have a welcoming atmosphere. Locations that are known for social events are often used. Props in a comedy tend to be instruments that may inflict pain on a character in a comedic sense. Props are used heavily in slapstick comedies because it concentrates mainly on the physical side of comedy.


A good example of all these film techniques coming together to create a comedy can be seen in the trailer for the film This is The End.

Even though the film is suppose to be about the world ending, its because of the music, dialogue, lighting and the use of other camera techniques that let’s the audience know that it is actually meant to be a comedy.

Sub genres of Comedies

  • Action Comedy (Bad Boys, 21 Jump Street)
  • Comedy Horror (Evil Dead, Scary Movie)
  • Comedy Thriller (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
  • Slapstick films (The Three Stooges)
  • Black Comedy (Keeping Mum, Burn After Reading)
  • Science-fiction Comedy (Back to the Future, Ghostbusters)
  • Military Comedy (M*A*S*H, Tropic Thunder)

For a complete list of sub genres, including comedies click here

And that’s a wrap

Comedies are a very important part to many peoples lives as it can relieve stress from just making you laugh or cheer you up if you were feeling down. There are many ways that a film can employ to show it’s a comedy and depending on what elements are used and how they are used will depend on the type of comedy that is being portrayed. The main ways a comedy is shown to us is through the use of soft lighting, non-chaotic camera shots, up beat music and sound. Comedies are also portrayed to us though the use of composition, which is how everything is organized on the screen; whether it by the location, props, costumes and make up.

How about a quick laugh before we say goodbye

By Krishneel, Kimmy, Fion, Sandy and Tom



Comedy film. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Melinda Smith and Jeanne Segal. (2016). Laughter is the Best Medicine. Retrieved from

11thhourcomedy. (2014). Benefits of Watching Comedy Shows. Retrieved from

Benjamin Bloomberg. (2013). Comedies vs Horrors. Retrieved from

Danielle Page. (2013). Genre and conventions of comedy. Retrieved from

Luke Peeples. (2013). Differences in Film Form. Retrieved from

Katy Evans. (2014). Romantic Comedy Mise-En-Scene. Retrieved from


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