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Comedy history

May 20, 2016 by 20chapmanh   

The first who did funny things now known as comedy started around 5000 years ago in Egypt. First they were just people who were called Dangas (African pygmies) that did things that will amuse the pharos and the royal family’s. They dressed like a egyptian god Bes a god who is known as a dance and battle goddess. So they were wore leopard skin clothes and wore strange masks. In other places such as China had a comedian known as Yu Sze which who was a clown of Ch’in Shih Huang-ti, who built the Great Wall of China. In Ancient greece there were also an interesting person who wore interesting looking short tunics which were grotesquely padded at the front and rear and knitted socks like tights. He had an exaggerated artificial phallus strapped around his loins. Also there were diffrent kinds of comedians in Roman as well. They were more upgraded then the greek clowns.


Turkey in about 1440 there was a well known clown who became a folk hero when he told people “tall” stories about him. His name was Nasr el-Din and he was famous for his cunning, naivety, buffoonery and shrewdness; he loved to score off other people and play practical jokes. This is when the records has started to be wrote down as more people understood the importance of comedy/clowning. By the 14th Century, the professional funnymen did there thing  in many Royal households by getting told to do it rather then doing it with the flow.


In the 1700’s the slap stick was made. This was imported from Italy which is known as Italian Commedia del’arte al improviso (professional improvised comedy). For this one the actors needed to improvise the play but based on a story line. These were usually simple theme lines and one example was about two lovers. Two young lovers are trying to elope and they are constantly thwarted by the girl’s father (Pantaloon) and his friend the Doctor (both old men). Skirmishing around this quartet are a number of extra characters, including soldiers (Scaramouche, the Captain) and servants, Zannis (hence our word Zany). By the time the pantomime arrived in Britain, Harlequin and Columbine were the two young lovers. The Harlequin was given a magic bat so that he and his lover could transform scenes magically to escape the mad chases and when he does that he slaps the stick. That is why these kind of acts are now called slapsticks.


Circus means ‘circle’ or ‘ring’ in Latin and this was a place where people see non-narrative and highly physical variety of performances which the people acted in the middle. As the centuries went by the acts has changed from cruel ones to the more light-hearted ones. The famous one for the ancient circus was the Circus Maximus which showed chariot racing and Colosseum or Coliseum which showed for lethal gladiatorial combat. The circus now is more like the ones that go around different places and move on after few days or weeks. But the roman ones were different from this and they were way more cruel. They were cruel because they made the slaves or the animals fight for there life but usually got killed in the end.



Philip Astley was the one that made the ‘circus’ a circus we call now. He went in to show business after returning from service in the French and Indian Wars of North America. His trained horses and agile riders performed equestrian tricks in a ring before a paying audience. This eventually turned in to dancing dogs and different comedys. Astley was the first to realise that a 42 metre circumference ring was the best measurement for a horse to canter around, when the performers can do there tricks on top of them. But then realized that that was not enough to entertain people so he decided to put more genre’s into the circus like clowns and other performers that could do tricks that most people can’t do. As more people started to develop more circuses there were more funny things created such as: modern Whiteface Principal Clown, the Boss Clown, in sequins and conical hat and graceful shoes.


As the years went by people did not feel much from the white face but there was one thing that came up that made the whiteface interesting again. That was the mime. A famous person is a french clown whose name is Perriot. Probably one of the most inspired and famous mimes is Frenchman Marcel Marceau, his clown being named “Bip”. He was really good with mime and with mime we don’t use our mouth. So how he over exaggerated the things he did was the thing that  happened. Another person who is famous for comedy is Charlie chaplin there is a video below to show how he is like.


Silent movie:


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