Commedia dell'Arte: Comedy of Professional Craftsmen

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Commedia dell’Arte is a traditional form of comedy meaning ‘comedy of professional craftsmen’. It is a form of drama that has been used and performed throughout the world as a style of drama. Commedia dell’Arte was immensely popular between 1550 and 1750 and was performed firstly in Italy and then quickly spread across Europe. It is a very crude, boisterous and irreverent form of drama. This essay will discuss the different styles of comedy commedia uses, a modern comedy containing the elements of commedia, the original characters of Commedia and the themes and structure within commedia. I have chosen to analyse the very successful, modern animated comedy, The Simpsons. The Simpsons is the perfect example of a modern comedy that possesses the characteristics of Commedia dell’Arte as it has very similar characters and scenarios. This term, we have only studied nine of the many stock commedia characters. These are Pantalone, Il Dottore, Il Capitano, Brighella, Arlecchino, Columbina, Flavio, Isabella and Tartaglia. Pantalone is a sleazy old man, who prides himself on his money. Pantalone is represented, in The Simpsons, as Mr. Burns. ll Dottore is always portrayed as a doctor or lawyer who talks a lot and makes generalisations, acting as though he knows everything. This character is depicted through Dr. Nick. Columbina is a deceiving maid who uses her charming looks and sexuality to get what she wants. This persona is shown through the character of Mrs. Krabappel. All of this clearly indicates that The Simpsons is a successful television show through its use of Commedia dell’Arte elements and depiction of stock characters. Commedia is not just a block form of drama with just one element, Commedia incorporates many different Italian styles such as lazzi, burle, satire and innuendo. Lazzi is a form of commedia which is an improvised comic dialogue or action. Lazzi may be used to fill in time or to ensure laughter throughout the show and is often repeated several...
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