Characteristics of Comedy
There are many characteristics that make up a comedy. Characteristics such as mistaken identity, battle of the sexes, and jumping to conclusions are what set the comedic story apart from the tragedy. Within a comedy, no matter how much fault, and dismay may appear within the story, there always seems to be the classic ending of “…and they all lived happily ever after…” Comedies capture the viewer with a sense of compassion and love for the characters in the story. Each character has their own essence, to which they pertain a flaw of some sorts, which the audience can relate to. With the relation to characters there is defiantly a certain interest that is grabbed by the actors, which sucks the audience into the show.
Within the comedic play Much To Do About Nothing, Shakespeare portrays many of the characteristics of a comedy. One of these characteristics is mistaken identity. When it is thought that the lady Hero is dead, the offer for Claudio to marry Hero’s cousin is presented, yet Hero is playing a fictional character of her cousin. Claudio had mistaken her identity for that of her cousins. The plan is not known at all until it all unwraps at the end of the play when the supposed cousin takes off her veil. In a modern comedy, mistaken identity is usually more settle, and less drastic then a wedding. Such as in the movie Clerks, when the employee running the store (Dante) steps away from the counter, and asks his friend to watch the store. Then the Dante’s ex-girlfriend comes into the store and asks for him. Dante has been sweating her for so long and wants to get back together, and so does she. His friend (Randal) being ignorant tells her he went home to change or he’s in the back. She goes into the back of the store not to return until a few scenes later. Then she comes out from the dark back bathroom fulfilled, and out of breath to find Dante standing there talking to Randal. When she asks Dante how he got to the front of the store so fast, he replies what are u talking about. It ended up that she was in the bathroom with another man who had gone into the bathroom earlier. She had made love with this stranger thinking it was Dante. Mistaken identity can be quite drastic at times, and then again can be a dream come true.
It seems within every comedy there is a battle of the sexes, and a display of sure wit that is displayed between male and female. In Much To Do About Nothing, the battle of the sexes rages on constantly between the two characters Beatrice, and Benedict. They are constantly bickering, and fighting amongst each other. The fighting is more of a battle of wits more so then malicious fighting with foul words. Once Benedict enters the city, Beatrice seems to challenge him with sly remarks questioning his manhood. In response to these comments, Benedict seems to throw his rebuttal in with the same amount of wittiness as displayed from Beatrice. Although it seems, that the two hate each other, it is obvious that it is the classic case of the girl on the schoolyard hitting the boy because she likes him. To tie this scenario in with another story, it is possible to find a battle of the sexes within the Star Wars Trilogy. When Princess Leia and Han Solo bicker and fight all the time, it seems like they have a dislike for each other. Yet it is apparent that the two have an uncontrollable desire to want each other. Even though you can see that they are complete opposites, both of them play a game of tag with a battle of wits shared back and forth throughout the whole time that they know each other. Although the story of Star Wars does not seem like a comedy, it is not a tragedy. In separate movies it can be interpreted as a comedy for Star Wars (A New Hope), a tragedy for The Empire Strikes Back, and then a comedy for The Return of the Jedi. As a whole within the story, the ending holds all the water showing that because the main character did not die, the whole trilogy is a comedy as one. To furthermore disband Star Wars as being a tragedy, there is the situation that truly makes a story a comedy. The ending of Star Wars, like all comedies, ended with everyone living “happily ever after.” That statement truly defines a comedy. Comparing comedies from Shakespeare to comedies from Lucas shows that throughout the times, story basis has still remained the same.
Within a comedy there is also the factor of jumping to conclusions. In the movie Office Space, the main character, Michael seemed to jump to a big conclusion of whom his girlfriend had slept with in the past. Michael’s girlfriend had sex with a person named Lumburg. The man who had sex with Michael’s girlfriend had the last name Lumburg, which is also the last name of the person that Michael hates the most; His boss. Michael hates his boss with a passion. When he finds out that his girlfriend slept with a man named “Lumburg” in the past, he refers to him as “all that is unholy.” After he finds out, he confronts his girlfriend and breaks up with her, cause he hates his boss with a passion. Without knowing the first name of the man, Michael jumps to the conclusion that it is the same Lumburg that is his boss. In the end Michael finds out the truth, and gets back with his girl. Jumping to conclusions is very common within comedies. In the play Much To Do About Nothing, there are many conclusions that the characters came to without knowing the full facts. For instance, when Benedict places blame of Hero’s (fake) death upon Claudio. He does not know the full facts yet he jumps to the wrongful conclusion of this tragedy. Even though it seems like Claudio has much fault in the scandal, it is not at all his fault. Within modern day life it is not uncommon to find someone jumping to conclusions about someone, or a situation. Within the comedic sense it shows the ignorance of man, and how impatient we are to find out the truth. It seems as though through this characteristic of comedy, there is the reflection of man’s impatience, and how we grab the first possible answer without looking into it just to get an answer; the easiest answer.
All aspects and characteristics of comedy from the past can relate into characteristics of comedy form the present. Although stories and plots are different, the general formula to have a comedy remains the same throughout the ages. Relating these characteristics of the comedy Much To Do About Nothing, by Shakespeare, to comedies from the present is simple because every comedic story contains the same characteristics of a comedy. To be a comedy, a story must contain comedic characteristics. Without these characteristics, there would be no comedy, and with no comedy the world would frown.