7 types of stories: Comedy

The comedy mask.

The "Comedy" plot is one of the classic story archetypes identified by British author Christopher Booker in his book "The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories." "Comedy" plots centre around misunderstandings, mistaken identities, or confusing situations that create humorous scenarios. In these stories, the confusion or conflict is eventually resolved, leading to a happy ending.

These plots are common in many forms of comedy, from the plays of ancient Greece and the farces of medieval Europe, to modern sitcoms and romantic comedies. They serve to create a lighthearted and entertaining story that often carries a deeper message about human nature and society.

Common tropes and elements

  1. Misunderstandings and Deceptions: A lot of the humor in comedies arises from misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and characters deceiving each other, either for good or ill intentions.
  2. Complex Plots and Subplots: Comedies often have intricate plots with various subplots that interweave and eventually come together in a resolution that ties up all the loose ends.
  3. Love Interests and Romantic Entanglements: Love is a central theme, often presented in a light-hearted way with characters falling in and out of love, sometimes with the wrong person before finding their true match.
  4. Disguises and Mistaken Identity: Characters often disguise themselves for various reasons, leading to mistaken identities and complicating the romantic entanglements.
  5. Clever Servants and Foolish Masters: A common trope involves savvy servants who are smarter than their masters, helping to drive the plot forward through their own initiative and wit.
  6. Social Commentary: Comedy can often be used as a vehicle for social commentary, poking fun at societal norms, classes, and human folly.
  7. Verbal Wit and Puns: Dialogue in comedies is often characterized by wit, wordplay, and puns, which contribute to the light-hearted atmosphere.
  8. Satire and Parody: Comedies can include elements of satire, parodying certain aspects of society, politics, or human behavior.
  9. Happy Endings: Comedies usually end on a happy note, with conflicts resolved, characters reunited, and misunderstandings cleared up.
  10. Celebration: The end of the story often coincides with a celebration, such as a feast or, more commonly in Shakespearean comedy, a marriage or multiple marriages.
  11. Reversal of Fortune: Characters in comedies often experience a reversal of fortune, either from bad to good or good to bad, though in the end, the tone is uplifting.
  12. Use of Stock Characters: Comedies often employ stock characters like the miserly father, the braggart soldier, or the pedantic scholar, each representing a certain type of personality or societal role to be mocked or celebrated.
  13. Exaggeration and Farce: Situations may be exaggerated for humorous effect, and the plot may border on the ridiculous, pushing the bounds of believability to create humor.

Example stories to draw inspiration from

This plot type is most common in the comedy and romance genres, but blends well with other genres.

  1. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare: This play intertwines several romantic tales set in a magical forest, with fairies and mistaken identities adding to the comedic elements.
  2. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen: While not a comedy in the modern sense, the novel features witty dialogue, satire, and misunderstandings in the romantic entanglements of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
  3. "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde: This play is a satire of Victorian society and revolves around two men who use the same pseudonym, "Ernest," for their on-the-sly activities, leading to a series of humorous situations.
  4. "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding: A modern retelling of "Pride and Prejudice," this novel follows Bridget Jones through her personal and romantic mishaps, told with humor and wit.
  5. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams: This science fiction comedy follows Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman, through space after Earth is destroyed, with a humorous take on life, the universe, and everything.
  6. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (film): This romantic comedy centers on a Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man, and the cultural comedy that ensues as their families merge.
  7. "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare: Another Shakespearean comedy, this play focuses on two pairs of lovers and the humorous circumstances that surround their journey to the altar.
  8. "Legally Blonde" (film): The story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrolls in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend and, in the process, discovers her potential as a lawyer, with many comic situations along the way.