Slapstick comedy’s history is measured in centuries. Shakespeare incorporated many chase scenes and beatings into his comedies, such as in his play The Comedy of Errors. Building on its later popularity in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century ethnic routines of the American vaudeville house, the style was explored extensively during the “golden era” of black and white, silent movies directed by figures Mack Sennett and Hal Roach and featuring such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone Cops, the Three Stooges, and Chespirito. Slapstick is also common in Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies. Silent slapstick comedy was also popular in early French films and included films by Max Linder and Charles Prince.
Slapstick continues to maintain a presence in modern comedy that draws upon its lineage, running in film from Buster Keaton and Louis de Funès to Mel Brooks to the television series Jackass movies to the Farrelly Brothers, and in live performance from Weber and Fields to Jackie Gleason to Rowan Atkinson. Slapstick has remained a popular art form to the present day.
Infoplease Definitions of slapstick.
Merriam-Webster Definitions of slapstick.
Slapstick Encyclopedia Review of video with information on the history of slapstick.
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