Early modern humour

Indira Ghose

in Shakespeare and Laughter

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780719076923
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700983 | DOI:
Early modern humour

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This chapter focuses on changes in early modern humour. The first few decades of the professional theatre had been dominated by star comedians such as Dick Tarlton and Will Kemp. In the 1590s, tragedians took over. A shift in taste is discernible, away from the pratfalls and improvisational repartee of the early generation of comedians. Shakespearean clowns are largely replaced by wise fools, quibbles and puns take the place of malapropisms and scurrilous humour. A similar development might be traced in the burgeoning genre of jestbook literature. A closer look at Twelfth Night reveals that, in William Shakespeare's last romantic comedy, he incorporates many of the trends in laughter outlined so far.

Keywords: humour; theatre; comedians; clowns; Twelfth Night; William Shakespeare; jestbook literature; comedy; wise fools; laughter

Chapter.  16592 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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