Shakespeare – Module 2: Shakespeare’s Life, Influences and Craft – 4 of 5

Objective: To understand the conventions of the comedy genre.

We are going to be learning how Shakespeare made some of his plays so funny! No, that was not a joke – he genuinely did write about things other than people being very sad and broken-hearted! Your idea of what’s funny might not be the same as your teacher’s, admittedly, but there are some key features (or conventions) of Shakespearean comedies that you might actually recognise even in films and plays you see today…

Task 1: Watch the video below and bullet point the 3 main types of comedy used in Shakespeare’s plays.

Task 2: Can you list some real life examples of when someone or something made you laugh?

  • Through banter
  • Innuendo (saying something that suggests something naughty or unpleasant, without directly saying it)
  • Slapstick – being silly by falling over, pulling funny faces or generally being clueless

Below is a more detailed list of the comedy conventions Shakespeare used. You may like to make some brief notes about the techniques used by Shakespeare.

Task 3: Using what you have just learnt about the conventions of a comedy, write your own 100 word short story (about anything) and see how many of them you can squeeze into it! Then read it aloud to your family: did they laugh? If so, which comedy convention did the trick!?

Task 4: Try to learn the following key words and their definitions. Make flash cards or posters focusing on these key words. You could also draw pictures to help you remember them.

Convention: In literature, conventions are the defining characteristics, or must-haves, of a given genre.

Pun: a joke which is based on two words which sound similar but mean different things

Earthy humour: a kind of humour which involves the body and sex

Practical jokes: tricks played on people to annoy them or make them look silly

Slapstick: a kind of comedy which is based on clumsy and embarrassing actions and mild comic violence

Witty banter: amusing conversation

And that’s it for today! Well done.