What is Broad Comedy? (The Not-so-Subtle Types of Humor)

The most general definition of comedy is a literary, theatrical, cinematic, and television genre that operates on the register of humor. Born in Ancient Greek, it has become a genre that people of all ages love and enjoy. Many different types of comedy exist, but our focus today is broad comedy.

What is the purpose of broad comedy? How do we recognize it? And how does it work, and where have we seen it? Well, you are about to find all of that out.

In the continuation of this article, we will focus on broad comedy only, explaining it in great detail and giving examples so you can understand everything correctly. By the end of this article, you will learn all there is to know about broad comedy and how to spot it.

Let’s start!

broad comedy

Key Takeaways

Broad comedy is a particular type of comedy with the main focus on physically funny elements. It’s often over-the-top, not very subtle, and sometimes even indecent.

Some refer to it as absurd comedy, while others think it isn’t much different than slapstick. Still, broad comedy is definitely a type for itself.

What is Broad Comedy?

Before we get into the depths of broad comedy, you will need to understand the basics first.

The name itself means “general” (wide or broad) comedy. However, as we have mentioned earlier, broad comedy primarily focuses on those easy-to-understand, physical acts of humor that can make one laugh. It’s basically made for everyone so that people of all nationalities, cultural backgrounds, or all languages they speak can find this type of comedy hilarious.

What makes it different from all other comedy types is the ability to be understood and laughed at by almost everyone. While other comedies use puns, clever wordplay, or some advanced jokes, this type of comedy mostly creates physical situations that can seem funny.

Simple examples of this are falls, banana slips, or stepping on a rake.

It’s inevitable to mention that broad comedy is sometimes called slapstick or burlesque. And indeed, if we take a look at some old slapstick movies, we can see that there are a lot of similarities to today’s broad comedy. However, slapsticks today tend not to use the same tools to create funny scenes. Here is a quick example from The Simpsons:

How to Recognize Broad Comedy?

As we have mentioned earlier, the name broad itself says that this type of comedy is created with the sole purpose of being for wide audiences. Therefore, when you see broad comedy, you can easily recognize it, as it has many elements that feel “natural” or “easy” to laugh at. It doesn’t include complex innuendos, sarcasm, or clever punchlines.

Therefore, broad comedy uses tools to create some physical accidents that can be funny to mass audiences. A pie in the face, banana slips, and others are just basic examples of that, but this comedy can go a bit deeper.

It can even use wordplay to make the audience laugh. Still, that wordplay must be well-known to everyone, or it won’t be categorized under broad comedy.

Either way, the easiest way to spot this type of comedy is to ask yourself whether you think the scenes you are seeing are made for the masses or only to be understood by people who have background knowledge on the given matter.

Broad Comedy Examples – Charlie Chaplin & Mr. Bean

Now that we have seen the basics of broad comedy and its elements, it’s time to give some great examples. And probably two of the most popular broad comedians are Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean. 

In the odd case you are unfamiliar with the name, Charlie Chaplin was the first superstar of the 20th century and a pioneer of cinematography. He is known as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, as he created and starred in some of the most iconic silent movies ever made.

He first appeared in front of the audience in his six-minute movie Kid’s Auto Races in Venice. He was an actor and director and is considered one of the greatest comedians of all time.

Charlie’s movies aren’t the only example of broad comedy, but they certainly are among the most popular ones. Many shows and movies nowadays have subtle elements of the comedy Charlie Chaplin popularized decades ago. 

Another great example is Mr. Bean. Now, Mr. Bean is, as some call him, the new-age Charlie Chaplin, as he somewhat uses the same technique to make his fans laugh. Adapted even in the form of cartoons, Mr. Bean still has many fans worldwide who enjoy watching his movies and cartoons.

In the movies, Bean is often portrayed as a not-so-clever man who doesn’t say a word but still makes the audience burst out into laughter. His actions are what make him funny, and he often ends up being embarrassed, lost, or unaware of the things that are happening to him.

Currently, there are two Mr. Bean movies, one filmed in 1997 and the other in 2007. Besides that, he has a cartoon and a tv show which are also widely popular. They have been a massive hit in the cinematic world, as people of all ages love them!

Your Turn

Now that we are done with the informational part of this blog, it’s finally time to hear what your thoughts are:

Do you like broad comedy? If you do, do you have a favorite show or a movie that uses this type of comedy?

Don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comment section down below. We are dying to read your thoughts!

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