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Research Project – Topic Proposal
Slapstick & violence is a topic that examines violent physical comedy introduced to
theatres in the sixteenth century, also referred to as commedia dell’arte. In real life, any violence
or pain is not considered as something funny or to laugh about. Such actions would raise moral
questions of a person. However, if a person believed to be the weaker party hits or beats up, the
stronger party, people consider that to be amusing. But if it was the other way round people take
that to react angrily. However, when it comes to films and theatrical performances, violence can
be depicted as comical. Typically in movies and theatrical performances, sound effects from the
background are used to exaggerate the violence. In most cases, the viewers are aware the
violence is not real from the reactions of the victim.
In the 19th century, slapstick comedy filled the theatres. One thing that is clear from all
these is that the audience is aware that the act is not real, but in the course of the play, people
always think of the real consequences. However, these thoughts are still temporary after they see
the reaction of the victim or something funny at the end of a violent scene. Usually, the idea that
takes all that horrific thoughts in viewers’ minds is so small. One cannot help but wonder, why
are human beings have been attracted to violent scenes and comforted since the effects are not
real? However, is such exposure and normalization of violence ethical? What effects does this
have on the audience psychologically and emotionally? In this topic, I want to explore the
consequences and aspects that people find funny in films of Slapstick comedy.
In this research, I will use the qualitative research method. The data to be used will be
acquired from five primary sources; journals and a book. The (No pain no gain: The provocation
of laughter in slapstick comedy) is a journal which researches why Slapstick Comedy showcases
danger but people respond with laughter. The second article is (The three stooges and the
evolution of slapstick violence). This article analyses slapstick violent films and audience
reaction towards them.
The third article is a book titled (Slapstick and comic performance: Comedy and pain).
The book gives detailed information on audience reactions, examples of slapstick comedy, and
their effects on viewers as well. The fourth article is (The Ethics of Slapstick Humor), which
discusses some violent scenes, effects they have on people, and if they result in unethicality in
real life. The final article is (Knockabout and Slapstick: Violence and Laughter in NineteenthCentury Popular Theatre and Early Film) is a topic on the history of Slapstick comedy as a
genre, the performance style, and changes it went through in the 20th century.
Today, there are so many films that show violence, and the Slapstick and violence films
tend to beat the odds of time. One such show is ‘Mr. Bean’ and an endless list of cartoons people
watch. Despite depicting violence, the characters make it fun, thus giving them a comical twist.
Some of these actions would be horrifying to watch in real life. However, watching those makes
one laugh and stop caring about the consequences of the activities seen. Study shows what one
watches affects them psychologically. Carrying out this study help me in understanding this style
of performance better, its application, and effects to people’s day to day lives. As this style is
used in films even to date, understanding the consequences will help parents understand the
possible impacts of their young ones watching slapstick violent might experience.
In conclusion, the research will cover; ethicality of slapstick and violence and are there
any ethical consequences in the lives of viewers? Another issue is what the psychological effects
caused to one after watching Slapstick comedy are? Do these films normalize violence to
viewers? Why do people laugh after watching these violent scenes?
Academia.edu. (, 2010). No pain, no gain: The provocation of laughter in slapstick comedy.
Academia.edu – Share research. https://www.academia.edu/3207864/
Mathis-Lilley, B. (2012, April 16). The three stooges and the evolution of slapstick violence.
Peacock, L. (2014). Slapstick and comic performance: Comedy and pain. Springer.
Potthast, A. (2016). The Ethics of Slapstick Humor. Center For Teaching ExcellenceCenter for
Teaching Excellence. https://cte.ku.edu/sites/cte.drupal.ku.edu/files/docs/CTEprograms/
Walter Babiak, P. M. (2015). Knockabout and Slapstick: Violence and Laughter in NineteenthCentury Popular Theatre and Early Film. TSpace Repository. https://
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