Film Language Tag: slapstick

A comedy style emphasizing exaggerated physical, and often violent, humor, such as chases, pratfalls, and seemingly painful antics. The name derives from a type of paddle, originally called a batte, that was used during rough-and-tumble or knockabout comedy acts popular during the latter part of the 19th century and on into the vaudeville era. The slapstick consisted of two long, flat strips of wood joined at one end. When someone was hit with the slapstick, the two pieces of wood would strike each other with a sharp crack. This loud noise emphasized the physical gag for comic effect. A slapstick is featured prominently in the comedy stage acts presented during the film Scaramouche (1952), sometimes with the addition of black powder between the sticks to emphasize the crack and produce a puff of smoke. Kroon, R. W. A/V a to z: An encyclopedic dictionary of media, entertainment and other Audiovisual terms. McFarland, 2014.


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