As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.

Lao Tzu

Image: Britannica

Commedia dell’arte is a comedic form of italian theatre which came into being during the 16th century and lasted till the 18th. This specific type of theatre had the usage of masks which played a significant part in the telling of the story on stage. Each actor had a specific mask and with each mask came certain characteristics. 

Some of the most memorable characters are Pantalone, Il Dottore and Arlecchino. The character of Pantalone for instance had the traits of an old merchant, typically one with wealth and this character’s mask usually had a hooked nose and prominent eyebrows. Similar to this character each character had their own mask which came with varying personality traits. Furthermore, this comedic form emphasised improvisation, and ensemble acting. 

Today, Commedia is known to be the inspiration for many forms of theater, such as opera, Shakespearean, etc. The largest influence perhaps comes from the famous character Arlecchino’s slap stick. The slap stick would insight laughter with the sound of someone being slapped. Slapstick is a popular form of comedy in modern Western culture. The Simpsons uses slapstick constantly; the comedic use of the sound ‘doh!’ has become an iconic part of modern society.