Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about comedic slapstick. For the science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut, see Slapstick. For the percussion instrument, see whip (instrument).
Slapstick is a type of comedy involving physical action. One classic piece of slapstick is the hapless slip on a banana peel. The style was explored extensively during the "golden era" of black and white, silent movies directed by Mack Sennett and Hal Roach and featuring such notables as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy the Keystone Kops, and the Three Stooges.
The style is derived from the Commedia dell'arte which employed a great deal of physical abuse and tumbling. The phrase comes from a device they used composed of two wooden slats which looked like a bat and which, when struck, produced a loud popping noise with very little force. This battacio, or 'slap stick' as it was called in English, allowed the actors to strike each other repeatedly while causing very little actual damage. It was a very early form of special effects.
In recent times, some have criticized violence in the media for encouraging harm. Slapstick films have not escaped negative attention.
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