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January 2010
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Using Parody to Get Laughs

What is parody? It is a literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristics or style of another author or an artistic work for comic effect or ridicule. It is used to comment on or poke fun at an original work, the artist, or artistic style. It is a humour device used in all types of comedy—-from stand-up comedy to comedy films. Parody is also called a “send-up” or “spoof.”

In literature, the writer uses parody as a form of comic mockery or satirical criticism. The writer imitates the style and conventions of a particular writer to expose the weaknesses of the writer’s style or content. A writer can also use parody to mock or ridicule a particular school of writers.

The screenwriter can use parody to satirize other film genres or films. This is called a parody film. Conventions used include stereotyping, jokes, mockery, and sarcasm. The film “Scary Movie” parodied the horror genre. The film “Blazing Saddles” parodied the western genre. The British comedy group Monty Python parodied King Arthur in “The Holy Grail.”

The screenwriter for a sitcom can also use parody, often as a form of social and political criticism. Parody has been used in “The Simpson’s” episodes. The popular show, “The Daily Show”, is a parody of the news broadcast. The Colbert Show is a parody of a talk show. Throughout its history, “Saturday Night Live” has parodied popular culture, current events, and politics.

Parody has been used in music videos to mock the musical style of a performer. Weird Al Yankovic parodied the performance of Michael Jackson in the 80s.

In summary, a writer uses parody to imitate an artist or artistic work, in order to produce a comic effect or mock or ridicule the artist or artistic work. Parody is a popular humour device that writers use in sitcoms, comedy films, sketch comedy, and stand-up comedy.



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