The Theatre of the Absurd, or slapstick comedy, a popular dramatic genre with an interesting history! This covers the origins of Absurdism, some important names and a bit of background info.

Essay by TodMegCollege, UndergraduateA, October 2003

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Theatre of the Absurd

The Theatre of the Absurd was created in the 20th century, as the worlds most popular, though only metaphorically realistic, comedy style. The style that absurd comedy takes is usually based on an existentialist view of the world, and in the very early days of absurd comedy many existentialist philosophers, such as Svren Kierkegaard, utilised its growing popularity to get their (often anti-religion and considerably highly offensive) messages out to the world. For this reason, along with the fact that most absurdist pieces contain material which some would consider offensive, Theatre of the Absurd was never really allowed to reach its full potential until much more recently. However, the ideas which Kierkegaard created were carried on by numerous playwrights and especially by absurdist critic, Martin Esslin, mainly during the 1950's and 60's.

The actual term "absurd," or "absurdist" used in the theatrical sense spurns from French philosophical novelist Albert Camus, who in the 1940's described most human life and activity as being meaningless and absurd.

Most absurd comedy continues this idea, that existence is pointless, hence absurd comedy doesn't batter an eyelid at the concept of a main character dying, or some other method of non-standard utilisation of death, often taken completely light-heartedly, or sarcastically, or in some sort of wrong context. Of course, it doesn't always go as far as death, often the mere truth and decency that one expects to be followed though in a dramatic comedy is totally destroyed, often accidentally, and always in a bizarre manner. This happens because languages are played with, conversations become puns, and the truth becomes confused, and all the while action is being overplayed, underplayed, going backwards, forwards, too fast or too slow; the good guy and the bad guy switch or somebody with a trombone...