Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes

Knockabout Comedy, or
Physical Humor

(see wit & humor)

silent comedian Charley Chaplin ("the Little Tramp") doing a slapstick "pratfall"


Oxford English Dictionary. Slapstick. 1. Two flat pieces of wood joined together at one end, used to produce a loud slapping noise; spec. such a device used in pantomime and low comedy to make a great noise with the pretence of dealing a heavy blow.

a slapstick

2. b. Knockabout comedy or humour, farce, horseplay.


Slapstick or physical comedy are often considered "low humor" in contrast to wit and sophisticated wordplay, but as the human body doesn't change from one generation or century to another, physical comedy or slapstick often ages better and doesn't decay as rapidly as wit and wordplay. (Words and their meanings or associations change rapidly.)