Commedia dell'Arte

By Dominique Hanley-Leonard


What Makes Me Laugh

  • Embarassing others
  • Stupid acting
  • Mistakes
  • Jokes
  • Serious vs Stupid

Theatre Styles

Slapstick Comedy

- Knockout

- Physical Humour

Romantic Comedy

- Love

- Romance


- Tragedy


- Mocking Weaknesses in groups

- Ridiculing


Commedia dell'Arte

  • Commedia dell'Arte originates from Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on the streets and in markets in groups of at least ten performers.
  • The groups travelled throughout Italy and then Europe.
  • Commedia dell’Arte used many props including animals, food, furniture and lots more. It is a style of colourful comedy.
  • It is a form of popular theatre that emphasized ensemble acting; its improvisations were set in a firm framework of masks and stock situations which then arrived at a humorous climax.
  • Commedia dell'Arte translates to 'Comedy of Art' and is an improvised drama.
  • The performers could act more than one character by changing masks for each role.
  • Most players made their own masks to keep a traditional connection while having diversity.
  • The scenes kept the audience on the edge and added unexpected twists in. A typical scenario involved a young couple’s love being defeated by their parents.
  • The scenario used symmetrical pairs of characters: two elderly men, two lovers, two Zanni (servants who are clowns), a maidservant, a soldier and others.
  • Some of the stock characters were Arlecchino, Columbina, Pantalone, Isabella and more.

Stock Characters

  • Arlecchino
  • Colombina
  • Panalone
  • Isabella


Lazzi is the Italian word for comic accidents. It is improvised comic dialogue or action in the middle of the act unrelated to the plot. They were acrobatic and exaggerated.