Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A boisterous form of comedy marked by chases, collisions, and crude practical jokes.
  • n. A paddle designed to produce a loud whacking sound, formerly used by performers in farces.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. physical comedy, e.g. slipping on a banana peel, exaggeratedly losing balance, walking into walls etc.
  • n. a pair of sticks tied together at one end and used to create a slapping sound effect for (1)

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a boisterous comedy with chases and collisions and practical jokes
  • adj. characterized by horseplay and physical action
  • n. acoustic device consisting of two paddles hinged together; used by an actor to make a loud noise without inflicting injury when striking someone

Etymologies

From slap + stick, the English translation of the batacchio. The slapstick was a pair of sticks tied together that made a loud noise when struck together, and was used by the comic character Harlequin in the commedia dell'arte. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We are playing improv games and working in slapstick — big picture issues.

    The Wisdom of Clowns

  • Sophisticated slapstick is difficult to achieve, and this is one of the finest success stories I can conjure.

    License request day: Rescues

  • I suppose the modrn version of slapstick is "Funny" Home Videos, and I guess there's an element of this here (ooh! what's going to happen next?!) but, being an illustration, without the moral quandary of filming your four year old setting himself on fire with the intention of sending the tape off to Carlton Television.

    Archive 2006-03-01

  • Most verbal jokes turn on either some kind of reversal of expectations or the harmless violation of taboo; slapstick is all about the appearance of injury without actual harm.

    When Is Hate Speech Funny?

  • Anyone who wants to protest that Jane is less deserving is more unpatriotic than she ever was, or just takes no delight in slapstick.

    Calamity Jane

  • It all adds up to another hilarious romp in Dorsey's unique style, one best described as slapstick-noir.

    Brandon Sun Online - Top Stories

  • I suppose it is Sasaki's constant cleaving to perpetual folly that lends his work so much of what we may call slapstick dignity.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • As you say it's about dialogue and there's slapstick, which is also intrinsically involved in the gore and the effects.

    The Hollywood News

  • His misadventures, which this time involve a female of his species who competes with him for the nut, recall the slapstick glory of the Looney Tunes.

    Film.com Movie Blog

  • Peterson's gift for comedy, namely slapstick, was so over-the-top with his melodramatic antics that in a few scenes he actually upstaged his dear old Mommie.

    BroadwayWorld.com Featured Content

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Comments

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  • That's a great story! What interesting parents you must have had!

    July 20, 2011

  • Bilby, you wouldn't want me to have a complex, would you?

    January 29, 2009

  • What's this banana cream pie doing here on the table, reesetee? I don't remember ordering one.

    January 29, 2009

  • Sionnach, that's wonderful! Your mother was one amazing woman (and your father clearly her true match). Thanks for posting this story. You've inspired me to reconsider acting on my own pie-in-the-face fantasy. :-)

    January 29, 2009

  • Fantastic :-)

    January 29, 2009

  • I hope my Wordie colleagues will indulge me and not be bothered by another family reminiscence (my mother would have been 85 next week; she's been on my mind a lot recently):

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    It's Sunday lunch. I'm in my mid teens, my sister in her late teens. It's probably summertime, since all four of us are at home for the weekend. We've had the delicious lamb, and everyone is looking forward to the lemon meringue pie, which my mother had made that morning. My father is starting to do that twitching thing he does when he's mentally already on the golf course. My sister and I each have a section of the Sunday paper, randomly reading out sentences or passages that catch our fancy. Not a lot of conversation, but it's a companionable kind of silence. In other words, totally normal.
    Out of the blue, my mother speaks:

    "Jack, you wouldn't want me to have a complex, would you?"
    "Of course not, dear", mumbled in a way that makes it clear he hadn't really listened to what she said.
    "What kind of complex?", (this from me)
    "Well", she explains, "I was watching some stupid slapstick picture on the TV last night, and it occurred to me that I never have as much fun as they seemed to be having. Then, when I was preparing lunch, I kept thinking of all the things I've never done. I'm starting to get a complex. Jack, you'd understand if I did something silly, just so as not to have a complex, wouldn't you?"
    He's listening now, but still hasn't figured out exactly where the danger lies.
    "Nobody wants you to have a complex about anything, lovey".

    And that was all the encouragement she needed. Her face a complicated mix of affection and glee, she lifts the lemon meringue pie and mashes it full force into my Dad's face, *just like on the TV*.
    Horrified silence. For once in our lives, my sister and I are dumbstruck. Then, in the driest tone imaginable, from my father: "Mmmmm. Lemon meringue. My favorite".

    And everyone dissolves into hysterics, giggling fiercely and uncontrollably for at least the next five minutes.

    January 29, 2009

  • Now thats funny! I love the charlie chaplin film where he trys to take advantage of the ugly girl...Blah!, good luck!

    December 7, 2006