What is Meaning Of Screwball Comedy: Definition and Example

What is Meaning Of Screwball Comedy Definition and Example

Hey there, comedy enthusiasts! Ever wondered what is the meaning of screwball comedy? Well, you’re in for a treat.

In this article, Rachelparris dives into the world of Screwball Comedy, where wit, zany plots, and social satire collide. Get ready to unravel the secrets behind this hilarious genre and find out why it’s been a fan favorite for decades.

What is Definition of Screwball Comedy?

Screwball comedy, a unique genre that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, is a delightful blend of social satire, fast-paced dialogue, and zany plot twists.

This genre, which originated in film and later transitioned to television, is characterized by its witty, sarcastic dialogue, unusual events, sight gags, and identity reversals.

It masterfully blends the sophisticated with the wacky, creating a comedic relief that has captivated audiences for decades.

What is Definition of Screwball Comedy?

Screwball Comedy Overview

Type of Screwball Comedy

Alright, let’s break this down. Screwball comedy isn’t your regular slapstick or romantic comedy. Nope, it’s got its own vibe. It’s a clever mix of farce, slapstick, and even a little bit of romantic comedy.

You know, that battle of the sexes vibe? Yeah, that’s it! It’s all about fast-paced banter and those ‘did they really just say that’ moments.


Fast-paced, overlapping repartee, ludicrous settings, escapist themes, physical fight of the sexes, disguise and masquerade, and plot lines including courting and marriage are all elements of screwball comedy.

Screwball Comedy Overview


One of the defining features of screwball comedies is their emphasis on social satire. They often portray the upper class in a humorous light, highlighting their imperfections and poking fun at their lifestyle.

This was particularly relevant during the Great Depression when these films provided much-needed escapism for audiences grappling with economic hardships.

The genre also stands out for its innovative use of dialogue. The verbal dueling in screwball comedies is fast-paced, precisely timed, and filled with witty sarcasm.

This serves as a replacement for physical displays of sexual tension, adding another layer of complexity to the narrative.


Remember Bringing Up Baby? Yeah, that’s the one everyone talks about. It’s like the OG of screwball comedies. Then there’s It Happened One Night by Frank Capra, known as the granddaddy of them all. And let’s not forget Road to Singapore for some tropical antics.

Now, if you’re into more modern stuff, there’s Borat and Wedding Crashers – those have some serious screwball vibes. Oh, and TV shows? Arrested Development and The Big Bang Theory totally nailed that screwball essence.

Comparison with other Comedy Genres

Unlike generic romantic comedies that emphasize love, screwball comedies focus on a humorous spoofing of love.

The genre often features romantic attachments between members of different social classes, as seen in films like It Happened One Night (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936). The screwball comedy also includes elements of farce, situation comedy, slapstick, and bedroom farce.

Compared to other comedy genres, screwball comedies stand out for their unique characteristics.

For instance, stand-up comedy involves comedians telling anecdotes and jokes with punchlines to amuse their audiences, while sketch comedy involves short, humorous plays performed by a group of comic actors.

On the other hand, screwball comedies are film-based and rely heavily on plot twists, fast-paced dialogue, and unconventional situations for humor.

The screwball comedy genre also differs from the broader comedy genre, which is a dramatic performance with a light or humorous tone that depicts amusing incidents and triumph over adversity.

While both genres aim to entertain and amuse, screwball comedies specifically satirize traditional love stories and often feature a dominant female character who challenges the masculinity of the male central character.

In terms of structure, Aristotle divides comedy into three categories: farce, romantic comedy, and satire.

Screwball comedy can be seen as a blend of these categories, incorporating elements of farce through its absurd and highly improbable events, romantic comedy through its focus on love and relationships, and satire through its critique of social norms and conventions.

In conclusion, screwball comedies offer a unique blend of humor, romance, and social commentary, setting them apart from other comedy genres.

Their emphasis on fast-paced dialogue, unusual plot twists, and social satire make them a distinctive and enduring part of the comedic landscape.

FAQs about Screwball Comedy

FAQs about Screwball Comedy

What sets Screwball Comedy apart from other genres?

Screwball comedy puts the emphasis on a funny spoofing of love, while the more traditional romantic comedy ultimately accents love.

Other elements include fast-paced, overlapping repartee, farcical situations, escapist themes, physical battle of the sexes, disguise and masquerade, and plot lines involving courtship and marriage.

Who are some notable directors or actors in Screwball Comedy?

Directors like Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch, and Howard Hawks made many great screwball comedies. Notable actors include Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart.

What are some classic Screwball Comedy films?

Classic screwball comedies include Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, To Be or Not to Be, His Girl Friday, and The Mad Miss Manton.

How did Screwball Comedy originate?

Screwball comedy originated in the 1930s and 1940s in film and later in television. It arose largely as a result of the major film studios’ desire to avoid censorship by the increasingly enforced Hays Code.

How did Screwball Comedy get its name?

The term screwball was used in baseball to describe an oddball player or any pitched ball that moves in an unusual or unexpected way. These characteristics also describe performers in screwball comedy films.

What is the role of social class in Screwball Comedy?

Class issues are a strong component of screwball comedies.

The upper class are often represented as idle, pampered, and having difficulty coping with the real world, while lower-class people can pass themselves off as upper class or insinuate themselves into high society with relative ease.


There you have it, folks! Screwball Comedy Comedy, a timeless genre that’s all about those witty comebacks, unexpected turns, and rib-tickling moments. Whether it’s the classics or the latest sitcoms, this genre is sure to leave you grinning from ear to ear. Get ready for a hilarious rollercoaster of laughs! Thank you for reading.

Looking to broaden your comedy horizons? Dive into the list that follows.

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