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What I mean is black comedy (or dark humour if you want) is a subgenre of comedy that consists to make light of otherwise serious topics (in other words, serious and horrible things played for laughs).

The opposite would be drama based around making dark of otherwise comical topics (in other words, funny and great things played for drama).

I would call that white drama/lighthearted tragedy.

Also, could you give some more or less famous examples, please? The only one I can think is Waiting For Godot (1953, Ireland/France, Samuel Beckett).

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  • This might be a good question for Literature SE, but I think it could potentially cross over here as well, especially since you are looking for examples to watch/read (?)
    – DWKraus
    Aug 18, 2021 at 21:25
  • You are answering the question in your title in the body of your question. Black Comedy v. White Drama and it makes what you'd like to know less clear than it could be.
    – EDL
    Aug 19, 2021 at 4:40

2 Answers 2

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Pollyanna:

I would argue that the true opposite of dark humor is shameless bright optimism as exemplified by the movie Pollyanna. from which we get the expression "a Pollyanna attitude." This genre takes the serious evils of the world and in a perfectly serious tone tells you that a positive attitude will allow you to overcome all harm and evil in the world. The works of Horatio Alger also qualify. While these styles of writing in their purest form are unpopular today, elements of them can be seen incorporated into numerous other stories where heroes overcome invincible odds and romance novels where the good person always ends up with a good life and happy marriage.

Cynicism is opposed by shameless optimism, humor by seriousness (which can border on absurd, but is serious nonetheless). I would argue that the dark and humorous elements of Waiting for Godot actually make it a dark comedy as well.

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  • I'm probably a bit late, but is it worth mentioning the 1913 novel (Eleanor H. Porter) and the 1920 Mary Pickford film as earlier sources for the expression? Dec 7, 2021 at 11:34
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere I was aware of the novel (was in the Wikipedia link) but didn't know about the earlier movie - thx!
    – DWKraus
    Dec 7, 2021 at 13:40
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Seems to me Farce may be the opposite. Black Comedy deals with serious subjects in a comedic manner, farce deals with ridiculous subjects in a serious manner; it is funny because of the deadpan delivery.

Monty Python presents the most examples; the Ministry of Funny Walks is a comedy skit that treats a ridiculous topic as if it is serious; there are rules and protocols for Funny Walks.

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