City Comedy

City comedy, also called Citizen Comedy, is a common genre of Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline comedy on the London stage from the last years of the 16th century to the closing of the theaters in 1642. Some usual meanings of the term include:

  • Any English comedy, typically written during the reign of James I (1603-24) set in London and depicting ordinary London life.
  • London comedies that are specifically satirical in nature, depicting London as a hotbed of vice and folly; in particular, some of the comedies of Ben Jonson (Volpone, Epicoene), Thomas Middleton (A Trick to Catch the Old One, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside) and John Marston (The Dutch Courtesan').

Among the earliest City Comedies are Ben Jonson's "Every Man Out of His Humour" and Thomas Dekker's "The Shoemaker's Holiday," both dating from 1598. . The genre soon became very popular; the intricately plotted romantic comedies of Shakespeare and John Lyly that had been in vogue on the public and private stages until this point were largely superseded by plays which were set in a recognizable contemporary London, and which dealt with, in Ben Jonson's words, "deeds and language such as men do use" (Prologue to Every Man in his Humour).

Other notable examples of the genre are Chapman, Marston and Jonson's "Eastward Ho!," Dekker's "The Honest Whore, Parts 1 and 2," and Massinger's "A New Way to Pay Old Debts."

The city comedy can be considered a forerunner of the comedy of manners.


Other articles related to "city comedy":

Thomas Middleton - Middleton's Canon - Plays
... The Phoenix (1603–4) The Honest Whore, Part 1, a city comedy (1604), co-written with Thomas Dekker Michaelmas Term, a city comedy, (1604) A Trick to Catch ... Your Five Gallants, a city comedy (1607) The Bloody Banquet (1608–9) co-written with Thomas Dekker ... The Roaring Girl, a city comedy depicting the exploits of Mary Frith (1611) co-written with Thomas Dekker ...

Famous quotes containing the words comedy and/or city:

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    Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977)

    There was never a revolution to equal it, and never a city more glorious than Petrograd, and for all that period of my life I lived another and braved the ice of winter and the summer flies in Vyborg while across my adopted country of the past, winds of the revolution blew their flame, and all of us suffered hunger while we drank at the wine of equality.
    Norman Mailer (b. 1923)