Aristophanes and Blackadder – types of humour in the Acharnians and TV shows

With some help from my Lower 6th Class Civ set… Here are some clips of TV comedy to accompany quotes from Aristophanes’s Acharnians, sorted by “type of humour”.


  • Satire

The extreme characterisation and satirical treatment of Cleon throughout remind me of this:

  • Parody

The parodic but gentle use of Euripides’s Telephus, and the portrayal of Euripides, remind me of this respectful clip:

  • Impersonations / Stereotyping

The stereotyping of the ambassadors, and Pseudartabas’s Persian language and mangling of Greek, and even the description of Pericles as the Olympian remind me of this:

  • Visual Humour

It’s difficult to be sure of the extent of this, as we only have the words left to us, but the suggestion of a phallus mounted on a pole would have been funny in itself, and the use of a butcher’s block would have provided dark comedy. Perhaps not as wholly visual as this, though:

  • Verbal Humour

Some of Aristophanes’s most brilliant comedy is in the choice and positioning of words and puns. The “hoodwin – king” may not be his best, but there are lots more. This is one of my favourites:

  • Farce

The insistence of leaving the Pnyx when a drop of rain is felt, and the appearance of the one-eyed Pseudartabas aren’t as extreme a farcical situation as this…

  • Topical Allusions

The play abounds in these – from Cleon coughing up his thirty grand to the references to the Megarian Decree. There is no better example in modern TV of up-to-the-minute satire than this:

  • Situation Comedy

Not as easy to spot, but the painfully comic situations later in the play remind me of this:

  • Character-based Humour

Dikaiopolis’s joking and interactions later in the play remind me of this:

  • Surreal Humour / Fantasy

Plenty of this in Aristophanes – from the oven-baked oxen to the costumes! This is a classic of course:

  • Vulgar Humour

Where should I start? Aristophanes without sexual innuendo would be nothing. From the fig-tree-leaves to the references to Aspasia, to many that I won’t mention here, it’s all a bit like this:

  • Scatological Humour

Pooing and farting references abound – from the description of immigrants as “bran” to more obvious descriptions of sitting around farting, to the Golden Hills – similar to this:

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