Types of Humor

Types of Humor

Low Comedy, Burlesque, and Melodrama


Chances are that even if the terms low comedy, burlesque , and melodrama are unfamiliar, you know them well.

  • In your group, see if you can come up with definitions for the terms low comedy ,burlesque , andmelodrama . These terms describe the comedy in act 4, scene 2. As you do this, reflect on your earlier conversations about humor.

Low Comedy in Act 4, Scene 2

Work Time

Share your group’s definitions for the comedy terms.

This is also your chance to review what happened in this scene. While the humor is low and the scene is short, there’s also a really important plot point.

  • First, look up the official definitions of low comedy ,burlesque , andmelodrama .
  • Identify the plot point. What information does Dogberry get from the two detained men?
  • Be sure to ask any questions that you still have about the play so far.

Who?s on First?

Work Time

Watch or read the Abbott and Costello sketch “Who’s on First?” Even though it may not be your favorite kind of humor, it is one of the most famous comedy sketches of all time.

Pay close attention to what makes this clip funny. When you’re finished, share your ideas with a partner or small group and see whether you noticed the same things. Why has this sketch stood the test of time?

Sketch Comedy in Shakespeare

Work Time

Next, compare and contrast the humor in act 4, scene 2 of Much Ado About Nothing with that in the Abbott and Costello sketch.

  • What is similar?
  • What is different?
  • What other sketches have you seen on TV or on film that can be compared or contrasted with these scenes?

Open Notebook

Share your observations with your group and then with the whole class.

Irony in Act 4

Work Time

There’s irony in act 4. The princes and lords are completely in the dark. They’re also very ready to believe the worst about Hero. However, “lower-class” characters in the play can see the truth.

Consider these facts, and then respond in writing.

  • What does this tell you about these characters?
  • What does this tell you about society in this play?

Open Notebook

Share your thoughts with the class.

Act 5, Scene 1 Read Aloud


With a small group, read act 5, scene 1. There are seven parts in total.

  • Assign parts within your group. You might give one part to each person or double up.
  • Another possibility is to take turns, changing readers on each page. Maybe your group has one or two able readers who can read for your group.
  • Pause your reading after each page to discuss what happened and make sure that everyone understands.
  • Keep your voices soft so as not to bother the other groups.

Act 5, Scene 1


Continue to read act 5, scene 1 for homework.

  • Make sure to write in your Much Ado About Nothing Dialectical Journal. This is a long scene and is the beginning of thedenouement , or the resolution, of the play.
  • Take notes on what is confusing or problematic so you can go over it in class during the next lesson.