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The World's First Comedian?
By:Rix Quinn

If you ever saw Aristophanes live on stage, you must be sincerely old. That’s because he appeared around 400 B.C., and back then the videos were pretty bad.

This amazing Greek dramatist knew how to communicate through comedy. Like present-day humorists, much of his work focused on current events or politicians.

What can we learn from this ancient wordsmith?

1. Humor can be a great teaching device. One of his early plays – “The Clouds” – talks about an old man trying to solve problems by enrolling in a “thinking school.”

2. Repetition – Aristophanes reinforced the main points of his plays by repeating major themes, often in verse.

3. Rhythm and song – These found their way into the author’s works as a helpful memory device. In fact, you might call Aristophanes “the great-great grandfather of musical comedy.”

4. Fantasy – In his play “The Frogs” Aristophanes tells about a trip to Hades to bring the author Euripides back to earth.

5. Offbeat comedy – Some critics claim a few of his comedies were intentionally silly. In some, a character from the play would step forward to address the audience. This person may have been one of the earliest “stand-up comics.”

6. Segmentation – A few critics say that Aristophanes’ writing skipped from one subject to another, and often seemed disconnected. Others, however, saw that this ancient author knew how to change subjects easily – and create powerful scenes – by weaving a single theme throughout each presentation.

Rix Quinn

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