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'Laughter', says Eric Weitz, 'may be considered one of the most extravagant physical effects one person can have on another without touching them'. But how do we identify something which is meant to be comic, what defines something as 'comedy', and what does this mean for the way we enter the world of a comic text? Addressing these issues, and many more, this is a 'how to' guide to reading comedy from the pages of a dramatic text, with relevance to anything from novels and newspaper columns to billboards and emails. The book enables you to enhance your grasp of the comic through familiarity with characteristic structures and patterns, referring to comedy in literature, film and television throughout. Perfect for drama and literature students, this Introduction explores a genre which affects the everyday lives of us all, and will therefore also capture the interest of anyone who loves to laugh.