Easing Tension With Humor

When Shakespeare wrote his tragedies, he used a technique that later came to be known as comic relief… a brief comic scene, suddenly thrust into the drama that gave the audience an unexpected and welcome break from the tension of the play. He used it in Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. The humor to our twenty-first century ears is sometimes lost, but it was always relevant, and it served its purpose well: it relieved tension, and it helped the audience absorb the greater tension still to follow.