Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mass Communication



First Advisor

Michael Castro

Second Advisor

John Knoll

Third Advisor

Carolyn Scott


Many American audiences have enjoyed comedy films throughout much of the twentieth century. In years past, some visited motion picture theaters on a weekly basis; today many audiences continue to enjoy comedy films. Given the numerous daily conversations that revolve around films, it seems that many viewers may learn about and remember the comedies they see. Besides the entertainment that comedy films provide, comedies may also teach audiences.

This culminating project is designed to discuss the communication of American comedy films with audiences. It will introduce various types of comedy and certain comedy actors. In addition, it will note literature used to research this project. After the review of sources, this project will discuss noteworthy American comedy films, including Duck Soup (1933), It Happened One Night (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), and Some Like It Hot (1959).

The discussion will then analyze different ideas about possible meanings of these comedy films. Among other things, this project will discuss whether comedies, as Mary Douglas maintains, may support the status quo or may promote new ways of life (in Karnick and Jenins 270). By examining paradoxes that comedies may contain and vicarious experiences that they may offer, this project hopes to explore some of the ways that comedy films may relate to viewers.

While films are interpreted in different ways , this project intends to offer a few of the many ways to look at them. Though comedies are o f ten seen as mere entertainment, they may educate and influence viewers as well. More fully comprehending possible meanings of comedy can lead to a greater appreciation of comedy as well as a better understanding of the human condition. Thus, the study of comedy film messages seems worthwhile and interesting.