Why does comedy matter? Is it celebratory or subversive? What makes it flourish, and which creative forces resist it? English Comedy addresses these and related questions by invoking a variety of works from Aristophanes to Walt Disney, while focusing on the traditions of comic writing in England. Poetry, the vel and (above all) drama are examined to assess the constrictions and liberations of genre, the negotiations or divergences between comic practice and theory, and the dynamics of theatrical language. Ranging from medieval and Renaissance drama through Romantic poetry to twentieth-century literature and philosophy, English Comedy makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the heritage of comic writing.