Creating comic versions of popular (or unpopular) content is an old practice. For example, the first film parodies were created shortly after the first movies, with The Little Train Robbery (1905)–after The Great Train Robbery (1903).
So what makes for good parody? Comedy is personal. What is funny to one person may be groan-worthy to another. That said, we can still identify shared characteristics of well-received parody.
1. Parody should draw on a familiar song, TV show, movie, or other text. It can also be broader, playing off common themes or cultural phenomena, like with the Austin Powers movies. The original reference needs to be immediately recognizable. Assuming you know The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, it’s easy to recognize it here.
2. Good parody incorporates elements of the original throughout, but in a new fun way. Check out the trailer for Spaceballs (1987).
3. Some parodies are relatively timeless, like the Naked Gun series or Airplane. Most parodies, though, work because they relate to the moment. Like this one on social distancing:
Find your own examples of parodies. What makes you laugh? What doesn’t? How does familiarity with the original make the parody funnier? You can also try creating your own parody, taking an original and putting your own spin on it.
Parody Recommendations (not divided by age)
- Top parody movies. I advise watching the original films first.
- Holderness family videos
- Sesame Street parody playlist
- Weird Al, note that many of these have not aged well.
What parodies do you enjoy? Share your recommendations or links.