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Half Hour Comedy

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Likely to be a Sitcom today, the half-hour comedy has been a staple since the very first days of television. The original half-hour comedies were influenced by the formats of Vaudeville shows, as artists began learning what would work in the new medium. Half-hour shows built on the variety model didn't play well, as they "felt short", due to the reduced time each player had to work with.

A single comedy skit was eventually expanded to fill the entire half hour, and what remained of the variety format was moved to an hourlong format.

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Of course advertising means this is rarely a full 30 minutes today: even The BBC, with its lack of advertising, reserves one minute for continuity announcements and previews — in British comedy writing circles the "BBC Half Hour" is 29 minutes.


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