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Parody Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

If the right tools are used, teaching parody to students can be informative and fun. This lesson provides these tools to teachers through the use of classroom parody activities and games.

Principles of Parody

An introduction to parody that provides students with a practical definition can help them as they undertake the following activities. If you covered other, similar topics in class, such as satire, it's important to point out the differences. For instance, satire can involve the creation of original works, whereas parody is derived from existing material.

If possible, write the following basic definition of parody across the top of the blackboard so students can refer to it as they work.

  • A parody is a humorous imitation of an established work or person.

You can also write the dictionary definition of parody on the board and ask for students to give their own definitions to supplement the official definition.

Parody Play

This game works best if your class has recently read a well known literary work. You can also use an existing story or setting that everyone is familiar with.

  1. Divide the students into small teams.
  2. Assign each team a scene or section from the chosen work. (You can also assign each team the same scene so that you can compare the different interpretations of the same material.)
  3. Instruct the teams to create a short parody play of their assigned material. The groups should write out their lines and develop some basic stage movements.
  4. Give the teams some time to practice their parody scenes.
  5. Have each team perform their scenes for the class.

To conclude the game, ask for each team to provide a constructive critique of one of the other teams. This step can be done either orally or in writing. You can also allow the groups to create a parody play of an existing piece of culture of their choice, such as a movie, TV show, or well-known story like Star Wars or Harry Potter.

Parody Your Partner

This activity will allow your students to work together to create both the parody and the source material it's based on. To begin, tell students to create a short, original piece of writing. The original writing could be fiction or nonfiction, but it must be written in a straightforward, serious tone.

When the original pieces are complete, collect them and randomly redistribute them so that each student now has a classmate's work. The receiving classmate should create a parody of the writing he or she received. As students are creating their parodies, remind them to maintain the content, characters, and events of the original while adding elements of parody such as humor, exaggeration, and other comedic elements.

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