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A parody ( Greek παρῳδία parōdía "counter-song" or "disguised sung song") is a distorting, exaggerating or mocking imitation of a work , a genre or a group of people in their recognizable style .


Characteristic features of the original are copied in a parody. This often has a strange effect. A parody need not necessarily have a derogatory character, because it confirms the meaning of the original. Often it can even pay homage to the parodied object.

Parodies do not necessarily need a specific original. A genre as a whole can also be parodied if it is easily recognizable. Since knowledge of the original is essential for the comic effect, the parody can be understood in literary theory as a form of intertextual writing.

Forms closely related to parody are the travesty , which does not imitate the style of the original, but reproduces its content in a comically altered form, and the pastiche . Travesty and parody are often under the umbrella term pastiche summarized. Pastiche and parody both thrive on their proximity to the original text, with the pastiche emphasizing the similarities and the parody the differences. The cento is a special form of parody .

The one attributed to Homer is considered to be one of the earliest parodies of Western literature, but actually dates from the 1st century BC. "Batrachomyomachie" ( frog mouse war ), originating in BC , where the war scenes of the Iliad are imitated in a parodic manner .

Parody can be seen not only as a genre, but also as a spelling. As such, it can also appear in other genera. Satire in particular often uses parodic methods, which makes it difficult to distinguish clearly between parody and satire. Both genres and spellings use irony as a stylistic device with different effects. In contrast to parody, satire refers to elements outside of the text and is always judgmental: it necessarily contains criticism , while a parody can only be based on comedy . However, many parodies were also written with the intention of criticizing the inadequacies of the parodied original or of polemically exposing them to ridicule. Vladimir Nabokov summed up the difference in the sentence that satire is a lesson, parody is a game.

History of theory

The current (literary) scientific theory formation on parody begins with the Russian formalists . They studied parody and recognized its important role in literary history. As the parodists imitate existing works and authors and add new aspects to them, literature evolves. In Bakhtin's parody is necessarily intertextual. The central point of his research is dialogicity. Each text enters into a dialogue with earlier texts and contains several voices such as B. the hero's voice or the narrator instance and contains other genres such. B. Poems , letters etc. Genette discusses the parody in the context of intertextuality. In this context, he coined the term hypertextuality to describe the relationship between Hypo text and hypertext. At the structural level, this relationship is established either through transformation or through imitation. Genette distinguishes three registers: playful, satirical and serious. He describes the playful transformation as a parody.



The wandering actors (see Deutsche Wanderbühne ) imitated the courtly theater by criticizing the authorities, social differences and other abuses of society on the basis of printed (initially Italian, later French) texts and in the form of parodies. By trivializing their templates, they consciously caricatured the courtly life of their time.

In the 18th century, in the run-up to the French Revolution, a widely acclaimed culture of theatrical parody and travesty developed at the Paris fairs , which gave rise to many theater genres of the 19th century such as opéra comique , pantomime , melodrama and farce .

In the old Viennese Volkstheater , well-known operas or plays were often taken as models or quoted ironically . Johann Nestroy, for example, paraphrased entire works ( Judith and Holofernes , Robert der Teuxel , Tannhauser or Die Keilerei auf der Wartburg ) or even borrowed music from Mozart for his Quodlibets ( Der Talisman , Höllenangst ).


In music the term originally had a different meaning. In baroque music and classical music, parody or parody method was the transformation of a musical work in order to make it available for other purposes or to adapt it to other sound ideas. This redesign can be a new text underlay (see also counterfactor ) or a purely musical-compositional one.

Examples can be found in Handel , Bach , Haydn and many others. Parodies in this sense are also the reworking of pieces of music, for example from musicals as they were composed by the musicians of modern jazz under the generic name bebop head , but here, based on the terminology of English-language music theory, the term counterfactor is mostly used.

Since 18./19. In the 19th century, parody increasingly referred to a caricaturing, satirically pointed or ironic imitation of certain musical genres (e.g. opera parody ), styles or composition techniques. Examples are the concerts of PDQ Bach or Gerard Hope .

Since the 20th century, especially in pop music, songs by other artists have been provided with satirical or parodic texts, which take up the content of the original or topics of pop culture . The basic melody of the piece is mostly retained, the instrumentation can vary. For example, the musician Weird Al Yankovic accompanied his song parodies with an accordion .

There are many channels on YouTube that deal with parodying popular songs . The songs are often put into a new context by means of new texts, for example to computer games , films or television series . These parodies are mostly part of the internet phenomena of certain songs. The songs most frequently parodied in this way include Gangnam Style by Psy , Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, and Friday by Rebecca Black .


One of the most famous film parodists is Mel Brooks , who u. a. created the Star Wars parody Spaceballs (1987) and the Western parody The Wild Wild West (1974). In the same year as the last-mentioned film, the British comedy group Monty Python also celebrates their screen debut with The Knights of the Coconut . a. the Arthurian legend satirized. In Great Britain, the carry-on film series (known in Germany as "Ist ja Irre" ) was also cult in the 1960s and 1970s .

In the 1980s, David Zucker , Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker released their disaster film parody The Incredible Journey in a Crazy Plane in theaters. This was followed in the 1990s with the film series The Naked Gun that appeal to police film - television series oriented, and Hot Shots! who mimicked pilot films like Top Gun .

With films such as the Scary Movie series (2000–2013), this film genre continues to enjoy great popularity. In the 2000s, the British director Edgar Wright was also able to perform with his parodic Blood-and-Ice-Cream trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead ( zombie film ), Hot Fuzz ( action film ) and The World's End ( science fiction - horror ), respectively with Simon Pegg in the leading role, achieve great success with audiences and critics. The directing duo Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have also been producing parody films for years, which have always received bad reviews and are regarded as bad imitations of ZAZ , but are always commercially successful.

In Germany, films like Der Schuh des Manitu and Der Wixxer achieved surprising success with audiences and critics.

Further examples:


Video games


  • Michail M Bachtin: The Aesthetics of the Word  (= Edition Suhrkamp; 967). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1979, ISBN 978-3-518-10967-0 .
  • Gérard Genette: Palimpsests: the literature on the second level  (= Edition Suhrkamp; 1683 = NF, 683: Aesthetica), 2nd edition. Edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-518-11683-5 .
  • Linda Hutcheon: A theory of parody: the teachings of twentieth-century art forms . Methuen, New York [u. a.] 1985, ISBN 0-416-37090-X .
  • Julia Kristeva: Desire in language: a semiotic approach to literature and art . Columbia University Press, New York 1980, ISBN 978-0-231-04806-4 .
  • Paul Paul Lehmann : The parody in the Middle Ages. With 24 selected parodic texts (1922) , 2nd, revised. u. supplementary edition, Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1963.
  • Paul Lehmann (Ed.): Parodistic texts. Examples of Latin parody in the Middle Ages . Drei Masken Verl., Munich 1923.
  • Erwin Rotermund: counter chants. Lyrical parodies from the Middle Ages to the present , 1st edition. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 1964.
  • Erwin Rotermund: The parody in modern German poetry , 1st ed. Edition, Eidos, Munich 1963.

Web links

Wiktionary: Parody  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Parodies  - Sources and Full Texts


  1. Theodor Verweyen and Gunther Witting: Parodie. In: Klaus Weimar et al. (Ed.): Reallexikon der Deutschen Literaturwissenschaft . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2007, Vol. 3, ISBN 978-3-11-091467-2 , p. 28 (accessed via De Gruyter Online)
  2. Linda Hutcheon: A theory of parody: the teachings of twentieth-century art forms . New York [u. a.]: Methuen 1985, ISBN 0-416-37090-X
  3. Theodor Verweyen, Gunther Witting: Parodie . In: Reallexicon of German literary studies: revision of the real dictionary of German literary history . de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, ISBN 978-3-11-019355-8 , pp. 23-27 .
  4. ^ Gero von Wilpert : Parody. In: Subject dictionary of literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 4th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1964, DNB 455687854 , p. 495.
  5. ^ "Satire is a lesson, parody is a game". Quoted in Dale E. Peterson: Nabokov and the Poe-etics of Composition . In: The Slavic and East European Journal 33, No. 1 (1989), p. 96.
  6. Michail M Bachtin, Rainer Grübel: The aesthetics of the word . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1979.
  7. Gérard Genette: Palimpsests: the literature on the second level  (= Edition Suhrkamp; 1683 = NF, 683: Aesthetica), 2nd edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-518-11683-5 .