Television Comedy and its Impact on Behavior of Cambodian School Going Children

During the absence of television, Cambodian people walk from village to village to see the Ayai play. People like Ayai because they can get a lot of fun in the time of performance via wordy comedy. Ayai comedy was very popular. It isa state-play about daily life performed by wordy poem singer.

The present of new media, especially television, change people tradition. People can access to television to seek for the new way of entertainment. According Indochina Media Research Index (2011), television viewership becomes the number one leading media consumption in Cambodia.

People tend to television rather than walking from place to place to see the traditional comedy play. However, two decades under the civil war, Cambodians are influenced by violence and conflict. In the age of media development, these phenomenon inspired media products which produced by the generation of war.

The program producer claimed that it is about real life, even though sometimes the plays were inserted the rude or violent content. The producers said their targeted audiences are young adult and adult, it is not for children.

The Phnom Penh Post reported that while enjoying the popular television comedy show,a 70-year-old man in Pursat province’s Krakor have “died of laughter” by suffered a heart (David, 2011).

The Cambodian Television Association has warned comedians who perform live on television to avoid jokes about sex, religion, and vulgar behavior. The order will require co-medians to describe their acts in detail before going on the air (Yun Samean, 2002).

School going young children mostly watches the television with their family. Even though they do not aware clearly the message of the show, they tried to imitate the comedian’s actions and words.

Laugh and Human

People love to be happy, including Cambodians. According to neurobiologist Robert Provine, laughter developed from a ritualized panting sound of rowdy play triggered by tickle. Scientists are not surprised to find that the main purpose of laugher is thus a social one, binding people together. (Polard, 2014).

Dr. Polard explained that what distinguishes humans from apes is therefore not laughter, but what people laugh about that is what they consider play. They do not only laugh when they are physically tickled, but when they merely imagine to be tickled. From idea of play to verbal play and humor is but a small evolutionary step. Only humans have the ability to laugh at jokes and folly, at inconsistencies and rigidities in the flow of life. In fact, our happiness depends on our ability to keep it light and to invite others to laugh along with us as all players are interconnected, affecting each other (Polard, 2014).

Comedy and Children

Television has a major impact on children’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Research has demonstrated the association between television viewing and four areas: (1) children’s aggressive behavior; (2) racial and sex-role stereotypes; (3) decreased interest in reading and school activities; and (4) poorer health habits and attitudes (Diana M. Zuckerman and Barry S. Zuckerman, 1985). A child will learn and imitate behavior seen on television, even in the absence of any obvious reinforcement. They reported that children’s television programs are six times as violent as adults’ television programs.

To understand clearly what comedy really means, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it:

Comedy, n. state-play of light, amusing and often satirical character, chiefly representing everyday life, and with happy ending.

Benkeser (1970) said the goal of television comedy became more than to simply entertain, the goal became to enlighten. Television is a highly personal medium. It is a part of our everyday life. To create a show with real impact, the writer and cast must be able to combine entertainment and a message.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it is worrying that some of the youngest pupils do not know what behavior is acceptable and when they should use it, and cannot differentiate between what they have seen on TV and real life,” (Lipsett, 2009).

From Aristotle on, and in contrast to tragedy, comedy was for centuries the most appropriate genre for representing the lives, not of the ruling classes, of those with extensive power, but of the middle and lower order of society, those whose power was limited and local, those manners, behaviors, and values were considered by their better to be either trivial or vulgar, or both (Frank Krutnik, Steve Neale, 1990).

The forms designed to give rise to laughter are local, specific, and, often, momentary: the funny line, the joke, the wisecrack, the gag, and so on (Frank Krutnik, Steve Neale, 1990).

Accordingly, Rosenkoetter (1999) believed that television comedies were potential influencing agents on children’s prosocial behavior. He also noticed that the children, who understood the prosocial themes, performed prosocial behaviors in their interactions.


Bandura, A. (2002). Social Cognitive Theory in Cultural Context. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 51(2), 269-290.

Benkeser, F. M. (1970). All In the Family: A television breakthrough and a comedic success. 1, 37.

David, S. (2011, June 15). Show was so funny, he died laughing. Retrieved from The Phnom Penh Post:

Diana M. Zuckerman and Barry S. Zuckerman. (1985, February). Television’s Impact on Children. Pediatrics, 75(2), 233. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from

Evra, J. V. (2008). Television and Child Development. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associtaes, Inc.

Frank Krutnik, Steve Neale. (1990). Popular Film and Television Comedy. London: Routledge.

Lipsett, A. (2009, March 30 ). Television to blame for Deline in Pupil Behavior. Retrieved from the Guardian: television-programmes

Polard, D. A. (2014, April 06). A Unified Theory of Happiness. Retrieved from Psychology Today:

Potter, W. J. (1995, August). Assessing the Social Influence of Television: A Social Cognition Perspective on Cultivation Effects. Communication Research, 22, 402-429.

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Wagstaff, J. (2010). Southeast Asian Media:Patterns of Production and Consumption. Open Society Foundation.

Yun Samean. (2002, August 30). The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved from Comedians Warned About Using Crude Humor on Television::

NOTE: This paper is submitted for Mass Communication Research class.

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