Didaskalia : "Roman drama has several origins, some native to Italy, some imported. One of the most important influences on Roman Comedy (called the fabula palliata in Latin, after the 'Greek' cloak or pallium worn by the actors) was the Atellan Farce, a non-scripted theatrical form which made use of stock masks (characters) and slapstick gags. It was very similar to the Commedia dell'arte of the Italian Renaissance.
These slapstick characters and pratfalls were welded onto the tradition of Greek New Comedy, which was imported into Rome after its conquest of Greece. New Comedy is the ancestor of sitcoms, with plots focusing on domestic issues, usually involving boy-meets-girl-parents-forbid-marriage and the intervention of a clever slave to save the day. The Greek versions were fairly genteel, but Plautus and the other early Roman comic playwrights added lively action, ferocious puns (in Latin and Greek), rude jokes, and lots and lots of physical comedy."