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An activity is considered entertaining if it is able to keep the attention and interest of an audience or if it is able to deliver pleasure and joy. It might be a concept or a job, but more commonly it is one of the activities or events that have evolved through thousands of years particularly for the aim of holding an audience's attention. This could be anything from a game to a performance to a competition.

Even though people's attention might be captured by a variety of things due to the fact that everyone has their own unique tastes, the majority of types of entertainment are recognisable and common. Storytelling, music, theatre, dance, and other forms of performance are present in every culture, received support from royal courts, evolved into more complex forms, and eventually became accessible to all people throughout the course of history. In today's world, the process has been sped up by the development of an entertainment industry that produces and distributes various forms of entertainment items.

The act of being entertained has been closely connected with being amused, so that one widespread conception of the concept is that it entails having a good time and laughing, despite the fact that many forms of entertainment serve more serious functions. This may be the case in the many different kinds of ceremonies, celebrations, religious festivals, or satire, for instance. As a result, there is the chance that anything that looks to be entertaining might also be a way of attaining insight or intellectual development.

The audience is an essential component of entertainment since without them, a solitary pastime of amusement or leisure would not be considered entertainment. In the case of people watching a play, opera, television programme, or film, the role of the audience may be considered passive. On the other hand, the role of the audience may be considered active in the case of games, in which the player and audience roles are often reversed. The performance of entertainment may be formal and scripted, as in the case of theatre or concerts; or unscripted and spontaneous, as in the case of children's games. Entertainment can take place in a public setting or in a private one. The majority of types of entertainment have remained popular throughout the course of several centuries, developing with shifts in society, technological advances, and fashion, as is the case with stage magic.

The majority of governments have outlawed some forms of entertainment, such as carrying out executions in public. Fencing and archery are two examples of activities that were formerly used in hunting and warfare but have now evolved into popular spectator sports. Other pursuits, such as cooking, have also evolved into performances among professionals, which are then performed as worldwide contests and aired for entertainment purposes. What one person or group considers to be enjoyable might be seen as a kind of inhumane treatment by another.