Farce as a Literary Genre

Definition – Examples – How to Write

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Hey, Hi, Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Last week, I mentioned that I had made a mistake in my posting schedule and that normally we’d start the final Pillar of Genre this week, however, I had some backtracking to do. As much as I’d love to say that this is a farce, I did not actually skip the post on farce as a literary genre intentionally! So let’s dive in with my apologies for being a normal, mistake making human, and talk about farce this week so that we can get back on track.

Farce Definition

A farce is a literary genre and type of comedy that makes use of highly exaggerated and funny situations aimed at entertaining the audience. Farce is different from other forms of comedy as it only aims at making the audience laugh. It uses elements like physical humor, deliberate absurdity, bawdy jokes, and drunkenness just to make people laugh. We often see one-dimensional characters in ludicrous situations in farces.


I’m honestly thinking of sitcoms here like Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory. Stand-up comedians perform farce, especially in shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? Things that make fun of themselves for the joy of doing it, like Monty Python’s History of the World Part I, of which there was never a Part II made or intended, and old shows like The Three Stooges that perform gimmick after gimmick for the bawdy entertainment aspect. These things are all farce as they are over the top and intended for one purpose only; to make people laugh.

How to Write Farce as a Literary Genre

So you want to know how to entertain an audience with your words alone? There are several strategies to do just that. Let’s go over a few of them now, as suggested by the University of Idaho:

  1. Identity Centered:

Revolves around the mistaken or threatened identity of the characters.

  1. Attitude towards the Plot:

The plot mocks social codes, is clue based, involves ‘funny’ violence, has a shock resolution, and a happy ending.

  1. Wit and Manners:

The plot toys with the concept of what should be done (is proper) and the rebellions against that code. It is the witty approach to these issues that creates farce.

  1. Reversal of Expectations:

The element of surprise can happen anywhere in the action and usually does. The resolution always includes a comic reversal.

  1. Velocity and Speed:

Things happen quickly. It’s comedy: timing, timing, timing.

  1. Multiple and Fragile Substructures:

Structure is based on social satire and it follows rules that we can see and which guide the characters. It is the written guide by which the characters are trapped.

  1. Use of Character Roles:

Young lovers, witty servants, hen pecked husbands, misers, and rising socialites. A loosened, yet enhanced, commedia cast.

Next Week

Next week, we are finally starting our next Pillar of Genre, and it’s the big one that everyone’s been waiting all year for; Fiction! There are a ton of subgenres that fall under the fiction category and I am so excited to go over them all and find out your favorites. Stay tuned for fiction next week and throughout the rest of the year!

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your favorite drama in film or literature?
  2. Do you have a favorite type of drama subgenre?
  3. What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
  4. What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!

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