Farce: Pure Entertainment



A farce is a literary genre and the type of a comedy that makes the use of both verbal and physical humor. It uses deliberate character exaggerations and funny situations to entertain the audience. Farce is also a subcategory of dramatic comedy that 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.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, when farce first appeared in English, it had to do with cookery, not comedy. In the fourteenth century, English adopted farce from Middle French, retaining its original meaning of “forcemeat” or “stuffing.” The comedic sense of farce in English dates from the 16th century, when England imported a kind of knockabout comedy that is already popular in France. This dramatic genre had its origins in the thirteenth-century practice of augmenting, or “stuffing” Latin church texts with explanatory phrases. By the 15th century, a similar practice had arisen of inserting unscripted buffoonery into religious plays. Such farces—which included clowning, acrobatics, reversal of social roles, and indecency—soon developed into a distinct dramatic genre and spread rapidly in various forms throughout Europe.

Perhaps the best example of a farce is the show The Three Stooges. If you don’t remember any of the plot to any of their episodes, I don’t blame you. The purpose of the show is simply to make you laugh, not to make you sit and think of the plot. In fact, you can say it doesn’t even have a plot and I’ll probably agree with you.


Everyone knows the beautiful story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. How this noble father led his child to the slaughter; how Isaac meekly submitted; how the farce went on till the lad was bound and laid on the altar, and how God then stopped the murder, and blessed the intending murderer for his willingness to commit the crime.

—Annie Besant








One response to “Farce: Pure Entertainment

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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD