Farce is very broad comedy, generally appearing in acted media. It's characterized by double entendres
, misunderstandings, deceptions, and in general very contrived and ridiculous situations. Contrived Coincidence
, so far from being problematic, is required in large doses by the Rule of Funny
. Farce is almost never leisurely-paced; "breakneck" is more apt to describe it. Look for a lot of doors opening and shutting and characters stumbling upon other characters when they're in compromising situations/situations that appear compromising.
See the Mistaken for Index
for all of the many misunderstandings in the genre. See Fawlty Towers Plot
for farces specifically based on escalating lies.
- Farce was popularized by Georges Feydeau, whose La Puce a l'oreille (A Flea in Her Ear) was one of the earliest examples of the classic form.
- Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest
- Then there was Joe Orton, the 'Oscar Wilde of the Welfare State gentility,' who mixed farce and black comedy to hilarious effect.
- Boeing Boeing
- La Cage aux folles
- Lend Me A Tenor
- Noises Off
- Rumors (Neil Simon)
- Charley's Aunt
- The School for Scandal
- No Sex, Please, We're British
- A Flea in Her Ear
- The Man Who Came To Dinner
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
- Pierre Corneille's Le Cid got the author into trouble with Cardinal Richelieu, who wasn't just a fictional Big Bad. Apparently mixing tragedy with farce was considered a bad thing in the 1700s, and the argument between the two even got its own cool sounding name, La Querelle du Cid.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: A similar example to La Querelle du Cid, Cyrano de Bergerac is a play which mixes Tragedy with Farce with great success, and it even presents Cardinal Richelieu... as The Ghost. It's characterized by misunderstandings, deceptions, and in general very contrived and ridiculous situations (Playing Cyrano, for instance), or the Gascon Cadets stumbling upon Cyrano and Christian when they're in a situation that appears compromising and a Fetch Quest... in the middle of the death of the protagonist.
- The Bride of Brackenloch
- Shakespeare loved this trope for his comedies, with The Comedy of Errors probably being the most overblown one of all.
- Accidental Death of an Anarchist
- Fawlty Towers follows this formula quite closely, most episodes a snowballing sequence of things going from bad to worse via a combination of bad luck and Basil Fawlty's own magnetism for karmic retribution.
- I Love Lucy (without the innuendo and double entendres)
- Several Friends episodes relied on this, particularly ones that advanced the various story arcs.
- Several episodes of Coupling
- Frasier. Not an episode goes by without awkwardly hilarious crises opening up as characters frantically rush around and juggle lies as they try to hide their messes from each other at break-neck speeds, often causing waves of misunderstandings. Contrived Coincidences also figured prominently into many plots, generally following the format of someone overhearing a conversation or spotting something private, and drawing entirely the wrong conclusion and going hog-wild as a result.
- Three's Company was so archetypal an example of sitcom farce that many later shows explicitly refer to it when farcical situations are unfolding. It was even the Former Trope Namer for the entire Mistaken for Index, which used to be called simply "Three Is Company".
- 'Allo 'Allo!.
- The aptly named Royal Canadian Air Farce had several decades of breakneck political/cultural comedy under there belt before ending in 2012.
- The "Dinner for Six" arc in Penny and Aggie involves escalating misunderstandings, mistaken identities, compromising situations and contrived, Slapstick accidents.
- Futurama: "Into the Wild Green Yonder" hinges on this, particularly in the third act.