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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.

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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. Compare Screwball Comedy.


Examples:

Theatre

Television

  • Is it even possible to talk about this trope without mentioning Arrested Development?
  • 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.
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  • 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 its belt before ending in 2012.
  • As might be expected, French sitcom Les Filles d'à côté practically ran on this trope, with many episodes characterised by escalating misunderstandings between cast members.

Film

Literature

  • E
  • Locklear Letters
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign.
  • Just about everything written by Tom Sharpe especially Wilt
  • P. G. Wodehouse was the master of the literary farce. Everything flows from one misunderstanding or blunder to another, culminating to a perfect mess and an even more perfect rescue.
  • Lucky Jim. Jim's tendency to force himself to do things he doesn't want to do, and tendency to lie to cover up his own mistakes leads to a plot full of hilarity and misunderstanding that pokes fun at the flaws of all the characters.
  • Overlord is a combination of this and Black Comedy. The elder Lich "Ainz Ooal Gown" may seem to be a classic Sorcerous Overlord with godlike power and intelligence, but in truth he's a confused Japanese salaryman trapped in the body of his MMORPG character, who's bluffing desperately to stop his minions from realising how dumb he actually is. The Mood Whiplash sets in when Ainz's lieutenants "decipher" his "intricate plan" to Take Over the World, and start enacting it for him - as Ainz "reveals the details" of this plan it becomes increasingly clear that the combination of unlimited power, isolation and an undead body is dulling his sense of empathy, causing him to perform horrific actions just to maintain the bluff.

Tabletop Games

Webcomics

  • The "Dinner for Six" arc in Penny and Aggie involves escalating misunderstandings, mistaken identities, compromising situations and contrived, Slapstick accidents.

Western Animation

  • Futurama: "Into the Wild Green Yonder" hinges on this, particularly in the third act.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Mean 6" sees the villain Chrysalis creating evil clones of the main heroes—clones who proceed to bicker between themselves and get mixed up among the heroes, without either side noticing. The heroes have a falling-out and then reconcile, without realizing that the villains were ever there, while Chrysalis's evil plan falls apart without any intervention from the heroes.

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