What is Farce in Literature? Definition, Examples of Literary Farce

Farce definition: A farce is a type of comedy or comedic element that uses buffoonery and horseplay to depict ridiculous or improbable situations.

What is a Farce in Literature?

Farce meaning: A farce is a type of comedy in which the dialogue and action is ridiculous in nature. The situations presented in these comedies are often described as crude, slapstick, or over the top. While works may be entirely farcical, plays may also employ the use of small farcical scenes.

Farce Example

An example of a farce can be found in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This film includes many farcical situations such as the men encountering an evil beast. This beast looks like an innocent little bunny, but it changes quickly to a killer rabbit and comedy ensues as this bunny attacks the knights.

Modern Examples of Farce

The television show Saturday Night Live relies heavily on farcical skits in order to entertain the audience. One of the most famous skits is perform with Will Ferrell in which his role is to play more cowbell in the recording studio.

The movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation includes many farcical scenes with its star Chevy Chase playing the patriarch of the family, Clark Griswald. He wants his family to have the perfect Christmas, and his attempts to create this are shown through many farcical situations including a dinner completed with a smoking turkey and cat food filled jell-o mold.

The Function of Farce in Literature

The purpose of including farce in literature is to entertain the audience. This type of low comedy’s primary function is to make the audience laugh. In literary pieces that are not entirely farcical, these humorous scenes may be added to relieve tension created by more serious moments.

Examples of Farce in Literature

William Shakespeare’s comedies often involved farcical situations. He had a broad audience he wrote for when composing plays; therefore, the farcical scenes would appeal to the lower class groundlings. One play that employed the use of this technique was The Comedy of Errors, which revolved around a case of mistaken identities.

Another example of farce in literature comes from the play Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas. In this comedy, several farcical situations are present through plans gone wrong, cross-dressing, and plain comic confusion while two men are trying their best to woo their love interests. This famous play is one of the most commonly referred to pieces when identifying farcical literature.


Define farce in literature: A farce is an over-the-top comedy that’s primary purpose is to entertain the audience and make them laugh through presenting situations that are completely ridiculous.

Final Example:

The actor Jim Carrey began his career popularity through farcical movies such as Ace Ventura Pet Detective When Nature Calls. In this movie, he finds himself in ridiculous situations such as unknowingly eating bat guano or proving himself through various tribal challenges.