The word farce derives from old French, meaning ‘stuff’ or ‘stuffing’ and may have originated in the comic interludes of medieval French religious plays serving as light-hearted stuffing in between more serious drama. Historically, the term meant a literary or artistic production of little merit.

Farce is a type of comedy that uses absurd and highly improbable events in the plot. Situations are humorous because of their ludicrous and often ridiculous nature. The choice of setting is a key factor in farce, as the protagonist is sometimes at odds with the environment. Often the central character in a farce does not (or should not) belong in the place of the action. The audience will only accept the situation if they follow the conventions previously established. But characters in a farce can also quite logically belong in the setting they are placed in.


Examples of farce can be found in the ancient Greek comedies of Aristophanes, the plays of Shakespeare and the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Farce in film includes the works of Charlie Chaplin, Keystone Cops and the Marx Brothers. On television, the best examples of farce surround British actor John Cleese. Ridiculous situations abound in the 1970’s television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus and later in the wonderful, but short-lived series Fawlty Towers. There are also several Monty Python films that are excellent examples of farce. Few actors possess the ability to create pure farce better than Cleese.

It is important to note that farce is both a verbal and physical humour, using deliberate character exaggeration by the actor. The Marx Brothers were renowned for using their bodies in such a way as to exaggerate the situation, thus making it even more farcical. Whether it was using on-screen props or simply their arms and legs, this famous team made farce a very physical form of comedy. Similarly, John Cleese also uses his body to extraordinary effect. By nature a very tall man, Cleese manipulates his body to create silly walks by simply extending his legs outward and exaggerating his movements for extreme comic effect.

35 Responses

  1. waste of oxygen says:

    LMAOO IB students uniting in this comment section

  2. David says:

    To the IB students here…hello from an IB teacher.
    You can find a large selection of articles in jstor – and you may wish to look for specific practitioners in your information search.

    For example, a good starting point is
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/26277407?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents – you will be able to read, highlight and be directed to further research sources at the end of the paper. If your school doesn’t have access to jstor the good news is that this one here is an source so, you can access it.

  3. Levi Carrell says:

    Farce is pretty stupid if you ask me! Not a big fan fr fr. Pretty ridiculous bro.

  4. Andy Wasif says:

    Thank you for posting this site. It’s very helpful. I’m a grad student doing a craft paper on “Farce” and was wondering, as many people I see before me, if you happened to have any helpful links or source information I could use regarding French farce, British sex farces, the history of farce, etc. Anything would be much appreciated if it’s no trouble.

  5. Valentino says:

    Im writing a paper for my exams and i could really use all the info i can get. Even a little help is appreciated. Please send it to PunkOfShimmering@hotmail.com honestly thanks in advance! A lot!

  6. William Seringer says:

    I’m also doing French Farce for my project!, If anyone has any helpful links please send them to Will14921@gmail.com

  7. Atticus Koch says:

    Alright, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one struggling, as I’m also doing my RP on French Farce. The structure of our class involves doing each of the projects 4 times, with the last one counting as the grade for IB. This is another Practice Presentation, so it’s not absolutely imperative that I get the best possible information, but I would greatly appreciate any help I could get. Thank you.


  8. Mysterious Pickle says:

    A little late for the party, but I am also doing my presentation on French Farce and I can’t find anything on performance conventions. If anyone could send some help here is my email:

  9. Timothy says:

    I am also doing my RP on French Farce and would appreciate some links, i’ve been searching far and wide on the web and have found nothing, I have searched through over 5 academic databases and found nothing. Anything will help at this point
    My email: tpchevalier@bishopscollegeschool.com

  10. Justin Cash says:

    Scarce resources are freely available on the Internet for French Farce, IB Theatre students. You’ll need to hit a university library to get anything useful on that topic. – Justin

  11. Kirill Rusin says:

    Wow this appears to be quite a common problem. Im also doing my RP on French Farce and would appreciate absolutely any help with the conventions and stock characters. Thanks in advance!


  12. Bianca Marie Delorme says:

    Same here ! I’m doing HL Theatre for IB and I’m working on my RP, it would be such a great honour if I could get those resource links thank you so much !
    my email is : bianca.delorme@me.com

  13. Joshua says:

    Same here, I am a Full IB Theatre candidate pertaining on the areas of the French Farce, if there are more links going around.


  14. Niklas says:

    I am doing exactly the same thing as everyone else. If there are still any links going around, I would really appreciate it.


  15. Martha says:

    Hello I am also doing the exact same thing but those links would be extremely beneficial for my project. My email is marthaseibel200p@gmail.com if you’re still sending them.

  16. Chelsea says:

    Glad I’m not alone for IB students. If the links are still going on, please send them to 63000.dusk@gmail.com

  17. Cera says:

    Another IB student here 🙂
    If websites are still being sent it would be a huuuuge help if you could also,please, send them to this email
    Please and thank you!

    • kat says:

      I am also doing my IB research project. If you were able to get the sources I’d appreciate if you’d be able to forward them to me, thank you 🙂

  18. Bella says:

    I know about 20 people have asked but it would aslo be helpful if anyone could send some other useful websites (IB Student here as well) isabella.bonza@gmail.com, thanks 🙂

  19. Cesar says:

    Same as everyone, I’m also doing an IB research project and I would like to know another the conventions I would appreciate some help, My email is, Garmahar@gmail.com , Thank you.

  20. Marie says:

    Just realised I put a wrong email. Maya.kheven@hotmail.com
    This would really help! Thank you!

  21. Mathew Kelly says:

    you guessed it guys, i’m also doing an IB research project, if you could pretty please help me find some sources i would be so happy! My email is mjkelley0909@lsr7.net

  22. Marie says:

    I am in the same position as the both student above! I am working on IB Research Presentation, and would appreciate it if you could possibly provide some information on the different theatrical conventions of French farce.
    Thank you sincerely in advance

  23. Josh says:

    Similar to the student above, I am currently working on an IB Research Presentation pertaining to French Farce and was wondering if you could possibly provide some more insight into the physical characteristics and actions required in farce it would be much appreciated.
    Thank you sincerely for your time

  24. Leonie says:

    This article was written very interestingly, giving a good insight into not only “Boeing-Boeing” but also the farce genre in its entity. I am currently working on an IB Research Presentation about French farce, researching into its historical context but more importantly notable conventions. However, it appears as though there is not a lot of information on that subject public yet. If you could describe and outline some of the most important characteristics or conventions of the genre that would be of so much help!
    Thank you very much in advance.

  25. Ch Faisal Abbasi says:

    Justin Cash thanks, it was u r good effort.

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