Farce

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Farce is a literary and theatrical genre, where humor is derived from improbable coincidences and irrational behavior leading to frantic and stressful situations. The characters in farces are often dignified or pompous at the outset, but find their dignity undermined by finding themselves in ever more demeaning and undignified positions.

In theater, farces are often based around a set featuring numerous entrances and exits. Actors continually enter and leave the stage at different times, failing to realize the 'full picture' of what is happening, while the audience of course is 'in' on all the secrets and can see disaster approaching (see dramatic irony). There are elements of farce in some ancient Greek comedies, and farce was a particularly popular genre in nineteenth century French theater. In the English-speaking world, Michael Frayn, Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward have all written successful farces.

In novels and short stories, the conventions of farce are less well-defined, but farcical situations are common in humorous works. For example, Don Quixote contains many farcical episodes, where the protagonist's imagined dignity is contrasted with the abject reality of his situation, which everyone but he (and Sancho Panza) can see.

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