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Farce

  • By: Jessica Milner Davis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Farce is traditionally regarded as the lowliest of all dramatic genres, despite the fact that theater professionals regard it as the most difficult to perform. Paradoxically, it is the most violent and physical style of performed comedy and yet gives the least social offense. Literary scholars damn it for many reasons, including its unashamed popular and economic success, which has made it a staple of dramatic fare throughout history. It is found around the world—in ancient Greece, Sanskrit dramas of the 1st century CE, medieval Europe (especially France), and in traditional Japanese theatre of the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries CE). The actors of the Italian commedia dell’arte specialized in farce (among other things) and it dominated the Parisian and London stages in the ...

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