Our utter inability to resist (or avoid) farce, in art and in life

ylohOne of my and Racheline’s favorite story elements to play with is farce. Sure, we write a lot about death and coping with the difficult realities of relationships and life, but we even in our most serious stories we keep coming back to farce. After all, there can be farcical elements even in the midst of crisis, especially when crises keep happening right on top of each other.

“Adjunct Hell” is no exception. Carl is waiting to hear back from the tenure committee on whether he still has a job or not. He’s also conducting — and trying to keep secret — a relationship with his student, Phil, who’s a couple decades older than he is. Add in gossipy students, meddling colleagues, and Phil’s ex-wife who just happens to know the dean, and farce becomes essentially unavoidable.

Farce is more than just a hilarity-inducing plot device, though. In life, everything happens at once, all the time. Often, disastrously. Like the Thanksgiving where I, in one 24-hour period, got stuck in a snowstorm driving home, was trapped in the middle of really intense family drama over perogies (my father-in-law is Polish), misunderstood an email and thought all of my friends hated me, and got Racheline’s and my first novel contract — while I was at a bar.

The contract aside, that was a weekend I could have done without. But still, even in the midst of it all, while the terrible kept piling on, it was kind of funny. Farce is all about that. It’s the way we make one of the most pain in the ass truths of life part of our story while also keeping it — the story and our lives — fun.

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