What does the word posse mean


As Posse is a low, sometimes coarse form of comedy. The farce presents lifelike and effective content, which is often based on punchy character and situation comedy. The comic drama should above all amuse you. In principle, however, it is not offensive, even if it is permeated with biting ridicule. Wacky coincidences and improbable exaggerations satisfy the audience's need to laugh.


It is very likely that the term originated in French bosses is due. This can be done with humpback, Humps, bump or relief translate. As a result, posse was originally used to denote ornamentation or accessories on cornices and monuments or grotesque joke figures on fountains. There is also a connection to the stage play, which presents strange, comical, sometimes joking figures.

Note: In the following we would like to present the characteristics of the posse and then present some examples and representatives in order to then shed light on the development and the historical background.

Features of the posse

Overview: Features of the play
  • The posse is a stage play as well as a special form of comedy. Furthermore, it is similar to the Commedia dell’arte, the Italian impromptu comedy; the Mardi Gras game; the burlesque and the Sway or the ancient one Mimus, a hilarious everyday scene.
  • It is characterized by character and situation comedy and should therefore encourage laughing through funny representations, whereby it is sometimes characterized by sharp mockery.
  • Another characteristic is the high level of improvisation, which very often provided amusement in the form of an interlude. This sometimes extremely brisk improvisation was used for entertainment and amusement, but was also a way of avoiding censorship in the 18th century, as texts were checked and partially deleted before the performance.
  • The focal point of the farce in all its manifestations is a strange person, the harlequin, Buffoon or Kasperknown to us from puppetry. This figure was the bearer of the comic or the embodiment of what was ridiculed.
  • The characters in the play are mostly simple people from everyday life, such as farmers, craftsmen or servants. Accordingly, the whole thing stands in contrast to the tragedies of the 18th century, which were mostly about nobles and higher-ranking people.
  • The posse is also linguistically oriented towards ordinary people, it is based on everyday and colloquial language and is very understandable. It is therefore written for those who were primarily among the audience at such performances.
  • In the piece there are often improbable coincidences, funny mix-ups, excessive exaggerations, whereby the whole thing is also characterized by crude ridicule, comic elements and witty improvisations.
  • Note: The greatest development of the posse can be found in Vienna in the 17th and 18th centuries. There the play was elevated to a magic posse, which realized folk plays with elaborate stage technology. It was here that beings from popular mythology appeared and interfered with human relationships, which heralded a turning point (→ peripetia).
  • Well-known works and buffoons
    • Ludwig Tiek (1773 – 1853)
      • The upside-down world (1798)
    • Johann Nestroy (1801 – 1862)
      • The evil spirit Lumpacivagabundus (1833)
      • He wants to make himself a joke (1842)
      • Judith and Holofernes (1849)
    • Zygmunt Krasiński (1812 – 1859)
      • Undivine Comedy (1835)

Origin and Development of the Posse

The first forms of popular comedy can be found in the 17th century Main and state action, a collective name for theater plays, in the middle of which stood the Hanswurst, a hilarious figure of the German-speaking Impromptu comedy.

Nevertheless, the so-called already existed in antiquity Satyr game. This can be understood as an archetype of the farce. The satyr play is a cheerful, liberating epilogue that followed a sequence of three tragedies, the one at the tragic agon of the Great Dionysia was performed.

The farce as it is understood today However, developed from the carnival game of the 16th century and is also associated with the Commedia dell’arte related to the Italian impromptu comedy of the 16th to 18th centuries. The figure of Kaspers in the puppet show also shows essential elements of the farce. The puppet figure Kasper has been known in German-speaking countries since the end of the 18th century.

The rough stage play developed in the 18th century to an elaborate show of illusions, with the text partially fading into the background. The antics of this period are based on stage illusions and sorcery or act as Improvement pieces of a person who, out of stupidity, dissatisfaction or presumptuousness, does not submit to the social or divine order and only finds his way back to middle-class life after many tests, which makes the classic one happy end is initiated.

The high point of the antics, however, are the works of Johann Nestroy in the 19th century. Nestroy helped the widespread magical farce to a new image, gave it an intellectual touch and developed numerous parodic and satirical antics in the process. One of his most famous works these days is The evil spirit Lumpacivagabundus (1833), which was consistently rated positively by the critics.

In addition, the posse is in the 19th century almost always associated with singing and is also interrupted by a concise couplet, a polyphonic, funny-ambiguous, political or even satirical song with a very catchy chorus. Furthermore, the stage play can now contain dances and choirs and in this form is increasingly being transformed into musical theater.

Brief overview: The most important things about the Posse at a glance
  • Antics are crude and sometimes crude representatives of comedy. This means that it is characterized by funny incidents and insane incidents and is accompanied by coarse and simple language. The farce even reminds of them in parts Clowning, which is mainly due to the focus on punchy situation comedy.
  • The posse changed over the centuries from a simple, funny stage play to an impressive stage illusion (Magic farce) with fairies, ghosts and fairy tale characters, whereby more musical interludes were added to the repertoire.
  • Note: Many of the former poses traditions as well as the features presented are nowadays adopted by the cinema and comedic film.