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Genius Humor
A joke that's only funny if you're familiar with a certain subject
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(permanent link) added: 2011-07-09 00:08:35 sponsor: Aspie (last reply: 2011-07-11 12:26:28)

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"Um... that, that was funny... if you um, if you studied Taglarin mythic rites... and are a complete dork."
-- Tara McClay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Family"

The trick to telling a good joke is to ensure that the basic subject of the joke is something that the average person would be familiar with. Therefore, in fiction-land, a good source of humor (for the audience anyway) is to have someone tell a joke that would only be understood by people with a specific area of expertise, then watch as the joke goes unappreciated by their friends, who lack the knowledge necessary to grasp the humour.

This trope generally manifests itself as a forced effort to be funny by a character not normally known for their jokes. As such it may be typical of the Hollywood Nerd.

May overlap with Genius Bonus and Viewers Are Geniuses, although it can be distinguished by one or more characters in the story also failing to get the joke.

Examples

Live-Action TV

  • The page quote is the result of Tara McClay's failed attempt at a joke about demons in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, due to the fact that only someone versed in a specific form of magic would have understood it.
  • Dr. Reid's Light Bulb Joke on Criminal Minds:
    Reid: "How many existentialists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? (beat) Two; one to change the lightbulb, and one to observe how it symbolizes an incandescent beacon of subjectivity in a netherworld of cosmic nothingness." (Cue blank stares from his audience).

Western Animation
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