Created By: Knight9910 on July 14, 2013 Last Edited By: Agares on December 26, 2013

Evil Is Funnier

Good is just no good for comedy.

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Trope
(Will get a better description in time. I'm leaving it short in case we already have this and I missed it, or it's deemed not tropeable for some other reason.)

Essentially, this trope is about the tendency of humorous works, especially more recent ones, to rely heavily on morally ambiguous (or even outright evil) characters and plotlines, apparently under the idea that "good isn't funny."

Examples include a large segment of the comedy genre, but the ones that led me to notice the trend in the first place were Futurama, Dragon Ball Z Abridged, and Borderlands 2.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • July 14, 2013
    Knight9910
    Just to be clear, this isn't simply "a comedy movie has a bad guy." It's more along the lines of everyone being a bad guy. There are either no good guys or at best only a few and they're not all that good, and it's apparent that this is being done not out of cynicism, but because it's "funnier" that way.

    Might be Truth In Television, as it is at least true that acknowledging moral absolutes means that some joke material gets thrown into the realms of Dude Not Funny, thereby limiting your humor options.
  • July 14, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    They usually feature the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist.
  • July 15, 2013
    DAN004
    This trope is one way to fight Darkness Induced Audience Apathy in Evil Versus Evil shows, by making their clashes funny, wacky and oftentimes nonsensical.
  • July 15, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Adding to my previous point, I think your trope is "Comedic Sociopathy, and that's all the show really has to offer". There's a family of tropes like this including Cringe Comedy, Black Comedy, Dead Baby Comedy, Kafka Comedy, Sadist Show... the list goes on.
  • July 15, 2013
    Knight9910
    It's not exactly like that.

    It does involve a lot of Comedic Sociopathy, but it's not ONLY that. Same with Cringe Comedy - it might involve that, but it's not just that. It's not Black Comedy because it's not necessarily about death. It's not a Kafka Comedy because no one even attempts to be good.

    It's more "amorality for comedy's sake." Take the example of Futurama. Bender might humorously strangle Fry (Comedic Sociopathy) or joke about some dead person (Black Comedy), but then there are moments where he'll just do something like stealing a cigar and we're supposed to laugh. It's not Comedic Sociopathy because the issue of how he has or hasn't hurt the previous owner of the thing he stole never comes up. It's more that we're just supposed to say "Something evil happened! LOL!"
  • July 15, 2013
    Hodor
  • July 15, 2013
    Knight9910
    Oh! That reminds me of another good example.

  • July 15, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I'd ask how doing evil acts for laughs isn't Comedic Sociopathy (which is flexible).

    Do I dare add Laughably Evil?
  • July 15, 2013
    Psi001
    This is arguably down to the fact that villains are often Asshole Victims or Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists, so you can dish out as much Comedic Sociopathy onto them without it seeming cruel, inflicting comical violence on the cute little animal hero that's nice to everybody can cross the line.

    Granted some medias over assume how far this stipulation goes and fans actually end up wishing the Iron Butt Monkey loser villain could get revenge on the Immune To Slapstick winner hero (eg. Tom And Jerry, The Dreamstone).

    The earlier mentioned description sounds a bit like the Sadist Show trope however.
  • July 15, 2013
    Knight9910
    I think I might be having trouble explaining this.

    It's not Sadist Show or Comedic Sociopathy because it's not strictly about people getting hurt. I've read Comedic Sociopathy's description and it's basically a simpler way of saying "schadenfreude" with a hint of Asshole Victim thrown in. Similarly, Sadist Show is essentially an entire work built on the premise of Comedic Sociopathy, where all the entertainment value of the show comes from seeing objectively horrible individuals get their comeuppance.

    This trope is not that. Again, take Bender from Futurama as an example. Does he sometimes fall victim to Comedic Sociopathy? Yes. But it's not the point. In fact, he usually gets away with whatever bad thing he does. Instead, the point is simply to watch him do bad things and laugh about it. That's Laughably Evil, but then when we stretch that out to a point where everyone involved is either that at most, or a total Jerkass at the least, that is this trope.

    To put it another way, you see that Sadist Show is basically the trope of Comedic Sociopathy extended from something that is about single characters and made into the basic foundation for an entire show. This trope is basically the same thing being done to the Laughably Evil trope: taking what usually applies to one single character (often the Token Evil Teammate) and stretching it out to be the basis of an entire work - a vast majority of the characters are either Laughably Evil or at least Laughably Jerkasses.

    Is that more clear?
  • July 15, 2013
    DAN004
    Sir author, I guess you can turn this into a Missing Supertrope instead of a normal trope. Because of the sheer amount of related tropes...
  • July 18, 2013
    Knight9910
    Good idea, actually. I'll start working on a new description to turn this into a Supertrope.
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Bumping.
  • October 15, 2013
    Snicka
    Laughably Evil should definitely be mentioned in the description.
  • December 10, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Description:

    They say that all comedy is based off of misery. Unfortunately sometimes The Heroes are sticks in the mud or Friends To All Living Things, making them bad for comedy unless it's at their expense. Evil is just funnier because it unabashedly relishes in causing mischief and misery in others. This is also a classic way to portray certain Anti Heroes like the Heroic Comedic Sociopath who is used for Black Comedy moments and just loves committing evil acts.

    The reason for this is probably shock value. It might be unexpected to see a character who is so Laughably Evil and lacking in empathy that he has fun being evil just for the sake of getting a laugh. It may also be because these characters are just having so much fun with what they're doing that it's hard not to laugh along with them.

    This differs from Comedic Sociopathy in that it's not strictly about people getting hurt. Rather it's about watching a character do evil things and laughing about it. Because the evil acts are done in such an over the top and cartoony fashion it can't be taken completely seriously.

    This is Subtrope of Black Comedy. Compare Bloody Hilarious, Laughably Evil and Sliding Scale Of Comedy And Horror. See Dude Not Funny for when the audience thinks an evil or chaotic character's humor went too far.
  • December 10, 2013
    MorganWick
    If the trope is "everyone in the show is amoral", then OOTS doesn't count because it's just the one character (and probably falls under Comedic Sociopathy). Your trope also makes me think of Austin Powers, but I'm not sure if that really counts either. If we had a trope for "the show spends a disproportionate amount of time on the bad guys because they're funnier", then OOTS and Austin Powers would count for that (though in the case of OOTS for a different reason).
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Often villains who Poke The Poodle invokes this.
  • December 11, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^^ I don't think it's required at all for everyone in the entire work to be immoral jerks. There can still be good guys in the work. I think it's more more along the lines of the second thing you said. The evil/chaotic characters are just funnier and get more comedic focus because the good guys are all boring sticks in the mud.

    Although I've observed that in some cases we're meant to laugh with the immoral characters, and laugh at the heroes who are treated as Butt Monkeys because Good Is Dumb.
  • December 22, 2013
    MorganWick
    ^I'm basing my understanding off these comments by the OP:

    "Just to be clear, this isn't simply "a comedy movie has a bad guy." It's more along the lines of everyone being a bad guy. There are either no good guys or at best only a few and they're not all that good..."

    "...the point is simply to watch [Bender] do bad things and laugh about it. That's Laughably Evil, but then when we stretch that out to a point where everyone involved is either that at most, or a total Jerkass at the least, that is this trope."

    "This trope is basically the same thing being done to the Laughably Evil trope: taking what usually applies to one single character (often the Token Evil Teammate) and stretching it out to be the basis of an entire work - a vast majority of the characters are either Laughably Evil or at least Laughably Jerkasses."

    At the very least, I wouldn't apply that last sentence to OOTS.
  • December 22, 2013
    AP
    • The Joker is much funnier and (in some versions) light hearted than the dark and humorless Batman.
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