Created By: octopedingenue on December 29, 2011 Last Edited By: octopedingenue on November 15, 2015

Animal Machine Gag

Humor that arises from treating a living animal like a machine.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The comedy trope of living animals being treated like the literal version of Automaton Horses.

Take a horse, for an example. The horse is a living creature, not a Mechanical Horse, but its owner treats it like a car or other machine: filling up the horse's "tank" with water/hay as "fuel;" treating horse theft like car theft and even using the horse equivalent of Lojack, giving the horse racing stripes, taking it through a "car" wash, even "winding" its tail like a clockwork key to make the animal start moving.

There will be jokes about horsepower.

HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MECHA.

Usually seem in cartoons. Related to The Alleged Steed, the horsey version of The Alleged Car.

Examples:

  • At the 1991 Academy Awards, host Billy Crystal arrives onstage riding a horse in reference to the movie Dances with Wolves. When he dismounts, he hands the horse off to a parking valet to lead away, then points a car alarm remote at it and chirps it.
  • In a 2012 ad for Pace Picante sauce, a man who buys salsa made in New York City uses a car alarm on a horse.
  • A recurring trope in Discworld:
    • At least one Igor in Ankh-Morpork has taken up veterinary surgery in a "chop shop" fashion, meaning that a stolen horse whose markings are too distinctive for resale may reappear on the market with a different set of legs.
    • In Going Postal,a horse is "booted"- i.e., hobbled by a disabling device the way cars are.
  • In the Porky Pig cartoon "Ali Baba Bound," a camel is tanked with water or gasoline and its humps subsequently move like an engine pumping.
  • Several examples from The Far Side cartoons:
    • a clumsy cowboy knocks over a row of outlaws' horses in front of a saloon, in parody of knocking over a row of bikers' motorcycles in front of a bar.
    • a farmer out in the fields uses his "cowphone" to call his wife.
    • a horse tied up outside a saloon is sitting on a jack with its legs missing, in a parallel to tire theft.
  • The Flintstones is MADE of this trope: dinosaurs serve as living construction cranes, airplanes, elevators, etc.
  • Order Of The Stick:
    • In this strip, a camel is shown drinking from what appears to be a fuel pump at a gas station.
    • In this one, Haley complains to the owner of a parking lot that her horse has taken damage, but the owner asserts that management is not responsible for the condition of mounts.
  • In Prep and Landing, they rev up the engines on Santa's sleigh. This is done by an elf who psychs up the reindeer.
  • Sengoku Basara: My horse is a motorbike. Your argument is invalid.
  • In The Simpsons, the family is in exile on an island, and Homer tries to use a pelican as a cement mixer in parody of The Flintstones. When Homer tells it to say something witty, it falls over dead.
  • Steamboat Willie has Minnie Mouse playing a goat like a hurdy-gurdy by cranking its tail.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Two-Gun Goofy", Pete as an Old West bank robber treats his horse as a car, parallel parking it on front of the bank (crashing into the other horses in the process) and leaving the "motor" on.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • December 30, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Yiddish Policemens Union: a heifer "without blemish" is hidden in a Jewish farm in Native American territory by painting spots on it to hide its non-blemishness. It is used to rededicate the temple in Jerusulem.
  • December 30, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    I remember an old cartoon with a camel being tanked with water and subsequently, its two humps moving like an engine.
  • December 30, 2011
    octopedingenue
    randomsurfer: painting the cow isn't an example because they're still treating it as a cow (with spots). The Igor horse-disguising is an example because it's equivalent to an automobile chop shop swapping parts of a car to disguise it: unless you're a magical Igor, it's impossible to move a horse's body parts around like moving car parts, hence the comedy here.

    Mozgwsloiku: The engine-like camel IS an example, thanks. I'm vaguely reminded of seeing that cartoon too.
  • December 30, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Two Far Side cartoons:
    • a clumsy cowboy knocks over a row of outlaws' horses in front of a saloon, in parody of knocking over a row of bikers' motorcycles in front of a bar.
    • a farmer out in the fields uses his "cowphone" to call his wife.

  • December 30, 2011
    Ryuuma
    In Onimusha 2 the second Oni Orb release a living, mecha horse.
  • January 2, 2012
    octopedingenue
    Ryuuma: this trope does not include actual mecha horses.
  • January 2, 2012
    Shnakepup
  • January 4, 2012
    TrustBen
    Om The Simpsons, the family is in exile on an island and Homer tries to use a pelican as a cement mixer in parody of The Flintstones. When Homer tells it to say something witty, it falls over dead.
  • January 4, 2012
    SonicLover
    I'm pretty sure there was a third Far Side example with a sheriff removing the brain (engine) from an outlaw's horse in anticipation of his escape from jail.
  • January 4, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    ^Was there one where a horse was "booted"- i.e., hobbled by a disabling device the way cars are?

  • January 4, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^ The "booted horse" bit was definitely used in Going Postal.
  • January 5, 2012
    TonyG
    That title is too long and unwieldy. I suggest Animal Machine Gag.
    • In Prep And Landing, they rev up the engines on Santa's sleigh. This is done by an elf who psyches up the reindeer
  • December 15, 2012
    foxley
    Steamboat Willie has Minnie Mouse playing a goat like a hurdy-gurdy by cranking its tail.
  • December 15, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    The camel one was a Porky Pig cartoon: "Ali Baba Bound". May have been gasoline instead of water, actually.
  • December 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    At the 1991 Academy Awards host Billy Crystal arrives onstage riding a horse (in reference to Dances With Wolves). After he dismounts he hands it off to a parking valet to lead away, and he points a car alarm remote at it and chirps it. (The next year Billy does the same bit after being brought on in Hannibal Lecter gear. And again in 1993 after being dragged onstage by a harnassed Jack Palance [who had won Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers the previous year and started doing one-handed pushups onstage].)
  • December 17, 2012
    TonyG
    ^ Crystal coming in on a horse was most likely a reference to City Slickers than to Dances With Wolves.
  • December 17, 2012
    Astaroth
    • Order Of The Stick:
      • In this strip, a camel is shown drinking from what appears to be a fuel pump at a gas station.
      • In this one, Haley complains to the owner of a parking lot that her horse has taken damage, but the owner asserts that management is not responsible for the condition of mounts.
  • December 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^ Dances with Wolves (@ 7:40); Billy Crystal (Sorry for the Dances clip being restricted, it's the best I could find on short notice.) Also the 1991 Awards took place on March 25, and City Slickers didn't open until June of that year.

    • A 2012 ad for Pace Picante sauce uses the same gag, a man who buys salsa made in New York City uses a car alarm on a horse.
  • December 18, 2012
    Karalora
    In yet another example from The Far Side, a horse tied up outside a saloon is sitting on a jack with its legs missing (in a parallel to tire theft).
  • December 18, 2012
    TonyG
    • In the Classic Disney Short "Two-Gun Goofy", Pete as an Old West bank robber treats his horse as a car, parallel parking it on front of the bank (crashing into the other horses in the process) and leaving the "motor" on.
  • December 19, 2012
    GeminiSparkSP
  • November 14, 2015
    octopedingenue
    Bump?
  • November 14, 2015
    DAN004
  • November 15, 2015
    Snicka
    ^ Since My Horse Is A Motorbike is practically the Inverted Trope of this (treating a machine as if it was an animal), I'd say "Contrast" rather than "See also".
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=tut1na7w11axacol5g0zmqn5