"Before we begin, I must warn you... nothing here is vegetarian."
is often played for dark comedy. Cannibalism is gross, disturbing, and strongly taboo in many cultures, but less likely to get a Dude, Not Funny!
reaction than more common forms of violence. Because cannibalism is both taboo and outlandish, it's common Crosses the Line Twice
fodder. And food is funny
. Compare Eat the Dog
Black Comedy Cannibalism does not need to explicitly depict the act of eating people, and in fact, often it doesn't. It can be just as funny when the actual cannibalism is implied or offstage, and the humor comes from the incongruity of juxtaposing the horrors of cannibalism and murder with the mundanity of cooking and menu planning. Groan-worthy cannibalism puns are also a distinct possibility. Meat-O-Vision
may occur if a character considers cannibalism because they're starving.
A common variant is the gag where the characters are captured by
a Cannibal Tribe
and placed in a pot to be Stewed Alive
, accompanied with lots of wisecracking or corny byplay.
Black Comedy Cannibalism can also provide uncomfortable comic relief in a work with a Faux Affably Evil
If someone unintentionally becomes a Humanitarian
, may overlap with I Ate What?
- The French series Les Crannibales is all about this, with the titular family's cannibalism being a pretext for atrocious food-related puns. The victims themselves don't even seem that disturbed by it.
- Cannibal The Musical is a multiple-line-crossing musical about cannibalism by the creators of South Park.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "In the frozen land of Nador, they were forced to eat Robin's minstrels. And There Was Much Rejoicing." "Yaaayyy."
- As suggested by its Spoiler Title, Eating Raoul concludes with the main characters, a sexless married couple who make a fortune off of killing "rich perverts," serving the titular character as a meal to a real estate agent.
- Lucky Stiff. In this horror/comedy, a beautiful woman invites a man to Christmas dinner with her family, He finds out that he is intended to be the main course.
- Delicatessen is a very dark French comedy set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanitarianism has become a popular response to food shortages.
- In Reefer Madness The Musical, Ralph gets a serious case of the munchies from smoking too much pot and ends up eating Sally.
- In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frank N. Furter reveals that the meal that Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott, and Rocky had was actually the freshly-killed ex-delivery boy Eddie, whom humorously enough is played by Meat Loaf.note
- In Spanish film "La Matanza de los Garrulos Lisérgicos".
- Any part of Ravenous that isn't horror is this.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack Sparrow gets Captured by Cannibals who intend to make him a meal. Hilarity Ensues with his attempts to escape, including at one point resigning himself to his fate and sprinkling himself with steak seasoning.
- Two cannibals are having dinner. "You know what?" says one. "I hate my mother-in-law." The other says, "So, just eat the salad."
- Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny!
- A Cannibal Tribe captures a troupe of actors. "Oh good," says the chief, "ham sandwiches!"
Live Action TV
- Several references toward this in Monstrous Regiment, concerning the desperate state of supplies in the Borogravian army on campaign. Even one of their frequent opponents, a Zlobenian Captain 'Hopalong' Splatzer, confirms this is expected in winter warfare around the area rather than the usual saner idea of giving up until spring for pre-industrial militaries. We also learn that while they do accept having to eat people's legs for food, they're shocked at the idea of eating their own legs regardless and thus them swap around.
- In The Mockery Bird, Kingy, the native king of a tropical island, occasionally suggests that they should reintroduce cannibalism to the island, just to make his advisors cringe from the idea.
- Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal calls for poor Irish to sell their young children as food for wealthy English gentlemen, so they are no longer a burden to society. He was satirizing some prevailing attitudes toward the poor and the Irish in contemporary (1700s) English society. He goes into some detail in suggestions for the preparation and cooking of such children, and the economic "benefits" of such an arrangement for all involved (who are still living of course).
- Kurt Vonnegut jokes in his novel Hocus Pocus that "people that can eat people are the luckiest people I know" while referring to the Donner Party. The band Andrew Jackson Jihad named their most popular album after this quote.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas' song about Augustus Gloop — who, having fallen into the Chocolate Room's river, has just been sucked into a pipe headed for a room where a particular variety of fudge is prepared — claims that while he "will not be harmed", "he will be altered quite a bit"...And that's okay, because he was such a brat that nobody liked him anyway, whereas "who could bear or hold a grudge/Against a lucious bit of fudge?" The 2013 stage musical's version of this sequence ("Auf Wiedersehen Augustus Gloop") makes this trope's presence much more explicit and cheerier to boot!
- Monty Python's Flying Circus
- The "Lifeboat" sketch, about cannibalism among shipwrecked sailors. It degenerates into an argument about the culinary merits of the various sailors, and then a navy spokesman appears on the screen to object to the portrayal of cannibalism in the British navy. (After all, the real cannibalism problem is in the RAF.)
- One sketch had a restaurant that served human beings as meals, including one man who is voluntarily allowing himself to be eaten and a vicar who no one wanted to eat. Watch it here.
- In another Monty Python sketch a man talks to an undertaker about burying his mother and the undertaker suggests eating her instead.
- The gorgeously-shot gourmet cooking in Hannibal is all made by a Supreme Chef cannibal, which gives the Food Porn scenes an uncomfortable subtext. The show sometimes plays this for dark humor. For instance, in
Hannibal (hosting a dinner party featuring beautifully prepared human organs): Before we begin eating, you must all be warned: Nothing here... is vegetarian. Bon appétit.
- In the same episode, Jack's team is examining the Chesapeake Ripper's (i.e. Hannibal's) latest victims. When they note that one corpse is had its intestines removed, they quip that "either someone's got short bowels or someone's making sausages". Gilligan Cut to Hannibal doing exactly that.
- This exchange from "Ouef":
Jack: What am I about to put into my mouth?
Jack: [smiles] He should have hopped faster.
[Sudden flashback to Hannibal chasing his victim, who stumbles and takes on a distinctly hopping sort of gait as he tries to get away]
Hannibal: Yes, he should have. Fortunately for us, he did not.
- A recurring threat on Gilligan's Island are cannibal tribes from nearby islands. Although that might have solved all their problems.
- This was spoofed in the "Bartygan's Island" sketch in the first episode of Short Ribbs. An apparent food shortage on the island causes the Gilligan expy to dream that he and the Skipper expy (played by Billy Barty) have eaten four of the other castaways, and the only other survivor is Jasmine (a Ginger expy played by Patty Maloney). "Skipper" becomes the next meal … then "Gilligan" wakes up and "Skipper" is still alive. When asked what he wants for breakfast, "Gilligan" sleepily asks for Jasmine.
- An infamous sketch on Fridays was "Diner of the Living Dead" where a human couple happen upon a diner for zombies.
- Series 3 finale (BonesS3E15)
Cam: A toothless cannibal just can't cut it in today's competitive serial killer climate.
Cam: [describing a bone to Caroline Julian] Gormogon went after this like Henry VIII after a chicken leg.
Angela Montenegro: Mmm, what is that smell?
'''Wendall Bray: 'Oh, I cant use the exhaust system without electricity, so i thought it'd be better to clean the bones out here where there's more airflow.
Angela Montenegro: Oh my God! You're boiling body parts.
Wendell Bray: This is how it's done. You know that.
Angela Montenegro: No. No. I was getting kind of hungry and I thought that you were - Oh my God!
Wendell Bray: You're pregnant. The smell of boiling flesh makes you want a sandwich.
- An episode of The IT Crowd has Moss answer an advertisement he thinks is for cooking class, only to discover it's actually a German cannibal fetishist looking for a victim. They both have a good laugh over it.
Moss: He was a fine young cannibal.
- An episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Charlie and Dee believe they've accidentally eaten human meat and start experiencing "the hunger".
- On Seinfeld Kramer starts using butter as shaving cream, then as body lotion. When he stays out in the sun too long and starts to cook, Newman gets cannibalistic cravings.
- Not so much cannibalism, as he sees Kramer as a giant turkey, with Kramer's head.
- Sons of Anarchy has an episode which literally involves cannibalism, but the comedy comes in the anatomical puns made over the pot. Someone's in a little over his head...
- In Fallout: New Vegas, the entire side quest taking place in the White Glove Society relates to cannibalism and involves a bit of innuendo and occasional humor. And then there is the character "Cannibal Johnson" who isn't actually a cannibal (having gained the nickname from taking a bite out of a raider's heart in order to scare off the raider's buddies) but enjoys the effect of the reputation.
- The cafe in the student center at the University of Colorado is the Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill. Motto: "Have a friend for lunch."
- The Catholic saint Lawrence of Rome is almost the patron saint of this trope. As the tale goes, Lawrence was a deacon in charge of the church's distribution of alms in 3rd Century Rome, under Valerian's persecution. The Roman prefect demanded Lawrence turn over the church's wealth that he handled as part of his job. Lawrence produced a bunch of beggars and declared them the church's wealth (having already given the money away), and in retribution the prefect roasted him on a large gridiron. Lawrence's final words as he cooked to death were, "I'm well done. Turn me over!" For his martyrdom he was sainted, and he is the patron of both comedians and chefs.
- Cracked even quipped that St. Lawrence might have been the first, and most accurate, user of the insult-comeback "Bite me!"