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Black Comedy Cannibalism
"Before we begin, I must warn you... nothing here is vegetarian."

Cannibalism 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 cannibal villain.

If someone unintentionally becomes a Humanitarian, may overlap with I Ate What?.

Examples:

Comics
  • 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.

Fanfiction

Film

Jokes
  • 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!"

Literature
  • 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!

Live Action TV
  • 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?
      Hannibal: Rabbit.
      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.
  • Bones:
    • 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.
    • BonesS6E16 -
    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...

Music
  • In the song "Timothy" by The Buoys the singer is lamenting the loss of his friend Timothy, who it's very strongly implied was eaten by the singer and another man while they were all stuck in a caved-in mine.
  • The song "Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf" by Rob Cantor is a mock horror about being stalked by Shia LaBeouf as a serial killer and cannibal.
  • Voltaire's "Cannibal Buffet" is a Hurricane of Puns about the singer becoming shipwrecked and kidnapped and eaten by a tribe of cannibals.
  • "Comin' Back for More" by CW McCall, very loosely based on the case of Alferd Packer, the only person ever to be prosecuted for cannibalism in the US. note 
  • In "Petrov, Yeleyena, and Me" by Flight of the Conchords, the narrator describes being lost at sea with two others. He is gradually eaten by his companions, waking up every morning to find a new body part missing. They deny it, but look "suspiciously well fed". In the end, he takes arsenic to poison his meat.
  • In "The Reluctant Cannibal" a teen cannibal rebels by not eating people.
    Father: But people have always eaten people, what else is there to eat? If the juju had meant us not to eat people, he wouldn't have made us of meat.
  • The Tom Petty music video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" ends with Tom (as the Mad Hatter) and the rest of the Mad Tea Party guests eating Alice, who has been turned into a cake.

Theatre

Video Games
  • 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.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • South Park: During a blackout the adults of town, trapped in a small shack, resort to cannibalism of Eric Roberts after a short time being trapped without power. "It's only been like, four hours. Aren't you resorting to cannibalism a little quickly?"
    • In "Scott Tenorman Must Die," Cartman tricks a teenage bully into eating his own parents. Unfortunately for him, it was later revealed that both boys shared a father.
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Marge's fear of flying resurfaces, Homer tries buying movies of planes to help calm her. Of course he chooses Alive on the basis of its title.
    Passenger: (eating sounds) Pass another hunk of Copilot.
    • In the segment 'Nightmare Cafeteria' of Halloween special episode "Treehouse of Horror V", the teachers of Springfield Elementary solve both the underfunding of the school cafeteria and the overcrowding of the detention room by serving misbehaving students in the cafeteria.
    Principal Skinner: Oh, relax kids. I've got a gut feeling Uter's around here somewhere. (starts to laugh) After all, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? (laughs harder) In fact, you might say we just ate Uter and he's in our stomachs right now! {Beat) Wait. Scratch that one.
    • In the Treehouse of Horror segment 'Survival of the Fattest', Mr. Burns is hunting down the male population of Springfield for sport on a safari. After running for only a few hours, Homer already resorts to cannibalism by eating Professor Frink. When Lenny points out the edible fruits on a nearby tree, Homer protests that they look a little green.
  • A Lighter and Softer version of this trope occurs in Stroker and Hoop, when the guys encounter a creepy club of cannibals who eat nonessential parts like tonsils and appendices.
  • American Dad!: The Smiths were taking a cruise ship vacation, things went wrong and they along with a girl from the ship that Steve was attracted to ended up stranded on a remote island where some rich guys declared that they'd hunt them. After hiding in a cave a cave-in killed the girl and trapped the Smiths there. Starving the Smiths decided to eat the body. Then they found out the hunters had paintball guns and they'd stumbled across a themed resort.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Into Fat Air," the Griffin family attempt to climb Mt. Everest and wind up eating the frozen corpse of a boy, which Peter tactlessly reveals to the boy's parents.
  • The Belcher family in Bob's Burgers were originally intended to be cannibals who made their restaurant's hamburgers out of human meat.
  • One Robot Chicken skit reveals that Krabby Patties are made out of crab meat in a parody of Soylent Green.
  • In Regular Show, season 5, "Every Meat Burritos", there's a drive-thru restaurant that serves a burrito that has every meat in it, including "long pig", which is another name for human flesh.
    • In an earlier episode, living sausages eat each other up because they're covered in mustard.
  • In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy a class trip ends up with the cast stranded in the desert. They bring up the possibility of having to eat each other to survive, causing Sperg to see Billy and Irwin with Meat-O-Vision ("You dropped your pickle." "Thank!"). At the end of the episode they do find food, and Pud'n is relieved that they won't have to eat other each. Cut to Sperg with several legs sticking out of mouth, who then says "Well. Tough luck for you, kid."

Real Life
  • 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!"
AutocannibalismFood TropesCannibal Clan
Black Comedy BurstComedy TropesBlack Comedy Rape

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