The use of captions in visual media in order to invoke a humorous effect. Specifically, the caption uses the scene as a joke setup and delivers a punchline to it. This includes commenting the scene, pointing out the obvious or even absolute non sequiturs. Is the core premise to Caption Contests. Sister Tropes to Fun with Subtitles.
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Anime & Manga
- Used often in Ouran High School Host Club as a lot of its humor revolves around wordplay.
- Used in recent X-Men comics, providing a brief, usually humorous bio of any character who shows up, including these two, which popped up during a Fastball Special.
Colussus: Bio-organic steel. Fastball tops out at 220 miles per hour.
Wolverine: Claws and healing factor. Currently moving at 220 miles per hour.
Films — Live Action
- The opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail has this, with inane comments about mooses and llamas.
- Help! uses them. The funniest moment is probably when a tiger enters the scene and the caption "A Tiger" pops up on the screen.
- A scene in Thank You For Smoking has a terribly funny derogatory caption when the boss says the word "environmentalist".
- In the DVD Bonus Content for Daybreakers, there's a behind the scenes look at shooting a particular scene, with "Drunken Idiot Ruining Take" following, well, a drunken idiot running in the background ruining the take.
- Wayne's World has a scene where Wayne delivers a weepy monologue with the caption "Oscar Clip".
Live Action TV
- The "Spanish Inqusition" sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus has the caption "DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER" followed with "DIABOLICAL ACTING".
- And the "Architects" sketch, in which the caption "SATIRE" starts flashing over a very obvious piece of satire.
- There was a very similar thing in the opening of The Day Today: Chris Morris would read out an ostensible headline and then a piece of genuine news footage would play to humourous effect.
- Hey Hey Its Saturday would have amusing sarcastic captions show up every now and again. Caricatures of the guests would serve the same purpose. Note: these were all done live.
- Burn Notice initially used captions to identify people that Michael was dealing with, but they have started to become more comical, such as repeating an earlier assessment of a character, identifying them as "Arrogant Jerk" or something similar.
- Much of the humor of "The Word" segments on The Colbert Report arises from the captions at the side of the screen, clarifying or elaborating upon what Stephen says aloud.
- Sometimes the captions take a life of their own. When Colbert started bashing on Islam in one episode, the captions tried to leave, but Colbert forced them to stay.
- The Revolution Will Be Televised has a recurring segment called "Honest Subtitles", in which various politicians have their speeches replayed, only stripped of their flowery speech to reflect their (possible) true meaning.
- Regular feature of any magazine aimed at young adults. Particularly the case in lad's mags like FHM and Loaded.
- Private Eye has a regular feature where readers write in to point out that two famous people look vaguely alike. The relevance to this trope comes in because the editors invariably switch the names captioning the two photographs being compared, as though they were so alike that nobody could tell which was which.
- Chopping Block pages consist entirely of an usually silent picture and a caption.
- Whenever a new character is introduced in Every Button Hurts the Other Guy, their name is given in a caption box, accompanied by a humorous title or description.
- RWBY Recaps uses captions as the crux of its humor. (Unlike most Abridged Series, it isn't animated.)
- The Spoony Experiment uses these a lot.
- Sometimes used on this very Wiki.
- Often used on Flickr, especially with photos of museum displays where the real exhibit caption can't be seen. One example had a human standing next to a rocket for scale and the caption was: "You should never stand this close to a rocket. Unless you are demonstrating how cool it is."
- In The Onion AV Club, they used to do a humorous caption for a pic from one of the movies being reviewed that week, but they haven't done it in years.
- Running rampant on the Internet, particularly Imageboards and DeviantArt, are De/Motivators, which are designed in the vein of typical office motivational posters.
- From Cracked, we got Craptions!
- Many YouTube gameplay videos utilize this technique to remain interesting.
- The Blurb versions of Happy Tree Friends episodes.
- Todd in the Shadows uses captions as a Running Gag. He often interacts with them too.
- JonTron, whose most distinct feature is his unique blend of captions and editing. In Game Grumps, the editor Barry adopts Jon's style of captions, sometimes to communicate with the audience.
- DVDizzy reviews make liberal use of this.
- In Ultra Fast Pony, the captions are basically another Lemony Narrator. Most of the time they mock the show and the characters, and in one episode they get in an argument with an unintelligible character by covering up her translated subtitles.
- KurtJMac would often use the affectionately-dubbed 'snarky yellow text' to make fun of himself in early Far Lands or Bust episodes. It would also supply additional information, such as when a word was on the tip of his tongue and he couldn't quite remember it.
- Chuggaaconroy usually uses captions when he catches a contradiction to his commentary in post-processing (sometimes to humorous effect). This extends to videos on The Runaway Guys, since Chugga also edits those videos (which is Played for Laughs by ProtonJon a couple of times).
- TFWiki.net is welcome on these on images on their articles, as a way to avoid Department of Redundancy Department. However, it does have a set of rules as to what is or isn't appropriate.
- RockedReviews indulges in this. Much of the comic relief of the show comes from speech bubbles that add jokes or witty insight into a band or event he's talking about, or just add humor to whatever picture's being shown.
- Looney Tunes had funny scientific names for the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
- In "Wackiki Wabbit," Bugs Bunny poses as an island native for the benefit of two castaways. He utters a lengthy sentence in native gibberish and the caption simply reads "What's up, doc?" He utters four syllables in the same tongue and the caption reads "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party."