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Funny Background Event
"What kind of an emergency? What's the rush to get off the planet all of a sudden?" "KAY! KAAAAY!"

The humorous counterpart to the Meaningful Background Event, and sometimes overlaps with Distant Reaction Shot.

Sometimes, a scene contains something funny going on in the background. Very often it is used during a conversation and if you are paying too much attention to the foreground, you may even miss the scene, especially if (as is often the case) the characters are looking away from it. The event can contain simple slapstick humor, or be an inside gag. It doesn't have to be subtle, sometimes it is obvious while the conversation is unimportant. The important thing is that it is played in the background and is at least somewhat funny or cool.

Despite the name, sometimes this can actually be in the foreground, but the important point is that the audience has their attention directed elsewhere.

Occasionally, this might be a result of Artificial Atmospheric Actions.

Examples:


    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • An advertisement from about 10 years ago (probably for an Internet search engine or some such) has as its tagline, "There's fun stuff everywhere. You just need to know where to look." In the immediate foreground we see a dour-faced man stepping out of a subway car while further back in the subway station, almost too far away to be seen, the doors to another subway car are opening and several circus clowns are stepping out! Made even funnier by the fact that the clowns have dour facial expressions, too.
  • State Farm has a commercial out now (2011) featuring a guy claiming the money he saved on insurance bought him a falcon. The end of the commercial draws attention to a guy who used his savings to buy samurai armor, but throughout the commercial there are people walking by with all sorts of things, including a cockatoo, a clown car, a stuffed moose head, etc.
  • During the Compare the Meerkat advert "The Battle Of Fearlessness" there are two soldier meerkats throwing sandballs at each other near the start.
  • One of the commercials for Mio Energy involves every scene having something different. The only thing that doesn't change is an older worker pushing a cart.

     Fanfics 

    Magazines 
  • These are seen in MAD, most often in their television or film parodies.

    Music 
  • Vanity Police's video for "Things You Don't Mean" has a rather hilarious moment where someone's cat walks onto the set in the middle of the video and starts nudging the scenery. You have to wonder who didn't make sure that the cat couldn't get in while they were filming it...
  • In The Beatles song "Girl," the word "tit" gets repeatedly chanted in the background of the the middle eight.
    • The video for "Day Tripper". John and Paul sing blissfully with their guitars, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Ringo Starr is destroying parts of the set with a saw. To cap it off, only George notices.
    • A black-and-white performance video of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" has John sitting at the harmonium making goofy faces, sometimes playing one note at a time, and peering mischievously towards the camera, while Paul does his best not to lose his composure.
  • In the music video for Fall Out Boy's song “Just One Yesterday”, guest singer Foxes decides to climb halfway out of the car she's driving to sing her verse with the wind dramatically blowing her hair. Meanwhile, we see Patrick desperately trying to control the car from the passenger seat.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Not as frequent as Meaningful Background Event, which generally occur when wrestlers run in without any music announcing, but every now and then you have something hilarious going on in the background.
  • Famously, during a match that ended up backstage between Booker T and The Big Show, Triple H and Ric Flair seemingly randomly drove a forklift by the match.
  • While Vince McMahon was doing a walk to his limo (where he would eventually be "killed" in an explosion), you could see him pass by Paul London who, in contrast to the serious mood the production was attempting to set, was visibly trying not to crack up. (This incident was rumored to be why he was fired later.)
  • An unintentional one happened at the WWF Free For All (a pre-game show) before the first No Way Out. Vader was being interviewed by Sunny, and near the end, a nearby door opens and Road Warrior Hawk steps out, looks around, and quickly backs away. The look on his face was priceless.
    • Something similar happened on an episode of Raw once during the invasion when The Rock was being interview by Kevin Kelly in front of his "personal dressing room." The door opened and Pat Patterson comes out and quickly goes back in.
  • During the in-ring introductions for the ECW World Television Champion Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match at ECW Living Dangerously, March 1, 1998, a fan in the crowd was able to get a "TAZ FEARS GOLDBERG" sign positioned right above and behind Taz's head.
  • July 7, 2014: During a match between Bo Dallas and El Torito, someone in the crowd yelled, "Motherfucker!" The rest of the crowd starts looking around trying to find who said that.

    Tabletop Games 

    Roleplay 
  • Destroy The Godmodder: is full of them. What is relevant to the plot isn't always what attracts the attention of the players...
    • TT2000 recently declared war on Minor's fly armies.
      • Then in the off-topic thread Opel and TT started arguing over how stupid it was.
    • engie and piono introduced each other to their split personalities.
      • Followed by eye rolling and sarcastic remarks from other posters and the forum equivalent of a facepalm from Twinbuilder.
    • Some of the mini-flame wars that occasionally start between the players.
      • Made funnier by the rest of the players telling them to shut up, and once even the godmodder stepping in to shut it down.

    Theater 
  • In at least one Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production of A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge is in the future listening to the businessmen discussing his funeral, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come stands calmly in the background, reading the newspaper.
  • In Wicked, while the focus is on Elphaba, Nessarose makes some fairly hilarious hand gestures when she sings "Munchkin boy". (Poor Boq.)
  • In Haunted by Eric Chappell, the ghost of Lord Byron haunts a writer going through a mid-life crisis. The woman he's having an affair with (another writer) comes in brandishing a newspaper review, which she tells him to read, but says not to look at her quoted age. Byron's ghost, being present at the time and only visible to the protagonist has a great opportunity to look over her shoulder at the review, double-check how old the female writer is, and react with some degree of incredulity.
  • In Pokémon Live!, during the Dark Reprise of "You And Me and Pokemon", Professor Oak is banging on the bars of the cage he's locked in and climbing on them.
  • In A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, during the last part of the beautiful song "Inside Out," we see Henry D'ysquith helplessly running from the killer bees, lured by a magical dose of English lavender sprayed on the beekeeping helmet, that lead to his tragic demise.

    Theme Parks 
  • Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D at Walt Disney World has this at least twice. It's fairly obvious that while Dr. Bunsen is explaining his invention, Beaker is getting heavily pounded by said invention. But most viewers of the 3D film are too busy watching Kermit give a tour of the inside of Muppet Labs to notice that in one scene, Scooter and Janice ride across the hallway in the background on a double-seat bicycle. Especially notable since it's one of the very few times you can see Muppets' legs.


Funny Answering MachineComedy TropesFunny Foreigner

alternative title(s): Background Gags
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