Slang is funny!
The way to capitalize on this funny is to introduce a hip, streetwise character who speaks entirely in an urban dialect that is almost (or entirely) incomprehensible by the suburban honkeys at whom the show is aimed.
Generally, any slang involved will be at least five years out of date (or more), because it takes about that long for it to bubble up (or sink down) to the TV writers. It will also be toned down to remove profanity and vulgarities.
For extra comedy, the character who speaks in slang should be for some reason unable to stop speaking in slang, as if it were a foreign language. He'll insist on speaking only in impenetrable slang even in contexts where even the least streetwise punk would realize he'd get farther if he lightened up a bit.
The lightest form of this will involve a character trying to high-five a "square" (or some other "hip" handshaking alternative), who is so unhip that he has no idea at all how to return the gesture. This at least is Truth in Television.
For extra bonus points:
Have the slang-speaker actually call the square a "Jive turkey".
Generally, by the end of the episode, our hero will have gained a new respect for the slang-speaker, and the last line of the episode will be the hero using some line of slang correctly, demonstrating that he is now hip to their jive, homes.
If hip streetwise folks ever spoke like that, they certainly don't now. Because the speakers are generally of a darker complexion than the regulars, this probably feeds the stereotype that persons of color are inarticulate (and that persons of non-color are tongue-tied and boring), even though street lingo can be quite elaborate. (Indeed, Muhammad Ali is universally recognized as one of the most eloquent athletes of his generation, inspiring a lot of modern-day Trash Talk.) Thankfully, this is now a Discredited Trope. Unfortunately, it proves to be quite the resilient Undead Horse Trope and is still actively used in sitcoms and kid shows.
Compare Totally Radical. Often afflicts a Disco Dan. Not to be confused with Buffy Speak.
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In the last episode of .hack//SIGN, Balmung says "This shindig looks like the bomb-diggity!" to the other characters' shock.
Eureka Seven has Moondoggy. In one episode, he launches a string of slang intended to explain something to Renton, who promptly asks the other character in the room for a translation. It is a Shout-Out to the original Gidget surfer movies. Original Moondoggie too was the boyfriend of the titular character, and spoke that way.
Full Metal Panic!: In the episode "A Hostage with No Compromises", The student council president must translate from street slang to military terms for Sousuke and then back again; seeing him speak street slang is hilarious, it's so unlike his cultured personality.
Especially when he begins a response with "Listen,bitch" in the exact same polite tone he always uses.
Solomon, a verbally gifted creature of the simian persuasion from Tom Strong, espouses quite singularly in the vernacular one might expect of a British gentleman late of The Gay Nineties, eh wot? Humorously, a look into the future of 2050 shows that his son Augustus speaks solely in slang from the 1950s, pops.
Go-Go Chex from The DCU and especially Ambush Bug: Year None. Let's just say he's one hip swinger, Clyde, and leave it at that.
Back in the day before he was reinvented by the film portrayal, Blade was a fro sporting, bright clothes clad, jive and trash talking kinda guy.
Cheng Bo Sen in Gun Fu speaks entirely in ridiculous hip-hop lingo that was stale by the time it came out in 2003... but the comic is set in 1936. And nobody comments on his bizarre speech pattern.
Played for laughs in a few 1970s Avengers stories; after The Falcon grudgingly joins the team on the orders of Henry Gyrich (who wanted to make it more ethnically diverse), he speaks this way on purpose to annoy Gyrich.
Sirius: Moony, I am getting the distinct impression that you are not hip to my jive. Are you or are you not hip to my jive?
Remus: Something is wrong with your brain.
Devin from Total Drama School speaks almost entirely in jive.
'70s/'80s TV examples may be influenced by "Blaxploitation" films, which were often terrible in this respect. How the black actors managed to say that stuff with a straight face and not strangle the screenwriter is shocking sometimes.
Tropic Thunder: Alpa Chino calls Kirk Lazarus out for this during the "filming".
Airplane!: A gag repeated in both movies: two passengers speak only in jive, and can only be understood via an elderly white lady — "Oh, Stewardess! I speak jive." The comedic effect of having English subtitles is sometimes lost when TV showings omit the subtitles; the subtitling reveals their conversation to be perfectly sensible.
This one is made even funnier in the German dub. Seeing an elderly woman converse with two afro-americans in a very thick Bavarian accent is hilarious.
It's also Barbara Billingsley, a.k.a. June Cleaver from the most white-bread and square show ever, Leave It to Beaver, speaking jive.
Pootie Tang: The title character takes this trope to its incomprehensible extreme.
Black Mama White Mama, being a 70's exploitation film, indulges in this. The word "Jive" comes up several times, but never Turkey unfortunately...
Played with in Goldmember, where Austin Powers and his father Nigel Powers have a conversation nearly entirely in Cockney rhyming slang. Subtitles keep up for a while, but are eventually reduced to "?????????????????...tea kettle!" Bonus points for Michael Caine being Cockney in real life.
In Transformers (2007), Jazz does this entirely during his introduction and occasionally through the film, though it's mostly due to his learning English via the internet, and also as he's always been the Autobot most into absorbing "hip culture."
Sam's mother in Transformers 1 spoke of giving her dog jewelery by painfully claiming that she was "giving him some bling"; though in all probability, the audience was supposed to be laughing at her and not with her.
Basher Tarr in Oceans Eleven delivers several lines in an impenetrable mix of Cockney rhyming slang and technical jargon. Examples include:
Basher: That poxy demo crew haven't used a coaxial feed to batten the main line, have they? Instead they've gone and nosed up the backup grid, nosed it right up!
Reuben:[to Livingston] Do you understand any of this?
Basher: So unless we intend to do this job in Reno, we're in barney.
Basher: Barney Rubble.
[they look bewildered]
For the record, you'd have a lot of trouble finding anyone English who actually talks like that. Unless they're being played by Dick Van Dyke.
In The Limey, Terence Stamp's character occasionally speaks a bit of Cockney slang, forcing him to repeat himself and explain the word.
At one point, after a particularly grievous monologue:
Head DEA Agent: There's one thing I don't understand. The thing I don't understand is every motherfuckin' word you're saying.
Parodied in Semi Pro when Will Arnett's character goes nuts during a poker game when he is called a "jive turkey''.
Seen in Better Off Dead, when Lane's father is trying to use slang, but gets the prepositions all wrong, resulting in gems like "Mellow off", "Bringing me over", and "Right off!". Made worse, perhaps in that he's reading these phrases from a book about how to talk to teenagers.
There's actually a film calledJive Turkey. As you might imagine, it's full of this trope.
Black Dynamite is a parody of Blaxplotiation films and is, predictably, full of this.
Jax in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. "You gon' fight Shao Kahn in his crib?" Ugh... It's especially ear-wrenching to hear because his video game counterpart doesn't come across that way at all.
In A Song Is Born, Buck and Bubbles (and later, Honey and the other musicians) introduce the professors to a whole new way of talking, as well as a new kind of music. It comes in handy at the end, as they use their new hep cat lingo as Spy Speak to outwit the gangsters.
Subverted by the character of Yo-less in Terry Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a black character who makes a particular point of not speaking in a stereotypical manner and acquired his nickname through never having used the word "yo".
Parodied in Soul Music when the wizards, under the influence of Music With Rocks In, start using 1950s slang. Ridcully is as immune to slang as he is to quantum physics lingo, and comments that the Dean's cool new trousers are "better than a thick robe in this hot weather."
Reaper Man, the Dean gets some sort of military-Rambo complex and cannot stop saying "yo" at every possible opportunity. Until Ridcully threatens him with a lengthy and dire punishment unless he stops saying it. The Bursar, always a step behind everyone else, finally manages a "Yo-yo."
Spook in the first book of the Mistborn series speaks solely in "Eastern street slang." It's all but incomprehensible, even to people in-story.
Forgotten Realms: Planescape slang. Looks dangerously brain-entangling when used in non-Planescape story. E.g. when in Finder's Bane characters travel to Sigil, every basher around immediately hear these berks are Clueless.
The three members of Able Team (a Heroes R Us action series from the 1980's) would speak jive (or sometimes bad Spanish) when they wanted to exchange information without English-speaking foreigners being able to understand them.
In Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death, there's a union organizer from a banjo pick factory who speaks entirely in jive. His main plot function is to allow the protagonists to meet the Chicken Man, who translates the organizer's speech from jive into something more comprehensible.
The WWE tag-team Cryme Tyme is another extreme example of this trope (exaggerated for comedic effect), and a vignette with Degeneration X managed to hit two out of three bonus points, with Shawn Michaels speaking fluent hip-hop slang (even admonishing Triple H to "let me handle this, I speak Jive", an obvious Shout-Out to Airplane!), and Triple H playing the dorky white guy who spouts a slang word and gets laughed at.
WWE offers another (somewhat subversive) example in Theodore R. Long, general manager of Smackdown, who, despite talking like a complete jive turkey, dresses in business suits and is a well-respected authority figure.
A mild version occasionally features in Scrubs, where J.D. is sometimes confused by Turk's slang, and sometimes attempts to talk to him in his own idea of black slang. There's nothing excessive about Turk's use of slang, but J.D. is so clueless the trope happens anyway. Subverted in the episode "Her Story", when Elliot and her friend Molly ("the two whitest chicks in America") corrected Turk's inaccurate "translation" of rap lyrics.
Scrubs seems to get on well with this one. When Carla's brother Marco is first introduced, he (apparently) speaks only Spanish. Later in the episode, he and Carla are conversing in Spanish in front of Turk, who responds by speaking in his own 'secret language', involving adding 'izzle' to the end of everything... Carla hasn't a clue what he's talking about.
Subverted in (original) V with Elias Taylor talking in jive and his respectable brother, Benjamin, who talks in perfectly erudite English, tells to stop using such bad grammar in a "poor man's Richard Pryor act."
In the QI episode "Cockneys", Stephen announces that "any flamencos you give in Pyong score Barney, and I'll also give you two Sundays..." before Alan Davies, a Essex native, asks him "What the fuck are you talking about?"
Stephen: If you woman... Bill Bailey: "Woman"? Stephen: "Woman who does" — "buzz." Phill Jupitus:"Woman who does"? Oh, we're doing middle-class Cockney rhyming slang! Stephen: It was all I could think of!
Parodied in Monty Python's Flying Circus with the RAF Banter sketch, where none of the pilots or officers can understand a word of what the others are saying. Made all the funnier by the characters seeming to be aware of the problem but helpless to do anything about it:
Squiffy: No, I'm just not understanding banter at all well today. Give us it slower!
Squadron Leader: Banter's not the same if you say it slower, Squiffy.
How I Met Your Mother introduced a concept called "Revertigo" where, when people who knew each other in the past are reunited, they start talking and acting the way they did when they knew each other. Cue Lily and her high school friend Michelle suddenly speaking in Jive Turkey whenever they're in a room together.
On the US version of The Office, Darryl is fond of pranking Michael by making up ridiculous "black man phrases" to teach him.
The local beat cops Hoppy and Smitty on Sanford and Son. Hoppy, the whitest of white guys, would try to speak jive and get it wrong, or would deliver a line of copspeak with a gratuitous big word or two for good measure causing Fred and everyone else to give him a blank look and then turn to Smitty for a translation.
Hoppy: All right, let's crack!
Smitty: You mean "split".
Hoppy: Uh, right, split!
Parodied in an episode of Community. The main characters are playing a video game designed by a [dead] old racist. One level has Jive Turkeys as enemies.
Pierce: Let's carve that jive turkey!
1970's bittersweet BBC sitcom Butterflies focused, as BBC sitcoms tend to, on the usual sort of mum-dad-and-two-kids affluent middle class family living in a nice part of London. Put-upon housewife Wendy Craig is taken for granted by her husband and two teenage sons - who in the 1970's talked, at best, in teenage slang that was only ten years out of date. Even in the late 1970's when most kids were getting into punk rock, the two sons stood out horribly as Teenagers That Time Forgot, talking hippie argot that would have been horribly stale and dated in 1967.
Denzil from Only Fools and Horses in his first appearance only, as it was immediately realised what a bad idea this was.
Category for the 1970s-themed episode of Street Smarts: "Which Jive Turkey Blew It?"
One of the reasons white patrons adored Cab Calloway's band at the Cotton Club was Calloway's extravagant "hepcat" persona, complete with the most outrageous slang imaginable. Some of the words he invented (and later published in the "Hepster's Dictionary") have passed into general use.
The Bee Gees have a song called "Jive Talkin'", where the narrator complains about another person's unrelenting lies and general assholishness. In other words, the song is a massive aversion — the Gibbs rewrote the song from the ground up when they found out that "jive" originally meant lying.
Played straight TO THE MAX in Frank Zappa's Thing-Fish concept album/musical soundtrack
In Monster Bash, the Wolf Man becomes one after his transformation.
In Applause, Margo suddenly starts spouting slang from the forties in the song "Who's That Girl?"
Most of what passes for "humor" in the 1858 play "Our American Cousin" is based around a family of stodgy Brits trying to make sense of the then-contemporary rural New England slang used by the eponymous cousin. Which means that a joke of this sort was perhaps the last thing Abraham Lincoln heard before he was assassinated during a performance of the play some years later.
Speedy Valenti in Wonderful Town.
Dimitri, from the second and thirdSly Cooper games, is a literal lounge lizard from Paris, France who spouts a mishmash of slang ranging from beatnik to disco to gangsta. The creators of the series like to claim he learned English from hip-hop videos.
During the final chapter of the third game, Bentley tries to use slang to give Dimitri a mission objective (which is arguably more consistent and closer to actual slang than most of what Dimitri says). Dimitri appreciates the effort, but tells Bentley that he can never match Dimitri's style, and to hit him with some of his "turtle talk".
Waylon in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Unusual for this trope, his slang is stuck in the 1950s, Daddy-O (though oddly enough his first line is "Why are these Lazurians all up in my business?").
Jake in Advance Wars: Dual Strike is even WORSE. His horrific hip-hop slang grows tiresome before the tutorial levels are even over.
70s super spy Harry Tipper from TimeSplitters. The player meets him via time travel.
Disco Kid from Punch-Out!! Wii. Time for this turkey to jive!
The Forsaken inWarcraft speak Gutterspeak, which is supposed to be Common with so much slang that it is incomprehensible to the entire Alliance. The language was added to World of Warcraft when the developers decided against having any cross-faction communication.
Benny, the protagonist's almost-killer in Fallout: New Vegas, and his gang, the Chairmen, spend the entire the entire game talking in 50s swinger lingo. The justification is that while they were originally a nomadic raider tribe (the Boot Riders), they were hired by Mr. House to run the Tops Casino and their original ways were incompatible. Benny killed the tribe leader in a duel to make sure the best idea ever came to pass and has been speaking swinger lingo ever since.
This is the case for most of the Vegas tribes. Apart from the Chairmen, it also has The Omertas, the White Glove Society (upper class posh lingo), and an entire group of Elvis Impersonators, the Kings. The latter go the whole nine yards, with their hair styles and outfits based on Elvis' costumes and Elvis speak (though it's only spoken by the King and Pacer, since they're the only surviving members that got to hear the Elvis voice recordings before they broke).
In Night Trap, the sole black member of SCAT. Yeah....
Foxxy Love on Drawn Together; as stated by her voice actress, she's "10% bullshit, 90% jive."
Parodied in the Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slippin?", where the future Harlem Globetrotters speak and act in a way that's half Jive Turkey and half Mad Scientist. They also hold a news conference to announce that Prof. Farnsworth is a "Jive Sucker". Additionally it has a parody of a Salt and Pepper pair of cops with a robot who frequently talks like this after the end of a sentence. Awwww, yeah.
The title character of American Dragon Jake Long raised some controversy with his excessive use of street slang. Executive producer Eddie Guzelian admits that the bravado of Jake's character was shaped by Dante Basco's ad-libbing and their own writing, which was supposed to parody the "wannabe MTV gangsta" crowd. Naturally, it was toned down in season 2.
Tex Avery's cartoon "Symphony in Slang" features the angels at the Pearly Gates unable to understand a new arrival who only speaks in 1940s - 1950s slang. St. Peter calls in Noah Webster for assistance. The entire cartoon features humorously imagined literal interpretations of his expressions. "I got a job slinging hash, but couldn't cut the mustard, so they gave me the gate." Turns out he's in Heaven because he "died laughing".
Danny Phantom: Adults misusing slang made up a good 25% of the humor. What's really funny is how bad the writers got the slang when they weren't playing it for laughs. Technus, particularly, is both "far out" and "funky fresh''. Mr. Lancer is the biggest Jive Turkey in the series, but Vlad also had a moment: "She just needs to, as the young folk say, 'chill in.'"
Most incarnations of Jazz are like this to a certain degree. (The original was voiced by Scatman Crothers, after all.) His Animated incarnation is explicitly supposed to sound like an beatnik.
Soundwave's Cybertron incarnation talks like an old school DJ.
Blaster is right up there in the 80's movie. Although his lingo does appear to be an amalgam of DJ and military speak.
Toyed with in X-Men: Evolution with the reimagining of the character Forge, who had been trapped in an alternate dimension for 30 years. After confusing Nightcrawler with his '70s slang, Kurt hilariously (and cringe-inducingly) misuses "modern" slang expressing concern at the datedness of Forge's speech patterns. Almost definitely self-conscious, as Nightcrawler never used fake slang again and the slang was the punchline.
Aang uses pseudo '40s/'50s-type slang in the second episode of season 3 when visiting the Fire Nation; the vernacular has changed considerably in the past century, so no one knows what he is talking about. It only ever comes up again once. "Stay Flaming!"
Very temporarily, Zuko is known as Sifu Hotman.
The Skeletunes from Ruby Gloom. On the various occasions when Ruby and company encounter the lead singer, they're left utterly perplexed. "Hey, what's happenin', babies?" "...?" "Come on, don't leave a guy hangin' like that, I said what's up!" "????" "*sigh* HOW ARE YOU?" Ruby becomes one of these in Hair(less) the Musical after soaking up enough of his lingo to replicate it... somewhat.
In Rocky and Bullwinkle, the moonmen become fluent in Jive after getting a stage career in Las Vegas, and are completely incomprehensible to the main characters while speaking in it. In order to even find the moonmen, they see a newspaper headline mentioning the moonmen, which they also cannot understand. They ask the guy reading the paper what it means, and he speaks gibberish as well. Eventually, they buy another copy of the newspaper and get the US Government to decode it in an incredibly large machine, which finally reveals where the moonmen were.
The Simpsons: Homer uses the phrase "Quit jahvin me, turkey!".
"You gotsta sass it! A turkey's a bad person!"
My Dad The Rock Star: Quincy, Black Best Friend of the male lead is a subversion since he tries to use street slang and appear hip hop but comes off as a clear poser. To further the subversion, his family is latter shown to be a straight-laced, white collar family.
Mr. Herriman of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends does this on one occasion. Herriman is recorded doing a rather embarrassing ditty for Mrs. Foster, which Bloo uploads onto the house's web site, which becomes and overnight internet sensation. Herriman eventually finds out about this, and after Hilarity Ensues, the episode ends with Herriman attempting a Rap version of his limerick.
On the episode of Recess where TJ's use of the word "whomps" (which the adults believe to be some newfangled obscenity rather than an Unusual Euphemism) eventually lands him in court, Miss Grotke brings in a noted "slangologist" to defend him. This person talks exclusively in what is apparently supposed to be roughly '60s-'70s slang, and needless to say doesn't help TJ's case at all.
However, the slangologist switched to formal English after the prosecutor questioned his credentials, which the slangologist did not take kindly to.
Daria: Val, the adult writer of a teen magazine, takes this to the logical extreme as she not only speaks like a teenager (which is unsettling enough in a 30+ year old) but dresses like one. It borders on Uncanny Valley, and plays out as a deconstruction; she comes off as unsettlingly shallow and self-absorbed to anyone who spends much time in her presence, even compared to the teens she's trying to imitate.
Most jargons are at least vaguely understandable by others, but Cockney rhyming slang is generally considered completely impenetrable to outsiders, as the already bizarre terminology is made more incomprehensible by thick accents. Legend has it that this was intentional, in order to discuss questionably legal activities in public without fear of being overheard.
Polari: not exactly jive, but a mixture of pig latin, Rom and backslang very popular amongst the theatrical and gay communities in the 1950s. The comic characters Julian and Sandy, from Round the Horne, were the best known practititoners of it in the popular media.
Dean Andrews, the man best known for being hired as Lee Harvey Oswald's lawyer before Oswald was murdered. He was widely known for his ridiculous "hepcat" phrases and permanent sunglasses, and John Candy's performance as him in JFK follows suit.