Used with permission.
I left Cleveland to get away from His and Her towels, people who call cocktail parties 'pours' and the guy who always breaks it up by wearing a lampshade on his head.
— Time Magazine article on actor Jim Backus, December 15, 1958.
A person getting drunk enough at a party to wear a lampshade as a hat.
It's hard to pin down the origin of this trope. One theory is that the guys get drunk enough to mistake lamps for hat racks; other theories are collected on this web page
. The idea of a drunk wearing a lampshade goes back to at least 1945 in the U.S. - and probably even earlier (another article
dates it to 1928). If that's true, this trope could be Older than Television
. It has also been suggested that this originated as a piece of "dirty" physical comedy: the man puts on the lamp-shade, exposes himself, and asks for someone to "turn him on" using his "switch
Regardless, the cliche nature of it has turned it into a Dead Horse Trope
. It's uncommon to find examples nowadays that aren't parodies of this.
Sometimes the lampshade wearer will say that they're feeling light-headed.
The same effect is sometimes achieved with a traffic cone, though in reality they tend to be too wide and heavy to be practical as headwear. Add to that the fact that they have to be drunk enough to consider stealing the cone in the first place, so cone wearers tend to be drunker than lampshade wearers.
Note, there is another reason you may see someone with a lampshade on their head: the Rule of Funny
use as a Paper-Thin Disguise
, in order to pretend to be a lamp. This has nothing to do with being drunk.
A Sister Trope
to Necktie Headband
(what a Japanese Salaryman
will do instead).
Not to be confused with Lampshade Hanging
Note: it is possible to hang a lampshade
on Lampshade Wearing
. Case in point: "Someone does it at every party, it was only natural."
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Anime and Manga
- The Person Formerly Known as Taro Sekiutsu in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei sold his name to an immigrant, and now lives in a cardboard box in the streets, wearing a lampshade as a mask.
- Millie does this in Trigun.
- Lords and Ladies puts it in an interesting context:
"There are no delusions for the dead. Dying is like waking up after a really good party, when you have one or two seconds of innocent freedom before you recollect all the things you did last night which seemed so logical and hilarious at the time, and then you remember the really amazing thing you did with a lampshade and two balloons, which had them in stitches, and now realize you're going to have to look a lot of people in the eye today and you're sober now and so are they but you can both remember."
- One of the students in Wayside School is Falling Down raises a theory that Mrs. Jewls lets Myron do whatever he wants because Myron has a picture of Mrs. Jewls wearing a lampshade, and threatened to show it to the principal unless she allowed him to break the rules. One of the other students then asks how the principal would recognize Mrs. Jewls if a lampshade covered her face.
- Roy Blount Jr's 1984 comic essay "What to Do on New Year's Eve - II" discusses this:
"Try it, and you'll see why. A lampshade has prongs that don't fit the human head (might fit a cat's, but a cat would hate it), and there are dead moths in there. Stuck to the sides. But not stuck very securely. You could breathe one into your nose."
- On one of George Carlin's stand-up albums, he claims that doing impressions of Ed Sullivan is replacing wearing the lampshade at parties.
- A Far Side cartoon with three teenagers on a couch, surveying a living room which they have obviously carefully tidied, moments before the parents come home... "Play it cool," says one, "they'll never know we've been partying." The deception would be perfect if they were not all three wearing lampshades.
- It's definitely appeared in a few different Garfield strips.
- It's a prominent recurring feature in The Garfield How to Party Book by Jim Davis.
- In Peanuts, Snoopy and Spike have worn lampshades on a couple of occasions.
- In Doonesbury, Mark Slackmeyer is bartending a college reunion, and an attendee comes up to the bar wearing a lampshade... before the party has even begun.
- Saints Row 2 has a lampshade wearable as a hat. Drunkenness is optional.
- In The Sims 2, a Sim with the Pleasure aspiration will put on a lampshade and start dancing (wasting your time and theirs) if you don't keep their aspiration level high enough.
- From Full Throttle, while Ben is looking at a photo:
Ben: Are you the guy with the lampshade on his head, or the guy chugging out of the punch bowl?
- Kingdom of Loathing: Traffic cones were available as hats for the first few celebrations of Sneaky St. Pete's Day, after adventuring while drunk enough:
This is a big cone of bright orange plastic. You have no recollection of how or where you got it, but it's like I always say — it's not a good night unless you end up with a traffic cone!
- Roblox has several lampshade-themed hats in a variety of colors and styles.
- This Very Wiki's logo has wears a lampshade over the second "t". Unless the logo is changed for a holiday.
- The Flintstones: Fred does this whenever drunk.
- The Simpsons: Ditto Homer.
- Patrick from Sponge Bob Square Pants comes home in one when he arrives home at midnight saying, "That was some party!" when he was supposed to come home earlier and help Spongebob with the baby scallop/clam (long story).
- Oddly enough, in "Spongebob Meets the Strangler", SQUIDWARD wore one of these... TWICE.
- Judging by his expression, even Larry was impressed by this particular move... TWICE.
- Gary also does it in another episode, and SpongeBob is still able to pull the chain attached to the shade and turn off the light.
- In one Freakazoid! episode, the villains are at a party for Freakazoid's imminent doom. Invisibo wears a lampshade so you can tell where he is.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Norman Normal" (1968) there's a character who wears a lampshade while droningly saying "Approval" over and over.
- One of the drunken cats in "Trap Happy Porky," (1945) belting out "On Moonlight Bay" (natch) also wears a lampshade.
- Spanky Ham from Drawn Together, in the first episode.
- In Aladdin, Genie turns himself into a lampshade over Al's head for the line "A girl appreciates a man who can make her laugh."
- One episode of Xiaolin Showdown involves the Ring of Nine Dragons, which spits a person into up to nine copies of themself, unfortunately also dividing intelligence among them. When Jack Spicer gets his hands on it, we see one of his clones with a lampshade on his head.
- In the episode "Madeline and the Big Cheese" of the Madeline animated series, Danielle and Madeline has to come up with an impromptu way to lull Lord Cucuface to sleep so... well, see the TV.com summary.
Madeline: Psst, Danielle, you be the queen.
Danielle: Me? Queen who?
Madeline: (thinks) AHA! (Puts lampshade over Danielle's head) Queen Lampshade!
Danielle: Fine, and you be Princess Drapery!
- In the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Spike is wearing a lampshade when he comes to invite Twilight back to a party she ran out of.
- In "Ponyville Confidential", Pinkie Pie is photographed wearing a lampshade while dancing in a punch bowl, as part of a newspaper story about how she is an out-of-control party animal.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, one of the many teenagers at a party at the Delightful Children's mansion does this.
Teenager: Hey, I'm a lamp! Get it?
- In Danny Phantom this happen at the party in "Bitter Reunions" with one guy who was bouncing around with a lampshade on his head.
- In the Detentionaire episode "Friday Night Bites", when the partygoers become mind-controlled and Lee Ping commands them to "go crazy", one guy puts a lampshade on his head.
- Non-alcohol example with Bashful in The 7D. When Goldilocks steals his hat, Bashful goes into a panic looking for something to cover his exposed face with and finds a lampshade.
- Kinda played with in this◊ Threadless t-shirt design involving various major figures in communism having a party.
- Seen on a Japan Airlines animated pre-flight safety message detailing the impact of altitude on the effects of alcohol. Where the guy got the lampshade from at 30,000 feet is anyone's guess.