"The thing about childhood is that nothing makes sense. You have no idea what half the jokes on sitcoms are about, Bugs Bunny keeps making references to WWII-era European dictators you don't recognize, and Hot Wheels always manage to go around the loop-the-loop just fine on the commercials. So you just relax and go along with it, and fifteen years later you look back on the things that confused you and say 'Ah! Yes! It makes perfect sense now!'"
"In Blackest Night", a story by Alan Moore from Tales of the Green Lantern Corps, has a variation where it's not that she doesn't get the joke but that, because of who made it, she initially fails to realize there was a joke at all:
...and four cycles later, in the recreation complex, Katma Tui realized that for the first time in many years' service, she had heard a Guardian make a joke. She felt vaguely uneasy for the rest of that day.
In one issue of Zannablu, the boars — usually so stupid that it's a miracle they're still around — find and drink an intelligence-boosting serum. The first thing everybody does upon drinking is burst into laughter. A flashback later reveals they'd been told a joke that morning which nobody understood.
In Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, Dracula makes a pun on Scooby and Shaggy's car being miniaturized, "Shrunk from the battle." His ditsy assistant Vanna Pira doesn't get it. A few scenes later, she suddenly bursts out laughing.
Dracula: What's with you?
Vanna Pira: "Shrunk from battle!" I just got it!
Film — Live Action
In Dogma, Azrael asks the barkeep for a "holy bartender" and then pumps him full of bullets when he asks how it's made. It takes Jay a while to get the joke that he really asked for a "hole-y bartender".
In the Star Trek: Generations movie, Data had recently gotten upgraded to feel more realistic human emotions and starts laughing almost hysterically out of nowhere.
In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Russ tells Nick he learned artificial respiration, which he just used to save Nick's big sister Amy, from French class. At the end of the movie, the closing scene irises out — only to iris right back in on Nick, the pre-teen genius, laughing his head off as he finally makes the connection between artificial respiration and French class.
In Predator, Hawkins's telling of a post-battle old and dirty joke to Billy about his girlfriend's, ah, capacity leaves Billy looking bewildered for a good long pause. Hawkins desperately re-tells the punchline and then wanders off looking a bit crestfallen. A few more seconds pass...then Billy laughs heartily.
A plot point in Short Circuit. To test Number 5's sentience, Newton Crosby tells a rather tasteless joke. The robot is stumped, and Netwon takes it as evidence that he is not as "alive" as he thinks. Just when he's about to remark on it, Number 5 blurts out "I GET IT!" and starts snickering. Crosby is astounded, and instantly sides with him and Stephanie against his bosses.
Taken to the limit in Mystery Team. One character states that their sign reads "Lost kitten finding purrrrrfessionals", in which Charlie exclaims he finally gets the joke... Eleven years later.
In Raising Arizona, this is Glen's excuse for H.I. not laughing at his terrible joke. Glen claims that it's a "way-homer" that you only get on the way home. H.I. counters that he's already at his home.
Near the end of Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks has been fired from his job at the bank. However, while stunned at first, he has a hysterical epiphany that ends with him telling his ex-bosses the old 'man with a wooden leg named Smith' joke from earlier in the film before leaving. While the rest of board is shocked by his behaviour, Mr. Dawes Sr. is mulling over the joke's punchline. After a few moments, he starts to laugh. And laugh. And keeps laughing till the end.
FUBAR. Fucked up beyond all recognition. FUBAR. Got it! - quite a lead-up to the final fight scene where they all are most likely going to die...
The former trope namer (Swiss Moment) is an old joke: Why do the Swiss laugh during church? That's when they get the jokes they heard at Saturday night's party.
Paraphrased from a joke that Isaac Asimov wrote in his Treasury of Humor. When you tell a joke to a German, he will laugh twice: Once when you tell the joke, to be polite, and once when you explain the joke, to be polite. He will never get it. When you tell that same joke to an Englishman, he will laugh three times: Once when you tell the joke, to be polite, once when you explain the joke, to be polite, and once again when, in the middle of the night, he gets it, waking himself from a sound sleep. When you tell that joke to an American, he will laugh once, for he will get it.
A man contacts his lawyer: "I want to sue Bob! He called me a rhinoceros!"
Lawyer: "No problem. When did that happen?"
Man: "Four years ago!"
Lawyer: "Four years? And you decide to sue him now?"
Man: "Yes, today I went to the zoo with my kids, and that was the first time I've ever seen a rhinoceros!"
A Dumb Blonde joke: a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all die and go to the gates of heaven. They're told that they must now go up a flight of stairs to heaven. On each step, they will be told a joke. If they can make it to the top without laughing, they get in. The brunette makes it 7 steps before laughing. The redhead makes it 13 steps. The blonde makes it all the way to the top, and she meets God. A few minutes later, she starts laughing. When God asks her what's so funny, she answers, "I just got the first joke!"
Especially frightening given that this is Nanny Ogg we're talking about. How many children, by how many men, do you think she'd had at forty?
In the Agatha Christie novel Five Little Pigs, Angela mentions having one of these moments, where she actually said aloud "Oh! Now I get the point of that story about the plum pudding." This led her to recount a similar incident where she realized the significance of something she observed the weekend of the murder.
In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank", Mike made an incredibly lame joke about the '20s-style gangsters being kicked out of Men Without Hats. The actual joke was that Servo completely misses the point, and asks Mike to clarify the punchline ("Because the brims on their hats would keep them from reading the music?"). A few minutes after finally dropping it, Servo blurts out, "Oh, because they're wearing hats!"
In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lie To Me", Buffy recalls listening to "I Touch Myself" in fifth grade to help her get over Ford's rejection, and then mentions that she had no idea at the time what the song was about. Thirty seconds later Willow says, "Oh! That's what that song is about?!"
Six seasons later:
Willow: This goes beyond anything I've ever done. It's a total loss of control. And not in a nice, wholesome, "My girlfriend has a pierced tongue" kind of way.
...[Conversation continues for a while]...
Dawn: Oh! Pierced tongue.
Buffy: Dawn needs to do a research thing!
And the incredibly adorable moment after seeing that someone had spray painted "KISS Rocks" on a locker...
Willow: Kiss rocks? Why would anyone want to kiss... Oh, wait I get it.
Willow: Cibo Matto can clog dance? Oh, wait. Sarcasm.
Willow has the opposite kind of moment in "Consequences":
Buffy: Well then why do you- Oh.
[They all look to Willow for her reaction]
Willow: I don't need to say "oh." I got it before. They slept together.
In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Penny memorized a "physicist joke" and recited it in front of the guys, then wondered why nobody laughed. Well beyond a commercial break later, she figured out the punchline, and realized it was really insulting to physicists.
In One Tree Hill, Lucas was upset over his breakup with Brooke and went to his mom, Karen, for advice. Karen, who owns a cafe, tries to console him with advice from a former customer.
Karen: A customer once told me, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else!... oh my God, I just realized what that meant! I thought it was more philosophical than that!
Also a common trope in Friends, often played out by Joey, frequently accompanied by Chandler making a witty one-liner at Joey's expense.
Another time in Friends Phoebe talks about walking from Central Park to the Central Perk coffee shop, then stops and adds, "Hey, that's the first time I got that joke."
The biggest is probably Joey taking a few more seconds than everyone else to get the significance of Ross discovering the sweater he lost a month ago (Rachel had said that her baby's father left it behind).
Father Ted: usually Dougal being very, very slow to get a joke, naturally enough.
The best example doesn't use an actual joke at all, but a highly noticable recurring event...
Dougal: Those women were in the nip!
The cast of The Muppet Show did a TV special called "The Muppets Go To The Movies" where they spoofed several movie genres. Fozzie tells a joke during the Monster Movie sketch that goes "What do you get when you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole?" the answer is "Hot cross bunnies". The Frankenstein Monster from that sketch pops up later and says "Hot cross bunnies! I just got that!"
In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch a police inspector introduces himself as "Lookout of the Yard" (as in Scotland Yard), to which another character replies by asking what they would see. Lookout is completely baffled by the comment and the sketch continues. A few lines later, he begins laughing inexplicably and it soon becomes apparent that he has got the joke.
A similar gag with a man with the last name "Smoketoomuch" who had apparently made it to his thirties without anyone making a joke about it.
In "The Funniest Joke in the World," the Nazi interogator, upon hearing the joke says "That's not funny" before cracking up and dying.
Then there's actually no punch line at the end of the Novelty Items sketch with Eric and Graham because the punch line, while written, was never furnished as the sketch progressed.
One of the many Running Gags in F Troop involved Cpl. Agarn making a snide comment about their current situation, like "It's a shame we can't get someone to sing in his place." The other person, realizing that this is actually a good idea, says "Agarn, I don't know why everyone says you're so dumb!" Later, usually after the next scene change, Agarn suddenly shouts "Who says I'm dumb?"
Referenced in the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore show Not Only... But Also when the pair are discussing art and Dudley complains that he can't see the joke in Leonardo's 'cartoon'. Later on, after some unscripted Corpsing from Dudley, Cook adlibs the line "ere, you've just got the joke in that Leonardo cartoon haven't you?"
On Fox's show Raising Hope, Jimmy (who has just taught Hope how to crawl): "You're gonna have to move these pool chemicals outta here. She can get to this stuff now." Burt: "Well, I've got the weed killer in the back of the truck, so I can move that in here if you want. "Pick your poison." I just got that."
On the anti-gravity episode of Mythbusters, the Build Team test a number of devices that claim to create anti-gravity fields, the last of which was called a "Hamel Generator", which was supposedly created by a man who was abducted by aliens and was introduced to their technology. However, every one of these devices failed to deliver, including the Hamel Generator, prompting Grant to quip that "You're better off using something designed by Mark Hamill!" A few seconds after he and Kari have finished laughing, Tori finally busts out laughing himself, having apparently just then gotten the reference.
This is Pee-Wee's Playhouse's entire appeal for those who laughed as small children and are rediscovering it as adults.
The Xena: Warrior Princess episode "The Quill Is Mightier" revolves around a magic parchment Gabrielle "finds" that makes everything written on it come true, though often in Literal Genie ways. One of the first consequences is that when she is first ambushed, Joxer is with her, despite not remembering how he got there. Analysis of the parchment reveals nothing written about him, despite one oddly-phrased line: "Gabrielle awoke with a jerk." Despite several other characters noticing it quickly, he doesn't figure it out until the final battle of the episode.
Matt Groening's Life in Hell has a very cute one. Milhouse Mouse is telling all his friends (including Bongo the Rabbit) a dirty joke about a lady who owned a little dog named "Freeshow." The punchline is that one day the lady was in the bathtub and realized that Freeshow had gotten out, so she jumped out of the tub and ran out the front door, tearing down the neighborhood street completely naked while screaming: "Freeshow! Freeshow!" All the kids laugh except for Bongo, whose face remains expressionless. Then he goes home, does his homework, eats dinner, etc.....before finally climbing into bed for the night, and then he gets the joke and starts laughing.
A Beetle Bailey strip starts with unexplained laughter in the middle of the night, which turns out to be Zero reacting to a joke told during the day.
In Get Fuzzy for October 18, 2012, Satchel laughs in a somewhat tense situation and says it's at one of Rob's jokes. Rob says he told the joke an hour ago, but Satchel actually meant a joke from about six months ago.
Drabble for June 15th, 2013. Ralph is cooking hamburgers outside when his wife June hands him some tongs and says "Tongs!", to which Ralph says "You're welcome!" June walks away puzzled. Later that night while they're in bed she tells him "Oh, I get it!" Of course, Tongs = Thanks.
A comedian by the name of Tim Sample occasionally started his routine by explaining that you might not get it right away, and that you could, for example, burst out laughing on the highway and drive right off the road.
Denis Leary made a joke about finding the youngest Hanson brother in a motel all the way up a hooker's vagina with an 8-ball of cocaine next to them, and how the audience will remember the bit when it comes to pass. "You're gonna laugh about that later. People will say, 'What's so funny?' and you'll say, 'Can't tell you! You had to be there!'"
Dane Cook has a standup routine where he's talking about the really annoying sort of car alarms, and coming up with lyrics to go with the alarm noises. He says that it might seem stupid now, but the next time you hear a car alarm, you'll stop and think to yourself, "Ha ha, that Dane Cook is a silly bitch."
From a Tom Lehrer song intro, "I particularly remember one heartwarming story of his about a young necrophiliac who achieved his boyhood ambition by becoming coroner." (Tepid laughter) "The rest of you can look it up when you get home." (A lot more laughter)
British comedian Stewart Lee runs into these responses fairly often, as his act is rather unconventional. During the course of one show, he informed his audience that "the jokes are there, but some of you might have to raise your game". On other occasions, he has divided the room by response - those getting the joke becoming Team A, while the less receptive audience members become Team F.
The Capitol Steps have a regular bit they call Lirty Dies, where they throw as many Spoonerisms in as they can while commenting on a few recent news items. If they get delayed laughter the performer will likely add some comment such as "Got some low slearners here tonight" or "Better deck your chicktionaries on that one".
Referred to as a "icebox laugh" in Picasso at the Lapin Agile (i.e., something that you laugh at when Fridge Logic kicks in) and brought up in relation to an intentionally nonsensical joke about e-shaped pies. Gaston gets the joke while in the bathroom, most likely by, as Einstein puts it, "process of elimination."
In Shrek: The Musical, Shrek gets the usual blank stare from Donkey after joking that Lord Faarquad is Compensating for Something with his castle. Later, during the "Travel Song", Donkey bursts out laughing when he suddenly gets Shrek's joke.
In Tales of MU, a harpy character says that in the badlands, "thunder means someone told a giant a joke three days ago." The giantess who's appeared in the story bears this out, not realizing she was at the center of a hurricane of Double Entendres until much later.
"I don't typically understand jokes related to the Reconstruction (particularly the election of 1872), and I especially don't when I've had a fifth of bourbon and fireworks are going off all around my face. Mike should be thankful I even remembered it in the morning."
In the Edds World flash movie WTFuture, the following exchange occurs:
Tom: As ever Edd, your sense of humor never ceases to amaze me.
Edd: Is that an insult?
Tom: You figure it out.
[As they walk away, Future Edd appears in a flash of lightning.]
Future Edd At last, after many years I have returned. Now it is time to- HEY! That WAS an insult!
During episode 15 of Rooster Teeth's Let's PlayMinecraft, Michael tells Ray to stop making Kung Fu noises when the latter found a Kung Fu picture in front of Ryan's house. 13 episodes later, Michael finally finds the Kung Fu picture and realizes why Ray had done that so long ago.
Avatar: The Last Airbender : While confronting the Kyoshi warriors, who all fight with gold-plated warfans, Azula mockingly calls them the Avatar's "fangirls". Several beats pass before Ty Lee exclaims, "I get it now, that was funny, Azula." But then Ty Lee is the group's designated cloudcuckoolander.
An episode of the animated Fraggle Rock revolved around "The Funniest Joke In The Universe". Grumpy Bear Boober didn't get it, and asked everyone else, who immediately convulsed in unstoppable hilarity. It turns out he has to get water from the Well of Forgetfulness to make them stop laughing and since he's the only one not in stitches, he's the only one who can. At the end, all's well... until Boober gets the joke, and the other Fraggles have to take him to the well.
From The Simpsons: "I am not slow!" That line was from when Homer and his friends were reunited for a night of poker. At some point, one of them told another one not to yell at Homer just because Homer was slow. Homer's brain then stopped to proccess the fact something mean was said about him. At first, he recalled the "don't yell at Homer" part but figured out that was nice. By the time Homer figured out he was called slow, the other guests had already left and the host was helping himself to a midnight snack.
Sideshow Bob gives Wiggum the nickname "Chief Piggum". The police chief understands this joke during Bob's parole hearing and went from angry to finding it Actually Pretty Funny.
Announcer: And now, the woman who "Mom"-opolizes the robot industry...
Fry: I get it!
Fry: Oh... now I get it!
In "Rebirth", a few seconds after a series of increasingly obvious references to leaving Fox and joining Comedy Central (culminating with "It's a sort of "Comedy" central shipping channel, and now we're on it"), Amy exclaims "I get it!"
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show had a cartoon called "Aesop And Son". In one episode, Aesop laughs at a joke he heard days ago and tells his son a fable with the moral "He who laughs last laughs best". Come to think of it, a lot of things in that show were jokes young viewers wouldn't get until later.
Or, in many cases, ever (e.g., the Kerwood Derby).
It was a long drawn out gag involving this guy and a bunch of really bad jokes that seemed to offend him greatly, so much so that he tried to sue the makers of the show to get them to stop... it failed.
Bullwinkle: Twenty dollars?!? That's antihistamine money! Rocky: Antihistamine money? Bullwinkle: Yes. It's not to be sneezed at. Get it? Not to be sneezed at? Rocky:(exasperated)I get it. Bullwinkle: Thousands won't!
In an episode of King of the Hill Bill and Dale tell Hank and Peggy a joke about them ordering nachos with cheese and the punchline is they tell the waitress "if it's nacho cheese then who's is it" and everyone enjoys a good laugh except Peggy, later much time has passed and Peggy says "oh I just got that nacho cheese joke it's funny!".
In the "Dr. Chicago" episode of George of the Jungle, George announces to the Commissioner that ants on a railroad, "Steal track!" The Commissioner, misunderstanding, answers: "Yes, George — steel track. That's what makes the train run so smoothly." Shortly before the end of the episode, George bursts out laughing, and the Commissioner asks, irritably: "What's so funny?" George answers: "Steal track! Steel track!"
And in another episode he's been caught in a snare by poachers who mean to leave him there. He comments "It pretty chicken thing to do to King of Jungle!" A poacher replies "If there be one thing I like, it be 'Chicken a la King'!" A few scenes later, back home, George starts laughing "Ho ho! Chicken a la King!"
In Family Guy, Peter (in an attempt to become more sophisticated) spends days standing by a newspaper stand staring at a New Yorker cartoon (with the punchline "I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic") before he finally gets it, saying in a charitable tone that it's "kind of funny," before returning the magazine and getting a copy of Juggs.
In Adventure Time, Finn is worried that Flame Princess doesnít like him anymore because she didnít laugh at one of his jokes. Jake and BMO try to assure him that she just probably didnít get the joke yet. Towards the end of the episode, after Finn comes back from his (possibly) trippy dream inside the pillow fort, Flame Princess calls Finn, telling him that she finally understood the joke. Their relationship is saved!
Top Cat is a show about a gang of colorfu hoods living in a Damon Runyon-esque world. A lot of kids must only have grasped what was going on here years later.
One Smurfs episode revolves Jokey finding the ultimate joke. Anyone who hears it will laugh uncontrollably and never be able to stop. Jokey alone is immune because he doesn't get it. After a long, arduous journey to cure the laughing Smurfs, the band returns to the village... only for Jokey to burst out laughing, having finally got the joke.