It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
She thinks he's funny! No really, she does!
Remember how I found you there,
Alone in your electric chair?
I told you dirty jokes until you smiled
You were lonely for a man
I said "Take me as I am,
'Cause you might enjoy some madness for a while."
— Billy Joel
, - "You May Be Right"
He's the joker of the group. She's the Emotionless Girl
or perhaps the Tsundere
, maybe both. He makes it his mission in life to make her let out one of the most powerful emotional responses. It's a matter of personal pride. If he can break through her shell, he can brag about it for years.
Said girl's friends will wonder why she puts up with it. Don't expect his jokes to actually be funny. The comedy really comes from her reaction, or lack thereof
This is often played as romantic interest. After all, guys like girls that laugh at their jokes. And, although she doesn't laugh, she does at least listen. If it's meant to become a romantic relationship, don't expect them to resolve it anytime soon
Most of the time, what finally makes her laugh wasn't even intended to be funny
Can result in a When She Smiles
moment, where the guy falls even harder for her when he finally sees her radiant smile.
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Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: In the manga, Shinji tries to see if Rei can laugh by doing something funny - in this case, shoving two fingers up Touji's nose, causing him to freak out. This makes all the other girls laugh, but not Rei, who merely turns away with the same blank expression after seeing what all the noise was about.
- The anime doesn't have a single instance of Rei laughing. Not even the High School AU in the final episode goes past grinning.
- Though Rei actually smiles a fair amount, so she probably doesn't have any energy left to laugh after all that.
- Pokémon Special: Pearl may be doing this to Platinum, judging from his reaction to catching her laugh.
Pearl: "A HA! You just laughed, didn't you?!"
Platinum: "No I didn't."
Pearl: "You SO did too, I'm sure of it!"
Platinum: "No I didn't. Don't be a pest."
- It's more like he's trying to force her to admit she has her unlady-like moments whenever she does something.
- Rurouni Kenshin: A gender inverted version occurs, where Misao swears that she'll make her crush Aoshi smile no matter what.
- Kyou no Go no Ni / Today In Class 5-2 had this too.
- Galaxy Angel did a story like this, where this group of guys followed Vanilla around, trying to make her laugh. Apparently she finally did, but her laughter wasn't shown or heard in the actual anime, it was just implied that she finally did.
- Stellvia of the Universe: Joey wins Akira's heart via this method.
- Kodomo no Omocha: Gender inverted, Sana always tries to make Hayama laugh, or at the very least smile.
- This is subverted near the beginning of Ranma ˝, when Akane is feeling down because of her unrequited feelings for Dr. Tofu. Because she's sad, she doesn't react violently to anything. You'd think Ranma would try to make her laugh, but he doesn't. Instead, he tries to make her angry again, since he's so used to her Tsundere side.
- Tank Girl has a Les Yay example. Tank Girl and Jet Girl are in prison. Jet Girl has been very serious in Tank Girl's company up to now.
Jet Girl: You don't understand. The better you behave, the more they leave you alone. And the more they leave you alone, the better off you are.
Tank Girl: Well, that's a bore! There's nothin' to be scared of. You just gotta think about it like the first time you got laid. You just gotta go: "Daddy, are you sure this is right?"
Jet Girl: [giggles] You're sick.
- In the 1939 romantic comedy Ninotchka, the title character, a humourless Soviet official sent to sell the czar's jewels now in Paris, meets Count Leon, who's been dispatched to retrieve the jewels for their current owner. In one scene, he attempts to win her over in a restaurant by making her laugh, but fails. Then he has an accidental pratfall and she cracks up for the first time in her life.
- A Norweigan folk tale involves a king who offers his daughter's hand to anyone who can make the all-too-serious girl laugh. A peasant boy is nice to one of those ubiquitous old ladies, and is rewarded with a goose that can trap anyone who touches it (or touches anything already trapped) if he says "Hang on if you want to come along!" He uses it to catch the entire palace staff, and the princess falls over laughing when she sees it.
- A similar plot device also shows up in the Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Golden Goose.
- In Australian Aboriginal mythology, a giant frog named Tiddalik drank up all the rivers and lakes. The other animals tried to get him to laugh and spill the water, unsuccessfully, until Tiddalik saw the eel desperately searching for water and laughed at him, releasing it.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Voyager has an interesting take on this: (male) Neelix tries to make the (male) Vulcan, Tuvok, laugh. Becomes a Reverse Funny Aneurysm when a transporter accident makes the two of them into one in a later episode.
- Zoey 101 One episode has Michael determined to get Quinn to laugh at one of his jokes. The only problem is, she doesn't find his jokes funny at all. In the end, she ends up laughing at a pun he makes just to shut him up.
- Faerie Tale Theatre has the episode "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed," based on a variation of the Norwegian folk tale above: Howie Mandell plays the peasant, who gets the princess to laugh by pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of the people she sees every day of her life, with the punch-line, "and she says 'Bring me someone who can make me laugh.'"
- Saturday Night Live: Speaking of Howie Mandell, Jon Lovitz plays him in a game show sketch, "Make Joan Baez Laugh." The setup is that Baez, as Nora Dunn portrays her, is so despondent over the world's injustices that the show has run for nine seasons without anyone succeeding at making her so much as smile. Until, that is, Mandell sticks a rubber glove over his face and inflates it with his nose. Baez does a Spit Take and finally laughs.
- In Today's Special, the cast devotes an entire episode to making Sam's friend Sourpuss Sal smile, since she hasn't smiled in 20 years.
- An episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine sees Boyle trying to coax a smile out of Rosa for a Christmas photo. He manages it in the end, but only by taking a bullet for her.
- Castlevania: Judgment Grant occasionally makes it his goal to get an emotional reaction out of Alucard. This example isn't romantic. No, it isn't.
- Dragon Quest IV Subverted where a King will only give a special piece of equipment needed to defeat the Big Bad to someone who can make him laugh. ("For the good of the kingdom.") Your party hires a comedian and everything and then...the comedian scolds the king because your party is trying to save the world and nobody will ever laugh again if they don't. And it works!
- Elite Beat Agents Leo's episode is about his efforts to get the Emotionless Girl Lisa to smile, and thus inspire artwork. In the good ending, the "special tunnel" finally does the trick.
- By the way, that's Leonardo da Vinci and the subject of the Mona Lisa.
- Valkyria Chronicles Ted Ustinov tried to do this with Marina Wulfstan, but he failed at it even after the war. She's just really like that.
- A variant of this occurs between Garrus and fem!Shepard in the Mass Effect trilogy, and is amplified if you pursue his romance path. While some of his remarks stem from being genuinely socially awkward, a good deal of his Adorkable actions and dialogue with fem!Shepard are made of this trope. There is also a more meaningful component to this: regardless of your relationship with him, he will do anything in his power to keep either Shepard happy, encouraged, and emotionally stable during the increasingly hopeless genocidal alien invasion.
- Fate/stay night gender inverted. Tohsaka realizes that she never sees Shirou laugh and that he rarely smiles. It makes her mad because while he likes making others happy he never actually enjoys himself. Ayako also notes this early on. Tohsaka decides they'll take a day off to make him enjoy himself. With good reason, because as a person who never lives for himself, after he turns into Archer he becomes bitterly resentful of his life. She likes Archer, but doesn't want Shirou to become like him.
- Kanon Yuichi often does this to Mai, claiming that getting any kind of reaction from her at all is like winning a medal.
- Teen Titans does this with Beast Boy and Raven. It turns out in the prequel episode "Go!" that he got her to laugh during their first meeting, and he's been trying to replicate that ever since. He's succeeded three times: said prequel episode, an encounter with her "happy side" during a Journey to the Center of the Mind episode, and when he had a cold and lost control of his powers every time he sneezed. Notably, her happy side told Beast Boy that she always finds his jokes funny; her mildly irritated, Deadpan Snarker reactions to his jokes may be more about maintaining her emotional reserve than being genuinely annoyed.
- Ancient China - One of the last emperors of Zhou had a concubine who didn't like to smile. He discovered, quite by accident, that Crying Wolf by sending fake Epic Hails so his troops would mobilize, caused her to laugh. So he kept doing it. Of course, by the time real barbarians decided to sweep in, the disgruntled troops told the emperor to go pound sand. Capital sacked, emperor killed, concubine carried off into captivity.
- In 1907, a New York theater offered a "performance" by Sober Sue, a woman who allegedly never laughed. A cash prize was offered to anyone who could get her to do so; many of the city's best comedians made the attempt, but in vain. It's known that this was set up by her manager as a way to trick comedians into performing for free, and strongly suspected that Sue's facial muscles were paralyzed in a way that guaranteed she couldn't laugh or smile.