A parody is a twisted imitation of another artistic work. An intentional mockery, though often a loving one
, it imitates the style of the original in order to puncture its mistakes and point out its flaws. Some aspects may be exaggerated, and others downplayed. Usually comedic, but occasionally dark and deconstructive
. Can be sublime, or worse than the original. Sometimes an homage
doubles as a parody. And sometimes the entire work gets parodied.
Lack of respect for the source material is the most common danger of parody. Not all parody is satire
. As satire is usually pursuing an intellectual point
, we expect it to be critical. On the other hand, most parodies are watched by people who liked the original stories, so pointing out too loudly that something is stupid (or that it broadly seems to defy the premise) can subconsciously insult the viewer. In fact, many successful parodies still use the situation or design that they mock. They simply point out that it doesn't make sense
, but let the appeal be in the eye of the beholder.
Another danger is the assumption that the audience is familiar with the subject matter being parodied; extensive parodies have multiple layers of comic gold. This can be shaky ground, depending on the age of your audience, and writers sometimes resign themselves to broad, widely known characters and situations
. The problem is that such things have probably already been parodied to death. Enough parodies can cause a shift to that version of the character into becoming the archetype, leading to later subversions of subversions.
The most basic idea is, of course, that a parody is essentially something you've seen before in a different form. Your audience hopes you bring something new to the table, and will not be impressed if all you do is regurgitate tropes.
The nature of parody can lead to unfortunate Misaimed Fandom
See also Satire
, Meta Trope Intro
, Parodied Trope
(spoofing a trope).
For a list of tropes used in
parodies, see Parody Tropes
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- The Dork Tower comic regularly features covers (and sometimes entire issues) that parody some aspect of geek or pop culture, often with some relationship to the story inside. Subjects have included Understanding Comics, Rice Krispies cereal, A Brief History of Time, Harvey Comics, Pink Floyd...
- The Scary Movie series contains countless send-ups of contemporary horror and sci-fi movies, among other films. A few of the creators have also produced similar genre-spoof movies with self-descriptive titles, like Date Movie, Epic Movie and Disaster Movie. Despite their names, they seem to spoof the trailers of the respective year's hyped films instead.
- A grand Italian tradition is that of redubbing, which consists in gag dubs of movies ranging from the sketches to full-length movies that may not share the film's plot or premise at all (sometimes with extensive new footage shot). Started with Star Trek II way way back in the 1980s, making the gag dub Older Than They Think. Lots of parodies can be found here (naturally in Italian, and many of which strictly in local dialects.)
- A recurring gag in a Gag Dub is to use the original dialogue of certain characters. By simply changing the other dialogue around it, what they said makes them look even stupider than if their dialogue had been changed.
- Occasionally, lampshades may be hung on the use of original lines. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is fond of a flashing * ACTUAL 4KIDS DIALOG* label on the bottom of the screen.
- Beverly Hills Ninja is a parody of Mighty Whitey ninja films. It features a tribe of ninjas adopting an orphan Caucasian boy whom they think will be their clan's long-prophesized "Great White Hope." Unfortunately for them, the boy grows up to be a clumsy, uncoordinated adult (played by Chris Farley) and the only way he can save the day is with the secret assistance of the ninja tribe's best Japanese member.
- Spaceballs was a parody of Star Wars.
- James Bond was actually intended to be a parody of espionage films, but, ironically enough, it turned out to be held as the quintessential spy series; even getting its own parodies in the form of films such as Spy Hard, Austin Powers and Get Smart.
- Big Money Hustlas, produced by Insane Clown Posse's label, Psychopathic Records, is a parody of '70s exploitation flicks. Its follow-up, Big Money Rustlas, is a parody of westerns.
- Mystery Team is this for amateur sleuth stories.
- The New Zealand comedy Tongan Ninja is a spoof of martial arts films in general, and Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon in particular.
- Brazilian group Os Trapalhões (also translated as "The Tramps") had this in a few of their movies, in addition to many parodies in their TV show - one of S.W.A.T. even became a full-fledged movie by all but the leader during a short break-up. During the internet's popularization of foreign Mockbusters, they got roped along the way: Os Trapalhões na Guerra dos Planetas (The Tramps in the Planet War) is Brazilian Star Wars, Os Trapalhões no Planalto dos Macacos (The Tramps in the Plateau of the Apes) is Brazilian Planet of the Apes, and Os Trapalhões e o Mágico de Oróz (The Tramps and the Wizard of Oroz) is Brazilian The Wizard of Oz.
- The Dragaera novels include a subseries called the Khaavren Romances that parody Alexandre Dumas.
- Lord of the Flies is a dark parody of Jules Verne's Two Years Vacation - both involve groups of upper-class schoolboys being marooned on a desert island in similar circumstances, but where Verne's kids Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, Golding's descend into primitive savagery.
- It's also taking on R. M. Ballantyne's Coral Island (lampshaded by the end).
- The Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings rather viciously skewers The Lord of the Rings.
- Barry Trotter parodies... oh, go on, guess.
- How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse depicts the Zombie Apocalypse scenario and often exaggerates the genre's tropes. Given it's also a slapstick, it can be taken Up to Eleven.
- The ancient Greek Batrachomyomachia makes this Older Than Feudalism, since the 300-line poem parodies the epic genre by using epic conventions for a rather non-heroic story: a battle between mice and frogs.
- An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding, a parody of the cringeworthy but popular inspirational novel Pamela by Samuel Richardson. One of the rare cases where the parody is somehow better than the original.
- Sledge Hammer! is an over-the-top parody of the Cowboy Cop.
- At least in the first season. Then it became too whiny and Rom Com-ish, attempting satire and/or deconstruction where none were necessary.
- Similarly, Police Squad!! was a parody of 1960s- and 1970s-vintage Police Procedural shows, particularly the output of Quinn Martin Productions, and specifically M Squad.
- The Daily Show uses the parody news format to make satirical points. Its Spin-Off, The Colbert Report, does satire as well, but parodies blowhard opinion shows like The O'Reilly Factor instead of straight news.
- Brass Eye parodied the shock-obsessed news media by lifting their style.
- iCarly: The fake movie trailers. Kelly Cooper: Terrible Movie is about cliched teen chick movies, and The Blowing pokes fun on disaster films.
- The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies is a mockumentary on the LOST season 4 DVD. Presented as an in-universe documentary, the film is an obvious parody of Loose Change, from the music, voiceovers, interviews with questionably qualified scientists, anonymous interviews, wild accusations, and claims of a government coverup in regards to the crash of Oceanic flight 815 and the subsequent rescuing of six passengers. The irony is that the documentary is right that the official story is a lie...but its explanation is hilariously wrong (one word: cannabalism).
- My Life In Film, a little-known BBC comedy about a slightly delusional scriptwriter that took place in worlds that were parodies of popular films.
- MAD specializes in parodies, particularly those of movies and TV shows. Some also have satirical elements...but for some reason the magazine refers to all of them as satires, not parodies, so it's no wonder Keanu Reeves got confused.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic has made a career out of parody songs.
- Also Bohemian Parody, which covers parodies of Bohemian Rhapsody.
- Two years after Fiddler's Dram released 'Day Trip to Bangor', Jasper Carrott parodied the song with 'Day Trip to Blackpool', in 1981. While 'Day Trip to Bangor' was about what a lovely time they had there, 'Day Trip to Blackpool' is the exact opposite.
- 'Star Trekkin' by The Firm, which is a parody of Star Trek.
- The Howard Stern Show used to and sometimes still will parody television shows and movies, although more frequently song parodies are featured, many of which, sent in by fans, are about being sexually attracted to news anchor Robin Quivers. Thousands of these exist, and one or two are always played before her news segment.
- The BBC Radio 4 series Hordes of the Things, by A.P.R. Marshall (Andrew Marshall of 2point4 Children and The Burkiss Way) and J.H.W. Lloyd (John Lloyd of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Blackadder) was a parody of Lord of the Rings. It's notable because it was broadcast six months before the Radio 4 adaptation of LOTR, and manages to predict some of the voice characterization to a spooky degree. (Or they heard about it in the canteen.)
- Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, a miniseries in Son of Cliché, was a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the titular character was left as the sole survivor of his ship's crew. The premise of this would later be followed up with a Spiritual Successor in Red Dwarf.
- The Burkiss Way parodied everything it could lay its hands on.
- The X Fools parodied the then concurrently running The X-Files series. Agent Sulky is the Only Sane Woman stuck between her brainless Covert Pervert partner Agent Smoulder and their Wholesome Crossdresser superior Assistant Director Skinhead, confronting such villains as Dancer Man and the Cigarette Sucking Woman.
- DevilBear is full of parodies. Especially in the teddy bears that end up going to Hell. Parodies of Winnie the Pooh , Kiss , and Pokémon to name a few.
- Kick The Football, Chuck is a parody of Charles Schulz' "Peanuts" where all of the classic gags (kicking the football, talking on the brick wall, flying a kite, Lucy's "psychiatric booth, etc.) are portrayed in light of Charlie Brown's cancer.
- Wizard School is a parody of Harry Potter, with the cliche magical child as "Chosen One," replaced with a drunken jerk with a tattoo on his forehead.
- Greg parodied movies in the early stages of the comic, including Green Lantern and Transformers 3.