Played for Laughs
If something is played for laughs, it means it is being used with the intention to be comedic. It is often a parody of the instances where said device or trope is used seriously. Sometimes involves Lampshade Hanging on a particular trope. Contrast Played for Drama; sometimes, the only difference between one trope and another is that one is Played For Laughs, while the other is Played for Drama. Can sometimes result in Harsher in Hindsight or a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment down the line. And of course, can result more immediately in Dude, Not Funny! Also compare Black Comedy.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Most of the middle of Ep. 4 in Umineko: When They Cry is Beatrice having fun making the story play out as much as a cheesy kids' action anime as possible. Eleventh Hour Super Power, Out-of-Character Moment, Interface Screw, you name it. After everyone stops acting it becomes obvious in hindsight.
- We have uncontrolled lechery, fathers beating their daughters, bipolar childhood friends with murderous grudges, a pyromaniac baby, a mother who wishes her son was never born, wanton property destruction, and alien invasions. This is Urusei Yatsura. All of the above is frikken hilarious.
- Try an Aquatransexual with a mother who thinks he should be manly or face the sword, way too many Fiancées, rivals who practice all kinds of ridiculous martial arts, a Dirty Old Man Fair Weather Mentor who will stop at nothing to get him into a bra, and all sorts of other random stuff happening in his neighborhood.
- Despite occasional Mood Whiplash, Axis Powers Hetalia is this for world history.
- In Mazinger Z, Kouji's sexism and the fights between him and Sayaka nearly always are Played for Laughs.
- In general, Harem shows such as Love Hina, Infinite Stratos, and Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts utilize this trope anytime a female character is shown beating on a male character.
- Angel Beats! plays Death Is Cheap entirely for laughs. All sorts of hideous types of death elected at best a response of "See ya later." and so do many Amusing Injuries. It's also surprisingly non-sexist about it.
- Though it does keep most of the female "deaths" relatively non-violent or off-screen, compared to the males.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the entire concept of the fic is played for laughs, as a parody of the professionalism expected from a historical essay.
- Most of the Lemony Narrator's logic and pride are played for laughs. However, as the story continues, it seems as though even certain elements of Equestrian history are naturally funny as well, and as such, invoke this trope too.
- Casino Royale (1967) plays its Kill 'em All ending for laughs, by immediately following it with a Fluffy Cloud Heaven Ending.
- The most famous example is probably Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and how it plays The End of the World as We Know It as a farcical Black Comedy.
- Back to the Future features a teenage boy meeting his young mother through Time Travel and her rather forwardly coming on to him, which it plays mostly for laughs. Thankfully, she sees him more like a brother before things go too far.
- Four Lions, a farcical black comedy about five Muslim suicide bombers and their ultimately successful quest to blow themselves and other people up in the most pointless ways possible.
- Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo: What Raven and Beast Boy are doing reflects a type of comedy that Japan has called Manzai, where there is a serious straight and an irreverent idiot (Boke and Tsukkomi Routine), only it's in an American parody and mockery of the original Japanese Manzai.
- Pain and Gain is a film about one of the grisliest crime sprees in the history of the city of Miami. You wouldn't expect such a film to be a comedy until you realize that the main characters' incompetence at crime is what drives the film's plot.
- To Be or Not to Be features Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in her last film. It's a comedy about Hitler's invasion of Poland.
- Blackadder, particularly Blackadder Goes Forth, likewise (except in the finale).
- On a similar vein, much of Victorious' humor comes from jokes that imply mental instability, death, parental abandonment, etc. In real life, this would be horrifying, and it's not too funny when they make jokes about it anyway.
- Forgetful Jones from Sesame Street is played purely for comedic value (and has a trope named for him), but all his supposedly funny mistakes show all the signs of advanced dementia. What person thought that would be a great concept for a Butt Monkey character on a kids show?
- This is probably why he hasn't been seen in new episodes that much since the 90s, and lots of research about Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease (and some of those kids being taken care of by grandparents with those afflictions) coming in. His puppeteer's death in 1992 probably also factored into his disappearance.
- A Season 1 episode of How I Met Your Mother which detailed Barney's Start of Darkness. All played for laughs, ending with an Ignored Epiphany for the cherry on top.
- Jade Empire Black Whirlwind would be utterly Ax-Crazy if he weren't so funny about it.
- HK-47 in Knights of the Old Republic is the same, especially as he's open about it.
- In Dragon Age II, Isabela's attachment issues and nymphomania are played for laughs unless Hawke pursues a romance with her.
- The relationship tester in Fire Emblem Awakening, done by Old Hubba and available in the extras menu, comes with a warning that it is completely played for laughs and should not be taken seriously, most likely to avoid massive Internet Backdraft from the fanboys and fangirls when Old Hubba gives a bad fortune and sinks their favorite ship.
- Little Shop of Horrors does this with man-eating Plant Aliens and sadistic dentists.
- The Mikado does this with all manner of bloodthirstiness, despite being a light romantic comedy, including, for example, a song ("The Criminal Cried as He Dropped Him Down") in which the chorus goes:
As the sabre trueCut cleanly throughHis cervical vertebraeHis vertebrae!
- Depending on your interpretation (not to mention the director's), Titus Andronicus might be played this way, with murder, genocide, rape, infidelity and cannibalism Played for Laughs
- Zaboo from The Guild's Stalker with a Crush behavior would be horrifically creepy in Real Life, but on the show it's over the top funny (to everyone except Codex, the target of his affections, but even she stops being creeped out and is instead mostly just annoyed by it).
- The blog Cut! is Slender Man Played for Laughs. At one point, Slendy himself actually bumps into a clear glass door before slinking off in embarrassment.
- The infamous "Yelling At Cats" video is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's intended to be humorous, but most people do not think screaming verbal abuse at animals is at all funny.
- The MurderMen of the Thrilling Adventure Hour are basically a combination of zombies and serial killers. Their attempts to MurderMan and ManMurder people are usually hysterical instead of horrifying.
- Invader Zim does this to the old chestnut of an alien coming to infiltrate society, in all but one episode- the pure Nightmare Fuel that is "Dark Harvest".
- The infamous Lucy-pulling-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown gag in the Peanuts series.
- KaBlam!: Billy from "The Off-Beats", The Running Gag in the series usually involved Billy saying something that would get Tina mad, and then the Populars would throw him out of the group, causing Billy to crash into something.
- Teen Titans in the episode "Fear Itself". Beast Boy, being an aficionado of horror movies, spends most of the episode (until he's caught) telling everyone not to split up as the monster always gets his targets easier that way, and that he, the funny guy, will inevitably be taken first. He ends up being right.