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
Anime and Manga
- Most of the middle of Ep. 4 in Umineko no Naku Koro ni 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 to Test to Shoukanjuu 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.
- 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, 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?
- 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.
- Many of the characters that fit under The Ace would be God Mode Sues if their absurd competence was not funny.
- 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 true
Cut cleanly through
His cervical vertebrae
- 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.