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Redundant Parody
aka: Photocopy Parody
"This is one of those moments where I think, “Oh, is my stock joke about one of the strips I cover really accurate?” and then realize “Yes, it’s more horribly accurate than I could ever have wanted it to be.”"
- Josh Fruhlinger, The Comics Curmudgeon

Parodies are hard to write if you're unfamiliar with the original work. Sometimes, you'll make points that the work itself refutes. Sometimes, you'll treat tongue-in-cheek works like they're serious. But some spoofs make an even more serious error. They try to mock the original work with their own humorous spin but reproduce the original instead of parodying it.

The original included the exact same material, perhaps as a self-aware joke, which renders the parody superfluous. As a result, the parody doesn't actually twist or exaggerate the original work. People unfamiliar with the original may laugh at the joke, but others will be put off by the spoof writer's ignorance and the redundancy of the resultant parody.

Some comedy writers avoid this trap by limiting their targets. RiffTrax refuses to mock comedies, fearing their commentary will sound too much like the original. For parodies that do this deliberately, to send the implied message "We can't make this any dumber than it already is", see Spoofed with Their Own Words.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Spain, saying you're "turning black" means you're getting angry, much like a video game boss Turns Red, but black. A Dragon Ball parody comic had Mr. Popo (Who is black) say he was "turning black" as a joke... except he actually says that on the Spanish anime dub at one point.

    Comic Books 
  • Early in Marvel Comics' parody What Th—?! series, writer-artist John Byrne penned a story in which Superman and the Fantastic Four meet. After the Thing shows up, Byrne adds a footnote saying, "I'm sorry, it's impossible to write parody Thing dialogue that doesn't sound like the real thing."

    Fan Works 
  • At the height of Pottermania were many out-of-touch parodies that focused around the idea of Harry and his friends growing up and becoming teenagers with all the foibles that entails such as sexual attraction and social awkwardness ("Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty"). Of course, this is what much of the series actually concerns itself with. Apparently they assumed later entries to continue the "kid in a candy store" sense of wonder from the first book (perhaps combined with Not Allowed to Grow Up) instead of maturing along with the target audience.
  • There are often Naruto parodies where other, better ninjas will mock Naruto for all of his negative traits, such as his lack of stealth, annoying attitude, and small movepool. Name a single Naruto character that DOESN'T do one of these and they're from Shippuden.

    Film 
  • Seltzer and Friedberg, masters of the Shallow Parody, typically parody trailers rather than actual films; as such they have no idea if their "jokes" will actually be in the final films (which inevitably come out before their own movies do). Highlights include:
    • Epic Movie decided to parody X-Men by having Wolverine bend his claws to look like he was flipping the bird, even though this same joke was used at one point in the original movie.
    • Friedberg and Seltzer continue this in Vampires Suck. The trailer contains a joke where the Jacob ripoff character says his contract states he must be shirtless every 10 minutes. This might be amusing until you consider that his constant shirtlessness was already lampshaded in the Twilight movies.
  • Acknowledged in a way, by Roger Ebert in his review of Raise Your Voice:
    Sizing up Terri's wardrobe and her smile, she tells her: "You're like some kind of retro Brady Buncher." I hate it when a movie contains its own review.
  • A common joke about or criticism of RoboCop (1987) is that ED-209 is really terribly designed for a police robot. The entire reason the title character exists at all is because of in-universe Troubled Production for ED, which ultimately culminates in the glitchy, poorly-conceived robot gunning down an OCP employee during a meeting intended to demonstrate its capabilities. Hence, Robocop is created to have something with ED's durability and a human's better judgement. On top of this, ED's difficulty fitting through normal-sized doors and inability to traverse stairs with its over-sized feet are what allow Robocop to escape when attacked by one. The entire satirical thrust of this element is that it's a flashy toy designed solely to sell, with the issue of whether it actually works being a secondary concern at best (as the ED-209's model designer quipped, "just like an American car").
  • A lot of people make fun of Space Jam saying that it was made for the purpose of Product Placement. There are in fact scenes in the movie that already do this, such as Bugs and Daffy complaining about not getting royalties, and Daffy mentioning that the Looney Tunes are trademark characters of Warner Bros.
  • Several film critics have made this point about the Johnny English films (and by extension, the entire sub-genre of James Bond parodies): with the exception of the Darker and Edgier Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig films, every James Bond film has been a tongue-in-cheek take on the spy thriller genre, rendering any parody thereof superfluous.

    Gamebooks 
  • Spot's Third First Christmas, according to author Kibo, was "a parody of those crappy 'Choose Your Adventure' books" with many bad endings and only one happy ending which is unreachable from any path. One actual book in the CYOA series, "Inside UFO 54-40," the best ending was deliberately unreachable (and not unreachable by oversight, as it was in plenty of others).

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • One of the very last Bob Hope specials on NBC tried to lampoon the 1989 Batman movie, and had Hope done up as Jack Nicholson's Joker. Both Batman and Superman were in the skit, and Hope refers to them by derisive names like "Bat-Brain" and "Super-Stupe", and getting laughs from his equally aging studio audience. Hope and his writers must have thought that villains do not talk like that to heroes, but especially since Denny O'Neil, this is almost exactly the way the Joker talks down to opponents.
  • In 1995 Saturday Night Live did a Cirque du Soleil spoof — Alegria was in New York at the time — in which the highlight was a male performer presenting a female performer a bottle of wine, which was treated by the emcee as an amazing and whimsical feat. The skit suffers if you've seen the non-touring Las Vegas production Mystere (which opened in 1993), in which a clown presents a woman with champagne as part of an elaborate comic setpiece.
  • The Chronicle was a Sci Fi Channel TV show that attempted to parody the tabloids, by stating that everything in them was true. The first episode parodied (or ripped off) the plot of the first Men In Black film. Thing is, Men In Black was already a parody/comedy, so there was very little that could be made fun of — and it had already used the joke of the tabloids being true.
  • The Dead Ringers Doctor Who spoofs are insanely well-researched as the writers are all big fans, but one of these managed to slip in there. In a sketch where several of the Doctors are celebrating Christmas together, there's a scene where the Ninth Doctor is flicking through Christmas television trying to find something to watch with the Fourth and Seventh Doctors, identifying celebrities and deciding that they are aliens. ("Cat Deeley! Alien!" "The Queen! Alien!") This exact same joke is used by the Ninth Doctor in the very first Ninth Doctor episode, in which he flips through one of Jackie Tyler's gossip magazines and identifies which ones are aliens.
    • The premise of the skit, too (multiple incarnations of the Doctor having a Christmas party together), was done in an Expanded Universe anthology story published as part of Short Trips: "The Feast of Seven... Eight (and Nine)".
  • Most parodies of The Muppet Show go after subjects (Carnivore Confusion, Interspecies Romance, etc.) that were already extensively lampshaded and discussed in the show itself.

    Music 
  • There's a parody out there of "The Blue Tail Fly" in which the chorus is changed to "Jimmy drinks corn, and I don't care", meaning that Jimmy is drinking corn whiskey. Apparently the would-be parodists were unaware that the most common interpretation of the lyric "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care" is that of "cracking corn", which is to say, making corn whiskey. They not only failed to parody it, they arguably watered it down a notch...
  • The Youtube meme of taking isolated vocal tracks of classic songs and running them through Microsoft's Songsmith program has led to some hilarious musical juxtapositions ("Crazy Train" as bluegrass, "Ace of Spades" as folk-pop). The lounge jazz version of "Runnin' With The Devil" by Van Halen is amusing, but David Lee Roth did several loungey Cover Versions in his solo career ("Just a Gigolo", "That's Life"), and he even released an album of Van Halen hits rearranged as bluegrass versions in 2006, so it's not really that outlandish of an idea.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Mother Goose and Grimm:
    • There was a comic once of a man watching TV with a woman behind him looking shocked, and the caption, "Scully discovers the XXX Files." Which wasn't actually funny if you had any knowledge of The X-Files, since it was well-established that Mulder really did stash porn all over the office, and that Scully was perfectly aware of it and didn't care. (Not that it would be all that funny anyway...)
    • Another strip featured Edward Scissorhands playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with a little kid, and continually losing. This joke especially falls flat considering it was used in the movie as a running gag. And he did it again.
  • Inverted and Hilarious in Hindsight in an Off The Mark comic making fun of The Simpsons. Bart goes to a barber who is confused as to where his head ends and hairline begins. This joke was made on the show years later.
  • Bill Watterson barely dodged this with a few Calvin and Hobbes strips in which Calvin tries to get Hobbes interested in the magazine Chewing, which is completely devoted to bubble gum. All the various gums are profiled like baseball stars, with "stats" and attributes. All Hobbes could say was, "What kind of nut would care about all this?" But Watterson later admitted that at the time he had drawn those strips, there were already a huge number of absurdly detailed magazines about freakishly specific topics, and so a magazine about bubble gum documenting "flavor retention" and such was only a slight exaggeration of reality. ("It's hardly satire.")

    Print Media 
  • MAD, in its 1950s Comic Book incarnation, sometimes ended up committing this trope. In their Disney parody, for example, much of the humor derived from Donald Duck losing his clothes and getting captured by a duck farmer who could barely understand him. Pretty funny in itself, but Donald winding up naked and coming off as incomprehensible due to his quacking voice happened in quite a few actual Donald Duck cartoons (though not necessarily at the same time).
    • Inverted and Hilarious in Hindsight with a Shrek scenes we'd like to see comic written when the first movie was released. It shows Donkey with dragon/donkey hybrid babies. This became a reality in the sequels.
  • Cracked sometimes engaged in this as well, often parodying works that were satirical to begin with, including Hot Shots! and South Park.

    Radio 
  • The Bob & Tom Show likes to cast its hosts and/or characters in wacky variants on recent hit movies, and fell victim to this when they cast white trash caricature Donnie Baker in "Funeral Crashers" — apparently unaware that the concept of picking up women at a funeral had already been explored in the third act of Wedding Crashers.

    Theater 
  • Lampshaded/parodied by Forbidden Broadway's take on "The Song That Goes Like This" from Spamalot. The song starts out using the exact same lyrics as the original, then points out that fact, and then accuses the show of stealing from Forbidden Broadway.
  • When the cast of Wicked appeared in a German talkshow, the host joked about Elphaba: "That's what happens if you eat too much spinach as a child." In the musical, Elphaba does in fact sarcastically remark to the other students: "No, I'm not seasick. Yes, I've always been green. No, I did not eat grass as a child."

    Video Games 
  • There is a somewhat common joke among the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom concerning the fact that Sonic Drift (and later on, Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing) has Sonic, whose defining trait is his Super Speed, driving in a race car. While this seems justified, it ignores that the manual for Drift clarifies that Sonic does dislike cars, and it's clear in both games that he's only using a car to keep the competition balanced for all the other racers.

    Web Comics 
  • This Bob the Angry Flower parody sequel to Atlas Shrugged has been widely circulated where people admit, sometimes quite proudly, that they found Ayn Rand's book too long to read. If they had actually read it through, they might have discovered that industrialists such as Dwight Sanders do take up farming after leaving the world behind for Galt's Gulch.
    • Notley later apologized for this and produced another cartoon that spoofed Objectivism directly and more accurately.
  • This comic becomes significantly less funny if one realizes that beating other proto-humans over the head with the bone is actually what the proto-human did immediately after the iconic monolith scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Web Original 
  • Avatar: The Abridged Series suffers from this some of the time, due to parodying a show that already has a high joke quotient. For example, its parody of the episode "The Storm" has a scene where Katara says: "Aang would never run away! [Aang gets on his glider and flies off] Aang, stop running away!" The original was exactly the same, only with different wording.
  • Before he became The Irate Gamer, Chris Bores made a "parody" of MythBusters. Though it's not as much a parody as it is a bland imitation.
  • Key of Awesome's "I Need A Doctor" parody pokes fun at the Ho Yay between Dr Dre and Eminem by having Eminem hit blatantly on Dre, Dre responding with a sarcastic and only mildly irritated rejection, and Eminem desperately attempting to backpedal and pretend he didn't mean it to regain some shred of heterosexuality. Eminem used this exact same joke in the song and video "Just Lose It", where he hits on Dre at a bar, and when he gets shot down, claims he's blind. The song and video also had a Ho Yay-ridden hook that went "Yeah, boy, shake that thing - whoops, I mean girl. Girl girl girl" and a section where Eminem cosplayed gay icon Madonna.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • In his Top 11 Drug PSAs, he makes a joke about a Star Wars smoking a cigarette when robots don't have lungs to damage...which C-3PO himself comments in the PSA.
    • Referenced in his A Simple Wish review when he yells at the character with a magic wand, "stop turning my jokes into things that already exist!"
    • In his review of Space Jam, he makes fun of how there's no reason for Bill Murray to be in this movie. Murray himself comments in the film that there's no reason for him to be there other than he knew someone in writing.
  • An online video called The Hungry Games, mocking the trailer for The Hunger Games by making it about an eating contest, calls the main character "Catnip" as a Parody Name. The creator evidently didn't realize that in-universe, that's Gale's personal nickname for Katniss.
  • How It Should Have Ended's video for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake had Erin beat Leatherface by just kicking him in the balls. She did kick him in the balls in the actual film (in the meat freezer scene) and it barely slowed him down.
  • This often happens in snarky blogs. For example, the review Jesus Beezus (a blog of the Ramona Quimby books) does of Ramona and her Mother has this line:
    "Mr. and Mrs. Quimby get into a sniping contest about whose grandmother was better. Yeah, really, that's what they fight about. Lame."
    • However, the Quimbys acknowledge later how ridiculous their fight was and Mrs. Quimby even jokes to her daughters:
    "We want you to be perfect so you won't grow up to bicker about your grandmothers and their pancakes."
  • RiffTrax ran into this problem with The Avengers, with Joss Whedon's typically witty script. At one point Bill makes a joke only to have Tony Stark repeat it, and Mike responds, "I keep telling you, you have to make better jokes than Robert Downey Jr. or this whole thing collapses on itself!"
  • The /b/tards at 4chan had this idea in 2014 to create a fake "Fourth Wave Feminism" via social media that they hoped would idealize thin, sexy bodies and divide feminists. One of the hallmarks of the supposed movement they created a hashtag and fake photos to spread via Twitter and Tumblr was "Free bleeding", i.e., women not using feminine hygiene products because they were "oppressive." As The Daily Dot reported, this was an idea that real feminists have actually discussed more than once in the past—the Google hits they found went back at least ten years.

    Western Animation 


Real Trailer, Fake MovieParody TropesSatire/Parody/Pastiche

alternative title(s): Photocopy Parody; Parody Failure; Nominal Parody
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