"If it's good for laughs, if it works, just do it."
Any violation of continuity
, or common sense
is permissible if the result gets enough of a laugh.
This is the comedy equivalent of the Rule of Cool
, and is accordingly weighted more in comedy shows. Especially easy to invoke in humor-based American animation and webcomics
, where people expect the lack of realism in the art to translate to other areas.
Compare Rule of Fun
Tropes existing purely due to the Rule Of Funny:
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Anime and Manga
Films — Animated
- The Disney animation The Emperor's New Groove repeatedly emphasizes its own ludicrous plot holes with lines such as "Now, what are the odds that trap door would lead me out here?"
Kuzco: No... It can't be! How did you get here before us?
Yzma: Ah- uh, how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Got me. *pulls out a map, showing the two parties' paths* By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
- In Atlantis The Lost Empire a chalk map that rubs off on Milo's shirt is not reversed, as the gag of Milo having to stand in that position would have been voided. The directors were amused that test audiences complained more about that detail and its plausibility than in the following scene where a photograph whirs into life in a 1920's movie style.
- The Madagascar movies follow RoF to an increasing degree with every movie.
- Ice Age has characters that might act goofy or out of character if the writers think the joke is funny. For example, Diego is a mostly serious character yet will start acting silly or goofy if the joke depends on it (like him trying to hide that Sid's family abandoned him again by saying they were destroyed by an asteroid).
Films — Live-Action
- In the Discworld universe, this is an actual rule, akin to a law of physics. Terry Pratchett, author of the series, has cited this rule in interviews. GURPS Discworld (co-authored by Pratchett himself) elaborates that it is a corollary of the Law of Narrative Causality, known as the Rule of Universal Humour. That term appears once in the novels themselves, mentioned as the reason someone still had his hat on after being turned into a pumpkin.
- Tom Holt and Robert Rankin have based their entire careers on this. With Holt, you know the book you're reading is based on the same plot as the last five books of his you read — and you don't care; with Rankin... well... the closest description anyone's ever found to his books is The Goon Show on crack, and this is pretty much the only rule it abides by.
- Craig Shaw Gardner's Cineverse Cycle, as a parody of B movies in general, pretty much lives and breathes this trope, whether it's the subtitles that appear underneath the inhabitants of the "foreign film" universe whenever they speak, or the mad scientist who turns into a Gargamel Expy whenever he's around this bunch of fluffy bunnies in the "cartoon" universe, or the slime monster in the "horror" universe which turns out to be the formerly-missing chimp companion of the Tarzan Expy in the "adventure" universe, clad in a monster suit.
- The steampower on which the works of P. G. Wodehouse run. Bizarre coincidences are commonplace, the Smart Ball and the Idiot Ball get juggled around by just about everyone, and the same things happen ten million times. By general consensus, he is the funniest writer in the English language.
- Deconstructed in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates, which is set in a Pocket Dimension based on jokes, but makes it clear that it's not funny if it actually happens to you.
- Magic in the Harry Potter universe is half this, half whatever the plot needs.
Live Action TV
- Any "plot" elements in Mystery Science Theater 3000. See the mantra. For example, Season 7 ended with Dr. Forrester being reborn and then killed by Pearl, who then freezes herself. A later episode shows her and the cast go back to the present, so the second Dr. Forrester would still be around, if it had to make sense.
- While Tom Servo's arms are stated in-universe to be non-functional, he will nonetheless hold on to anything he needs so long as it leads to a funny gag.
- On the show Merlin during the episode "A Servant of Two Masters", Merlin continuously (and humorously) fails to kill Arthur by using weapons and chemicals.It is because of this trope the Merlin doesn't use magic to try and kill Arthur.
- Penny's intelligence and Sheldon's social skills in TheBigBangTheory both tend to vary wildly based on this trope.
- The title character of Angel could go from dead serious to goofball surprisingly fast.
- In fact, the entire point of "Smile Time" seems to be this trope. There is a mysterious bad guy, it could do anything. Why would it turn Angel into a puppet? Because it's hilarious, that's why.
- Actually, it's symbolic of the fact that Angel has been various people's puppets pretty much since the show began, and the purpose of the egg was to turn demons into puppets (so they could take over a kid's show)...
- But, mostly, it's really, really funny.
- Pretty much what Red Dwarf is made of. The premise, every episode, almost every scene, and a whole lot of the individual lines are all just completely ridiculous (the characters giving out one-liners that are completely inappropriate to the situation is practically a staple of the show), that it's probably used about half of the sub-pages listed above at one point or another. And needless to say, all of this is forgiven by the fans, as it's probably one of the funniest (and most underappreciated) TV shows ever made, because as long as it's funny, it works.
- One of the show's creator's strategies apparently seems to be finding Refuge in Audacity. The sheer amount the show uses is perfectly exemplified in a condensed four minutes in the famous return of Ace Rimmer, where he escapes from ropes by dislocating both of his shoulders (yet retains full use of his arms for the remainder of the scene), shrugs off bullets with mild annoyance at his clothes being ruined, and flies a motorcycle. And then some. Really, it's easier if you just watch it. What a guy! (The fact that he's actually a solid hologram either explains it or makes all ten times better/worse.)
- They briefly Flanderized Holly's senility for a joke multiple times, with the extreme being "White Hole" (in which (s)he was counting by banging her head on the screen). However, (s)he is shown to be much more lucid (if not necessarily brilliant) in other episodes, notably in "Queeg" with a well-planned hoax based on the idiot-perception and in "Back to Reality" when (s)he saves the entire crew. Also, "White Hole" itself establishes that the ship's power generation requires her input, making you wonder why something hasn't exploded yet.
- Perhaps the flaw of the final two series where whole scenes seem to have been tacked on mainly for laughs. The most glaring are the tap dancing shuttle craft scene and the Tyrannosaurus rex, (of course) eating a giant curry. Pretty base stuff by the series previous standards and not helped by some not-very-convincing CGI.
- There's a glorious piece in the script book, where Naylor describes, step by painstaking step, just how complex the dancing Blue Midget scene was to do, then going on the messageboards and learning "the fans hate it, they think it's filler".
- Many of the "challenges" in Top Gear. Why turn a truck into an amphibious vehicle? Why launch a car on a rocket only to see it hit the ground and then explode? Why make James May try to drive fast? (Or why let him get lost—actually lost—on a race track? Because it's funny, durn it!)
- On The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, George made it clear in his occasional asides to the audience that he would go along with anything as long as it was getting laughs.
- Pretty much one of the main reasons Adam as well as the Chuckleheads (Kari, Grant, and Tori) are around in MythBusters is because they all fulfill the Rule of Funny. Jamie and Adam admit they really aren't that fond of each other in real life - if it weren't for the Rule of Funny, you can bet your bottom it'd just be two Jamie type people.
- The reason X-Play was very fond of finding a quote they thought was amusing, then repeating it. Again. And again. And AGAIN!
- This is practically Hyde's excuse for his antics—"Because, it's funnier this way."
- As an unrestrained parody of Cowboy Cops, Sledgehammer runs entirely on Rule of Funny.
- Police Squad! is nothing but this trope. Not surprising, as it was developed by the folks behind Airplane
- Rule number one on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
- Frasier: There is no "Daphne Lane" in Seattle where Niles could find a street sign to steal (nor Maple Street, the intersection where he tries), but obviously you'd lose this plot if it were realistic.
- CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, Incredibly Strange Wrestling, and Lucha Va-Voom practically run on it.
- Why does Bluebottle in The Goon Show keep getting deaded by explosions even when he's in the middle of a desert on a different continent to the pile of dynamite he's fleeing, then come Back from the Dead to complain about being killed? Because it's funny. The same applies to...well...pretty much everything else related to the Goons.
- Destroy The Godmodder functions off of this, even as a game. It doesn't matter how good your attack is, if it isn't funny, it will almost never work. On the flip side, something that is inherently a baby of this has a far greater chance to succeed.
- One of the earliest examples was the summoning of Magikarp, who proceeds (through screwy mechanics) to flail at the godmodder, and then summon a tsunami. Guess which one connects.
- The election night newsreel in Of Thee I Sing relies heavily on the Rule of Funny. In particular, the actual opposition candidate is never identified, so all the election returns show Wintergreen vying with various celebrities, horses, intoxicating liquors, etc.
- Philocomasium's Zany Scheme in Miles Gloriosus depends very heavily on this, as she's masquerading as her free twin, while the man whose concubine she is has a guard for her.
- Kingdom of Loathing: A relentless Hurricane of Puns and a bizarre array of Everything Trying To Beat You Up make up only a fraction of the silliness.
- Conkers Bad Fur Day. To explain, antics such as producing toilet paper from Hammerspace when fighting a giant singing poo, and drinking from a conveniently placed keg in order to defeat fire imps with "yellow rain". Or as the game puts it, the "Context Sensitive Area".
- Atelier Series are lighthearted in general, but the Mana Khemia and DS games (Liese, Annie, and Lina) are practically made of this trope.
- Mass Effect 2's infamous "probing Uranus" joke requires a deviation from format to execute. Normally, when the player deploys a probe, the ship AI will say something like "Probe away" or "Deploying Probe." It never, never says "Probing [Planet Name]"... except when you launch a probe at Uranus, at which point you hear "probing Uranus."
- Bonus points to this one because EDI first asks: "Really, Commander?" One can practically hear the facepalm.
- Superhero League of Hoboken pretty much runs on this trope, with enemies like giant hamburgers and chests of drawers and superpowers like "eating spicy foods without distress" or "folding roadmaps correctly".
- The Dating Sim Always Remember Me has a few bonus silly endings where the protagonist declares her love for her high school sweetheart's father and the New Old Flame—as chibi versions of themselves.
- Bayonetta uses this a lot. To name a few instances:
- In one chapter, Bayonetta hijacks a motorcycle and starts it using her middle finger.
- If Bayonetta is crushed by large, ball-shaped objects, she gets flattened like a cartoon character, which looks very out-of-place in this game. It could either be this, the fact that the Umbran Witches may have the ability to flatten themselves, or both.
- In a scene where Luka and Cereza are making a daring escape, the camera zooms in on their faces as a sparkle comes from their eyes, accompanied by an Audible Gleam...and then Cereza's doll, Cheshire, even does it too, and meows as it does so.
- Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist: Do NOT attempt to follow any of the medical advice listed in the pharmacist's guide/manual. It is a parody of the more primitive state of medicine in the 19th Century and is only meant to be used as a source of humor and copy protection information.
- The entire basis for Goat Simulator, pretty much. Why are you playing a goat? Why are the in-game physics so terrible? Because it's funny.
- In 8-Bit Theater. Fighter and Red Mage regularly take actions that other characters realize should be completely impossible. The creator has said that the comic's continuity is whatever makes for the funniest joke at the time.
- Black Belt, who is notoriously bad at navigating, manages to get himself so lost that he goes back in time and encounters himself. Without any outside help. In a straight hallway. Yeah.
- Lampshaded recently when the character Drizz'l uses a joke to "break the ice". Literal ice. Everyone involved is amazed it worked. Drizz'l outright states he hates that it did.
- 8-Bit Theater isn't above having characters act completely out of character. At least, we've seen Fighter be intelligent and rational, Black Mage be cordial, and Red Mage briefly play The Straight Man.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is probably one of the most nonsensical works of fiction ever written. It's also absolutely hilarious.
- Sluggy Freelance lives and breathes this trope.
Dr Schlock: I'll be brief.
Kusari: I'll be briefer [kills Schlock, turns to Daedalus] I've located and eliminated Dr. Schlock as you ordered, Daedalus.
Daedalus: I wanted to hear what he had to say, but that was pretty funny so you get a pass.
- This very much governs Brat-Halla. It tends to hew surprisingly closely to accurate Norse mythology within the confines of its premise... except when it would be funnier not to. Thus, Tyr is a pacifist, Fenrir is a rock star, half the dark elves are poser goths and emo kids who hang around coffee shops, and the closest thing the comic has to a Big Bad is the eye Odin sacrificed to the Well of Mimir, imbued with sentience and severe abandonment issues.
- In Jayden and Crusader this is referenced by a simple Saxon/Norse superstition being used in the 21st century, and turning out to be true for only the comic in which it is mentioned.
- Later the Artist of J&C himself cited the Rule of Funny regarding his own work
- As does the webcomic Bob and George where this is called "The Gag Reflex".
- In Stickman and Cube, Humour is one of the main guiding forces of The Verse, the other being Necessity, that is to say, stuff happens according to what is funny or needed at the time.
- The The Wotch spin-off webcomic Cheer! features a pie catapult with an automatic targeting system designed to maximize laughs.
- Teen Girl Squad. "Wave O Babies."
- In The Order of the Stick, Redcloak is able to summon Elementals based on the chemical elements even though no explanation is given for how he has come to learn of their existence in the first place.
- He took a Chemistry course. And passed.
- Per Word of The Giant there are three priorities for writing each comic, the very first and highest, is Rule of Funny, followed by the story and finally the rules of D&D
- Questionable Content - "I have no idea whether this comic actually makes sense. All I know is I could not stop laughing as I drew the last panel."
- El Goonish Shive exists for this and Rule of Romantic. Slightly prone to Cerebus Syndrome.
- A lampshade is hung on it in Nodwick, when Nodwick is asked to lift a five-ton obelisk.
- Apparently Donovan Deegan has been pretending to suck at orcish for over twenty years purely because of this trope!
- In Girl Genius, Violetta is able to swap a hostage for a matching dummy of him, while the hostage is being physically held by his captor, while Violetta is physically separated from and arguing with said captor, with no explanation of where that dummy might possibly have come from. Just that she specializes in misdirection and sleight of hand.
- Electric Wonderland personifies the Rule of Funny in Aerynn Arlia, a Magical Girl with no apparent limits. Aerynn can literally do anything at any time, as long as it's amusing — usually with Buttmonkey NJ as the victim.
- Shortpacked!. How, exactly, did Galasso manage to resurrect Ronald Reagan (and later the historical Jesus)?
- Many things in Homestuck, as well as its predecessor, Problem Sleuth, can be explained by either this or Rule of Cool. Problem Sleuth leans more heavily on the "funny" side in comparison though.
"The villain [of Homestuck] is a FUCKING DOG WEARING SUNGLASSES."
- Compared to Problem Sleuth and Homestuck, their predecessor Jailbreak is even more so; Rule of Funny justifies its entire existence. It makes no pretense of having a coherent world or story; Rule of Funny is its be-all and end-all.
- Although there's a lot of Rule of Funny going on in Touhou Nekokayou, one scene sticks out to me. Why use a giant laser, Marisa, when you can use a giant pie?
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: Arale and Nekomajin have this as a power: Arale's basically an unconscious Reality Warper on Buu's level, and could have wiped the floor with Cell, and Nekomajin easily holds his own against Gotenks... as long as they can make a joke out of it.
- Two Guys and Guy: Not only is sex with Wayne so inherently shameful that inanimate objects are ashamed of it, even masturbatory aids have that reaction.
- The "Just for Fun" tropes on this site. Now, if only some people would realize that and stop putting them on the Cut List...
- L-Block wins GameFAQs Character Battle VI.
- Burnie Burns, writer of Red vs. Blue, explicitly stated in an interview that he would sacrifice continuity for the sake of a good joke even in the post-Cerebus Syndrome episodes of the series.
- Many jokes on the toad show are like this.
- Skippys List has the line "I’m funny, so they let me live" to explain why he got away with being a goofball in the US Army.
- YouTube Poop takes this Serial Escalation with every second making absolutely no sense in the least, but still being extremely popular with a massive fanbase.
- Shiny Objects Videos runs on pure Rule of Funny. Abandon your sense of reality, all ye who enter here.
- In Midnight Screenings, Brad tends to chew out the Fridge Logic of bad comedies, but says he would have excused them if the films were actually funny.
- In Brad Jones Demo Reel, it turns out a VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead can operate a camcorder.
- South Park is probably the ultimate litmus test for it. If they can't make it funny, no one can.
"You know what this means? AIDS is finally funny!"
- The Afterlife was never discussed in Season 1 of The Boondocks. However, in Episode 201, Stinkmeaner comes Back from the Dead. This is officially the funniest episode.
- The Cutaway Gag moments in Family Guy often show bizarre things. Their prevalence amped greatly following the series' return, which attracted criticism from various other cartoonists and comedians and was parodied in the "Cartoons Wars" episodes of South Park. MacFarlane's response was:
- "What should I know about the vast territory that lies beyond the confines of my little subculture of textbooks, Ramen noodles, coin-operated laundry and TV shows that seem to think they can skate by with random jokes about giant chickens that have absolutely nothing to do with the overall narrative? The boys at South Park are absolutely correct: Those cutaways and flashbacks have nothing to do with the story! They're just there to be... funny. And that is a shallow indulgence that South Park is quite above, and for that I salute them."
— Seth MacFarlane, in character as Stewie Griffin, Harvard Class Day 2006
- Arguably one of the most polarizing points in the show's evolution for fans was when the characterizations became dependant on the trope. Depending on the gag, the entire cast can switch between likeable yet wacky characters akin to the original episodes or Faux Affably Evil psychopaths taking part in high order Comedic Sociopathy. This is even more jarring when originally level headed and more humanized characters such as Lois and Brian join in on the sadism of a gag.
- SpongeBob SquarePants takes this trope to physics. For some reason, the characters can light fire, have snow, and running water, while the series takes place under water. Naturally, this leads to Lampshade Hanging:
Patrick: Hey, if we're underwater, how can there be a fi—(fire goes out)
- Another one is when a building is on fire. Disregarding the fact that they're underwater, the audience can accept this one. But then SpongeBob grabs a bucket, sweeps it through the "air" and collects a bucket of water to put out the fire. Hmmm...
- In "Doing Time" SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff drive over an unfinished bridge with the Mayor at the opening cutting the ribbon, because apparently in Bikini Bottom it's acceptable to open something that's half built.
- In the Geronimo Stilton cartoon, Geronimo's cousin Trap is asked to provide a diversion, while the rest of the mains sneak somewhere undetected by pe... other mice. What does Trap do? Pretend on being a space alien (complete with a toy helmet with antennas). Geronimo thinks this is stupid. However, the whole city, even the mayor, fall for it!
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Serpent's Pass" Toph is rescued from drowning by Suki and (thinking she is Sokka) gives her a big kiss. Even though Toph is blind, there was nothing to stop her from noticing the makeup during the kiss, but the resulting scene is funny.
- An instance similar to the SpongeBob example occurs in the Futurama episode "The Deep South", when Zoidberg's house burns to the ground... underwater. Zoidberg wails "How could this have happened?" and Hermes notes, "That's a very good question." Implicitly claiming responsibility, Bender picks his still-lit cigar out of the ruins and puffs on it — eliciting a cry of, "That just raises further questions!"
- What makes that really funny is that they explain everything that happens in that episode with pseudo-science (in fact, most of the episode is things being explained away.) But for that one last thing, there's absolutely no scientific reasoning.
- Futurama is fond of both this rule and lampshading it. In an early episode, aliens are threatening to invade Earth and the planet sends Zapp Branigan to destroy the mothership. After an epic battle with a massive, well-guarded space installation, Earth succeeds in destroying the thing. Zapp celebrates the victory, before a substantially larger ship pops into view. This, it turns out, is the mothership. When Zapp asks what they just destroyed, Kiff looks at a computer screen, groans and says, "The Hubble telescope." Series producer David X. Cohen said in the episode's commentary track that he knew the joke made absolutely no sense, but loved it so much he had to keep it in.
- Lampshaded again by Amy in an episode whose plot gets kicked off by the crew deciding to sign up for the gym. Leela and Amy walk into the Planet Express lounge, where a noticeably-chubby Fry and Bender are watching TV.
Look at you guys. No offense, Fry, but you've become a fat sack of crap. Fry: Sack
And Bender; your beer belly's so big your door won't even close. And that doesn't even make sense
- Note to non-fans: Bender (a robot) has a door on the front of his chasis. The door itself is subject to Rule of Funny; sometimes it's a storage compartment for Noodle Implements or for things Bender has stolen, sometimes it gives access to his hardware or software, sometimes it has buttons or diagrams on the inside — whatever the gag of the moment requires. Also, because Bender is a robot, he can't actually gain weight through over-consumption of food or drink, let alone develop a "beer belly".
- Most classic theatrical cartoons, particularly Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes and much of the oeuvre of Tex Avery. Don't question where the anvils are coming from, just laugh at it because it's silly.
- Why, they come from ACME, Inc. of course.
- In perhaps one of the most bizarre applications of the rule ever, the size of the character Endive in Chowder is governed by Rule of Funny. She can vary from about the same size as everyone else, if rather... large, to a towering giant, depending on what's needed for the joke at hand.
- Transformers Animated has a scene where Starscream, revived and granted immortality by a fragment of the Allspark, repeatedly tries, and fails, to kill Megatron. You'd probably spend the whole time wondering why the other Decepticons didn't try to get rid of him in any other way, were it not so amusing to see him getting blasted to crap and tossed into a river repeatedly.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Kid Stuff" the kidified Justice Leaguers face off against a baby version of the demon Etrigan. There is absolutely no reason at all for why Etrigan should be a baby or why Etrigan should be in this episode at all. One would think that Mordred would have banished Etrigan along with all the other adults, seeing as they've been mortal enemies literally for centuries. But damn if Baby Etrigan isn't the funniest thing you ever did see.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has a case of Rule of Funny backfiring: Father eating ice cream in Operation: Z.E.R.O.... instead of having an epic battle with Grandfather.
- Winx Club: This is probably the reason why Stella makes Kiko impersonate Flora in season 3 episodes 5 and 6 when there were enough pixies present to impersonate the other girls.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show basically operate on this.
- As does Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- Normal girls defeating Mojo Jojo with pillows at a slumber party on The Powerpuff Girls.
- Any Robot Chicken sketch. One that immediately comes to mind is Robin adding Beavis And Butthead to his team.
- An episode of The Simpsons entitled "Cape Feare" invokes this trope to a significant extent. It was the last hurrah for a number of the show's original writers who were leaving. They threw every wacky or random gag into the episode with the mentality of "What are they going to do? Fire us?" This resulted in one of the most highly regarded episodes of the show ever.
- The Simpsons is a Long Runner which slips a running gag past the Moral Guardians. Bumbling Dad and Jerk Ass Homer repeatedly strangles his son, Bart. This is always Played for Laughs and excused on the Rule of Funny. This may also serve as a show Getting Crap Past the Radar thanks to a show-level version of the Grandfather Clause; child abuse as comedy is not going to fly on most shows.
- Which makes it even funnier when they do treat it as child abuse. One episode had Homer take fathering lessons. He tells the class a story where Bart, the little dickens, calls him fat. He then casually say 'so then I was strangling him when...' causing the whole group to drop their jaws and question what kind of man he is. Completely played for laughs how they react, and even has Homer reveal that's how he was raised, not that Abe strangled him when he did bad, but that Homer strangled his father every time he tried to punish him. One of the funiest scenes ever.
- On the 80's G.I. Joe, Barbecue receives several cryptic phone calls from someone calling himself 'The Viper'. Each call gives information that ends up leading to victories over Cobra, and both sides desperately want to know who he is; Cobra to stop the leak, the Joes who fear an eventual set-up. Finally, the Viper reveals himself he is an older Eastern European man with a thick accent, 'The Wiper' there to 'Vipe Your Vindows'. Now, there are any number of ways both Joe and Cobra could have found this out long before the ba-rump-bump ending, such as hearing the joke before. None of them would have been as funny.
- Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic regularly pulls off hilariously impossible feats like being in multiple places at the same time, outrunning the faster flier in Equestria while only moving at a casual skipping pace, or randomly appearing in places she couldn't possibly fit into. By 'couldn't possibly fit into' we mean Pinkie at one point simply manifests in a mirror. This may or may not have something to do with her connection to the Element of Laughter.
- In the Regular Show episode "Prankless" where a rival park is in a deadly prank war with the protagonists, Muscle Man defeats Gene, the rival park's manager, by scaring him with the illusion of him headed toward the sun. After Gene submits, Muscle Man explains it with mirrors.
- There was an episode of the Disney show The Buzz on Maggie in which Maggie got electrocuted by her older brother's hand buzzer, resulting in X-Ray Sparks. It should be noted that this show is a high-school comedy involving insects, and insects do not have inner skeletons.