"That's not funny. But don't worry; it's a running joke, so they'll repeat it several times until you have no choice but to find it funny."
A joke that is only mildly funny the first time, but becomes funnier each time it is repeated. Must
be repeated at least three times
. But repeat it too
many times and it becomes an Overly-Long Gag
. A variant is a joke or scene that occurs Once an Episode
; doing that
too often threatens to turn it into an Overused Running Gag
The ultimate fear for the use of any running gag is not that it becomes an Overly-Long Gag
; rather, it is that it was never funny in the first place. Nothing is worse than starting a one hour show with a joke that bombs that you're going to use twenty times over the next hour.
A Running Gag can be limited to a particular episode or recur throughout an entire series. If it recurs throughout an entire series, then it will often develop variations and/or be accompanied by Lampshade Hanging
. If a character breaks the fourth wall
to mention it, it's Didn't We Use This Joke Already?
A comedy Catch Phrase
is a type of Running Gag. Can become potential for Memetic Mutation
if the gag itself is widely applicable. Compare Arc Words
, which are a recurring phrase that isn't a gag. See subtropes Once per Episode
and Every Episode Ending
May or may not have anything to do with rapidly exiting the area for a Vomit Discretion Shot