In comedy, two normal items followed by a non sequitur or humorous third item. The classic example is "Can I get you anything? Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?" from The Dick Van Dyke Show
, to the point where a bumper running on Nick At Nite
specifically explained the structure of the joke.
Not to be confused with My Friends... and Zoidberg
, where the things listed are one or more categories, and the non sequitur is an insult to a listener who ostensibly fits one of the categories.
Informed by the Rule of Three
(two items set up a pattern, and then the third breaks it, subverting expectations and registering as funny). It helps that these things tend to be rapid-fire, so that viewers have just barely noticed the pattern before the punchline hits.
Subtrope of The Last of These Is Not Like the Others
. See also Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
; The Three Certainties in Life
; Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
, and A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma
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- An old Sega ad had a stewardess saying, "Coffee? Tea? SEGA!"
- A State Farm commercial has an alien mecha that seems to target one person.
Anime and Manga
- In an episode of Excel♥Saga, Il Palazzo is playing a dating sim, and the third option is always "put it in".
- A very common stock joke phrase used in Japan (and in Japanese media), typically in a "man arriving home from work" context, goes like "Would you like a bath? Or dinner? Or maybe m.e.?"note .
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation:
Clark: Can I refill your egg nog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
- Working Girl: "Coffee? Tea? Me?"note
- The Nutty Professor (the Eddie Murphy one): "Anything I can get for you? Juice? Coffee? Rack of lamb?"
- Miss Congeniality: "By the way, what are you planning to do for your talent: sing, dance, chew with your mouth closed?"
- In The Addams Family, Morticia is clearing out a closet and finds three bags. In bag #1, "Uncle Knick-knack's Winter Wardrobe". In bag #2, "Uncle Knick-knack's Summer Wardrobe". In bag #3, "Uncle Knick-knack."
- In Ice Age, Manny to Sid: "Is there no-one else that you can annoy? Friends? Family? Poisonous Reptiles?"
- In Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle: "Go on inside, boys, and make yourselves at home. You can rest up, get something to drink, fuck my wife, whatever you want. Just don't do anything the good lord wouldn't do."
- Cogsworth's suggestions in Beauty and the Beast as to what The Beast could give Belle as a gift. "Well, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep." The last of these was actually a Throw It In by Cogsworth's voice actor, David Ogden Stiers.
- The X-Files: Fight the Future: When Scully got Mulder big time, it was Mulder's turn to buy them something to drink:
Scully: You're buying.
Mulder: What? Coke, Pepsi, saline IV?
Scully: (smiling) Something sweet.
- In The Avengers Tony Stark asks Bruce Banner how he stays calm.
Tony:What's your secret? Relaxing jazz, bongo drums, huge bag of weed?
- Cotton McKnight, the announcer from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is rather prone to these.
Cotton: Tomorrow we separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian.
- Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet: Countess Thun's favourite reading? Dante, Goethe, and Nick Carter's stories.note
- A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!: The live-action film has Timmy's parents attempting to offer gifts to Tootie when they try to marry their son off to her:
Mr. Turner: We'll give you money!
Mrs. Turner: Livestock!
Mr. Turner: Raisins!
Live Action TV
Captain Montgomery: Feds say he is a white male, 25 to 45 years old.
Castle: (to himself) Could be me.
Captain Montgomery: With a dysfunctional relationship with his mother.
Castle: Still me.
Captain Montgomery: He has a menial, unimportant job.
Castle: Just for that, my next book is based on Esposito.
- In Eureka, Dr. Boyle lists off his grandmother's missing heirlooms after the bank is stolen. She had a gold wedding ring, a pearl necklace, some antimatter...
- Friends did a variation on this. When Rachel's pregnancy became a plot point at the beginning of season eight, Phoebe tries to figure out who the father is. When she invites the (wrong) man to the coffee house and it's revealed that, no, Tag is not the father, Phoebe is understandably embarrassed.
Phoebe: Can I get anyone anything? Coffee? Tea? Poison? Just me? Okay.
- In Stargate Universe, when Volker needs a kidney transplant:
Park: Still a lot of other potential post-operative drawbacks. Infection, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction...
(everyone except Volker snickers)
Volker: Why is that funny?
(everyone else snickers again)
- Star Trek in its various incarnations has a tendency to do this when a character is comparing someone to great artists, scientists, explorers or whatever: they will list two ones from our past and an unfamiliar third, often sounding like that of an alien. Alternately, two historical people and one contemporary. (Granted, this person may well be considered historical by their standards.) An example is when listing blind poets and going with "Homer, Dante, Wonder."
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: The trope is played for humor when Amanda Rogers, an intern on Enterprise, has superpowers and Q is sent to investigate.
Q: Very impressive the way you contained that explosion. What else have you done?
Amanda Rogers: I-I don't understand.
Q: Telekinesis? Teleportation? Spontaneous combustion of someone you don't like? (shoots a meaningful glance at Picard)
- Game of Thrones. Jaime Lannister is shamelessly trolling the huge female knight who's holding him captive. "Have you known many men? Women? Horses?"
- In Two and a Half Men, this is how others react to the news that Jake heard Judith and Herb having sex through his bedroom wall.
- Angel. "The Girl in Question"
- Our Miss Brooks has one rapid-fire breakfast exchange with her landlady:
Miss Brooks: Toast?
Mrs. Davis: Toast.
Miss Brooks: Cereal?
Mrs. Davis: Cereal.
Miss Brooks: Hat-coat-and-bicarbonate?
Mrs. Davis: ...
- Done by the Voiceover Guy for the introduction of the 1990's X-Files spoof, The X Fools.
"They are two unusual agents investigating unusual mysteries. Haunted houses...UFO's...If a man climbs a mountain because it's there, why doesn't he do the washing up?
- The Abduction of Figaro by Music: P.D.Q. Bach:
Donna Donna: You worm! You skunk! You yellow-bellied imperialist running-dog!
- Sunday In The Park With George, "Color And Light":
George: More red... More blue... More beer...
- The song "I Believe" in The Book of Mormon is built around this structure, but interestingly the third item isn't even a joke, technically, but rather a real Mormon belief that just sounds really bizarre out of context.
"I believe that the Lord God created the universe. I believe that he sent his only son to die for my sins. And I believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America..."
- The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) explains that the Letters basically teach three things: "Love the Lord thy God"; "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; and "Women: you're responsible for the downfall of mankind, so shut up and obey your husbands."
- In The Lazer Collection 3 a gritty new detective comments that a detail of the case he was assigned is, quote, odd. This launches his senior officer into a mini-rant.
: Odd? Odd is Benjamin Franklin playing tetherball with Van Helsing. Odd is a big-toed tadpole tainted by the tides of a dawn since past. Odd is a 40 year old senior officer who cries himself to sleep every night dreaming of a life on the road as a traveling naked contortionist, never returning home, never stopping or breaking his stride! ... Unless he saw a TGI Fridays. He f**king
loves that place.
Detective Randall: * stare*
Senior Officer: This isn't odd, Randall. This... is a mystery.
- When Tweeterman287 reviewed a handheld game console, he said (holding up each object in turn) "Rapid-fire size comparison so you can get an idea of the size of this in real life. X-Box 360 controller, PSP-3000, and a turtle made out of clay."
- According to Cracked, success depends on three things: Talent, hard work, and randomly meeting the right people and not pissing them off.
- Freemans Mind has an episode where he yells to a vortigaunt alien:
Freeman: You stay on your side of the line! Your side of the line is where everyone is dead. My side of the line is filled with love, hope, and sub-machine guns!
- This article. "Skinny jeans, adult films, human excrement sell 'like hot cakes' in North Korea"
- During the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards were the three candidates left in the race, Obama mentioned in one of the debates how historic a time it was, because it included the first African American final contender for the presidential campaign, the first woman, and John.