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Cannot Tell a Joke

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"Know the joke. Know it cold. Know it. Know it. Anyone who gets halfway through a joke and says, 'And then, ah...let's see...I think he says something like...' should be stabbed with a dinner knife."

Despite the title, this is, in fact, a comedy trope. Because there is something funny about watching someone attempting to be funny and failing. To be funny, that is. It's just funny. Got it?

This is essentially a character who screws up any attempt to tell a joke. Perhaps they forget the punchline, perhaps they have no sense of timing, perhaps they try to explain it until it stops being funny, or perhaps the joke never had a chance to be funny to begin with. Whatever the case, any attempt to make a joke will leave their intended audience staring at them dumbfounded. (Or possibly laughing, but not for the intended reason, if the intended audience enjoys Anti-Humor, which this often bears unintentional resemblance to.)

For bonus irony, may be followed by a Rimshot.

Compare and contrast with No Sense of Humor, when the audience is at fault, and Humor Dissonance, when the jokes are supposed to be funny but the audience disagrees.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Madam Red in Black Butler. The audience never gets to hear the joke but the cast's reactions range from blank stares to confusion.
    • It runs in the family. When her nephew (the main character, Ciel) has to make the Undertaker laugh to get information from him, we see Sebastian wait outside as day becomes night and then day again. And after all that, the best he gets is "Pfah."
  • Bleach: In the many Slice of Life sketches Tite Kubo does about his characters, there's one of Byakuya doing a stand-up routine in front of a huge audience. He holds his kenseikan to his ear and pretends it's a telephone. The audience doesn't laugh. He gets an "I told you so" from Renji afterwards. On another occasion, Renji asks Byakuya which hairdresser he uses and Byakuya tells him he gets his zanpakutou to cut his hair for him. Renji is so shocked, Byakuya has to tell him he was joking. Of course, Renji's then more panicked by the idea of Byakuya telling jokes. It's a Running Gag that Byakuya's very funny when he's not trying to be but an absolute disaster when he is.
  • Tenshinhan in Dragon Ball Z encounters trouble with this trope when Kaio requires all potential students to tell him a joke. He did manage a joke. Once. It wasn't funny, though. Kaio was scared by Tenshinhan's seriousness and determination, so he thought that laughing was the best solution.
    • Similarly, Piccolo is also unable to tell a joke and refuses to make one, but Kaio takes one of his lines as a hilariously bad joke and he ends up laughing anyway.
  • Masaomi Kida from Durarara!!. Not that it stops him from trying at every chance.
  • Shar-tan in Etotama often tells jokes, but is so serious in nature that everyone takes her seriously then start getting frustrated as she keeps doing it.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Given the fact that she struggles with improvisation in general, Kaguya isn't good at coming up with jokes on the spot. Her attempt to tell one in Chapter 205 just leaves everyone except Shirogane confused (and even he took a couple seconds to understand it).
  • Shouko Komi of Komi Can't Communicate tries her hand at jokes in one chapter. Aside from the significant problem that Komi is a Shrinking Violet who uses a notebook to communicate because she can't handle spoken conversations, she also favors "Dad Jokes" that nobody else finds funny to begin with.
  • In My Hero Academia, Midoriya is too nervous and jittery to ever be able to properly deliver a joke. This actually becomes a plot point when he tries to get an internship with All Might's former sidekick, Sir Nighteye, who insists that all of his employees have a keen sense of humor. The best Midoriya can do is shape his face into a perfect pantomime of All Might's in hopes of getting a reaction.
  • In Nichijou, the principal tells old jokes that no one gets, while Yuuko's are just terrible.
  • The English dub of Sgt. Frog has Koyuki act like this in episode 18. She tells a condensed, G-rated version of The Aristocrats, apparently not knowing the point of the joke is to make it as drawn-out and vulgar as possible.
  • As a part of her No Social Skills, Saori from Wandering Son sucks at jokes.

  • The "Hedge Sketch" by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie seems to be a very basic scene at a store, but consists of them continuously getting their lines in the wrong order, or speaking the lines of the wrong character, which leads to them starting all over from the start several times. In the end, they both can't remember the final punchline.
    • There is a similar one in which Laurie keeps interrupting the whole time to turn to the camera and tell the audience that this is his favorite gag, and the next line is the payoff — no, wait, not quite yet ...
    • And another, in which Fry is trying over and over to tell a joke to his date and Laurie is a waiter who enters to interrupt every time he approaches the punchline; he eventually reveals that a concealed microphone enables him to do this.
  • Played with by Bill Bailey in some of his stand up:
    I lose commitment in a joke, I'll give you an example. Three men go into a bar, one of them is a little bit stupid and the whole scene plays out with a tedious inevitability.
  • Richard Pryor had a routine about a childhood friend who would constantly attempt to tell jokes and botch them up, but he was such a large, intimidating kid that everyone would laugh anyway.
  • Tim Vine has featured a section in his act where he asks the audience for subjects and then attempts to improvise a joke around them. These inevitably become desperate, rambling monologues, the punchline being when he gives up entirely and asks for some different subjects.

    Comic Books 
  • Colossus by his own admission in Astonishing X-Men #19, after being told of a prophecy that he is destined to destroy the Breakworld:
    "I have been planning on destroying the Breakworld ever since I was a child." (after the X-Men look at him in shock) "This is why I don't make so many jokes. I never know when is good."
  • A short Richie Rich story has Cadbury in the next room telling some very old and clichéd jokes, and in his usual stuffy British style of speaking. Gloria is puzzled when she hears laughter, but then Richie takes her into the room and shows her that the laughter is emanating from a "laugh box" that he got for Cadbury so that at least someone would find his jokes funny.
  • In the original The Smurfs comic, the Smurfette completely botches the joke she's telling. That does not prevent all the Smurfs to find it hilarious, since she's a blonde bombshell by that point.
  • Wynonna Earp: Waverly's attempts at witty banter inevitably just come out sounding weird. Such as this exchange from Season Zero:
    Haught: Let's turn our dream into their nightmare.
    Waverly: This ain't no circus, and we don't need no clowns.
    Haught: Sweetie, not being judgmental, but... What the hell is that supposed to mean?
    Waverly: It sounded so Wynonna in my head, but when it came out, it just sounded like me... I've got to get better with the kill bad people quips.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Ultra Magnus can occasionally manage to be a Deadpan Snarker but is less good at other forms of humour, even after his character development away from being the most uptight man in the universe. At one point he and Megatron both attempt banter, fail miserably and decide that there was a valuable lesson in said failure. The closest he gets to successful comedy is one act of Trolling.
    Whirl: If I'd known death was going to be like this, I wouldn't have courted it so much. Angry denials, stunned silences. Gasps of disbelief. It's like that time Magnus tried to tell a joke.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip:
      Calvin: OK, this guy goes into a bar. No wait, he doesn't do that yet. Or maybe it's a grocery store. OK, it doesn't matter. Let's say it's a bar. He's somewhere in the vicinity of a bar, right? So anyway, there's this dog, and he says something odd, I don't remember, but this other guy says, um, well, I forget, but it was funny.
    • Then there was the time he tried to tell Hobbes this hilarious story he heard at school. When Hobbes tried to get him to, you know, actually tell the story, Calvin concluded that the story wasn't all that funny in-and-of itself, but the kid telling it thought it was, and it was pretty hilarious when milk squirted out his nose when he laughed.
  • Porkypine from Pogo fundamentally doesn't get humor.
    Porkypine: This is a humorous anecdote. A goat lost his nose — the first man says, "What will he smell with now?" The other replies, "As bad as ever." Haw haw haw?

    Fan Works 

    Film - Animated 
  • Marlin in Finding Nemo struggles his way through a joke in the beginning when he's put on the spot by the other parents. He makes a better fist (fin?) of it at the end of the movie. Reportedly, Albert Brooks fell in love with the Deconstructionist aspect of Marlin - a clownfish who isn't funny - and ran with it. Word of God is that "we have about an hour of audio from Albert telling this joke really, really badly."
  • Dug from Up. Of course, it's possible his joke is hilarious to another dog.
    Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Bill, Christopher Marlowe doesn't really get comedy and spends much of the movie attempting to tell a Your Mom joke after Shakespeare introduces him to the concept. And failing.
  • Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy is constantly, err, biffing his attempts at wordplay with lines like "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here," and "That's as funny as a screen door on a battleship." Presumably everyone is too afraid of him to correct him. He is berated for this by his older self in the second movie.
  • In The Imitation Game, the hero is shown to be socially inept and can't manage to tell a joke on his own or recognise them in others.
  • The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies: The comedian in the nightclub is horrendous, especially his timing on the "my mother irons and my father steals" joke, which was really old even when this movie was made. Lampshaded when someone in the audience snickers prematurely.
  • K.C. Downing in the movie My Favorite Year. She tries to tell the protagonist Benjy that she's just not funny but he refuses to believe her. He gives her a joke and gets her to tell it back to him. He is then convinced.
  • Charlie tells a funny, fitting joke in Mystery Team... and then proceeds to tell the EXACT SAME JOKE not one minute later, in an entirely inappropriate situation.
  • Roger de Bris in The Producers.
    Roger: Messieurs Bialystock and Bloom, I presume? Ha! Forgive the pun!
    Leo: (aside to Max) What pun?
    Max: (aside to Leo) Shut up! He thinks he's witty!
  • In Rain Man, Raymond recites the Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?" to himself in moments of stress but invariably delivers it in a breathless, uninterrupted monotone. Charlie points out that it's not funny when told that way.
  • Raising Arizona: H.I's boss, Glen, is always telling Polack jokes that no one thinks are funny. He also bungles one and has to start over again. H.I. notes that it finally gets him in trouble when he tries to crack a Polack joke to a Polish highway patrolman.
  • In Say Anything..., Diane wonders if she should begin her valedictorian speech with a joke that her fellow students who are about to graduate high school should "go back." She's unconvinced by it but her father persuades her to leave it in. Sure enough, when she opens her speech with the joke, it falls completely flat.
  • Crapout in The Sidehackers tells a story about prisoners who have heard the same jokes so many times they just gave them numbers. If they want to tell a joke they just yell the number and everyone laughs. A new prisoner tries yelling a number only to get no laughs and told he just can't tell a joke. Ironically Crapout himself falls under this; he can't stop cackling to say even a full sentence of the joke, completely killing the humor.
  • Karl in Sling Blade fails terribly at telling a joke about two men on a bridge:
    There's these two fellas. They're standing on a bridge and going to the bathroom. One fella says that the water's cold. Other fella said the water's deep. I believe one fella come from Arkansas.
  • Lurkalot during his brief turn as jester in Up the Chastity Belt. He tells an extremely unfunny joke then, when it fails to garner any laughs, he kills it entirely by overexplaining it.

  • After spending the morning being processed, new prisoner Fred is taken to the huge mess hall for lunch. He finds a seat at a table full of inmates who look like they have been behind bars for years. Suddenly, an inmate stands in the middle of the room and yells, "41!" As he sits down, the room erupts in laughter. Then another prisoner stands and yells, "123!" Again, there is laughter throughout the room. Puzzled, Fred asks the inmate sitting next to him what's going on. "Well," the older inmate says, "Most of us have been here so long that we have heard all the jokes. So we just number them and use the number." Fred says, "I love to tell jokes! Give me one." "Okay," says the older inmate. "Everybody loves old 72. It always gets a big laugh" Fred stands up, waits for the laughter to die down from the last joke, and yells, "72!" There is nothing but silence as hundreds of inmates just turn and stare at him. Fred sits down and looks at the inmate who gave him the number. "What happened?" he asks. The older man shrugs and says, "Some people just can't tell a joke."
  • Lieutenant Rzhevsky attends a ball. At a certain point he notices his servant and says, "Ah, Stefan! I am pleased to find you here. Pray tell, have you any new rhymes for me?" "Ah, yes, monsieur, here's one I heard this morning: Adam and Eve, on the very last eve in the wonderful Garden of Eden..." "Wonderful, wonderful! Ladies and gentlemen, écoutez-vous! I just heard a wonderful new rhyme from my personal waiter... It went like... Y'know, Adam and Eve, like, in the Garden of Eden, and they f... I mean, it was their last night, so they fu... Oh, but it sounded so much better in verse!"
  • One particular joke uses this in a very meta sense. It starts off as a classic "Three people walk into a bar" joke, then the joke teller pretends to have forgotten or misremembered some details, with the joke getting weirder and weirder as it's told. At some point - "So, it's a nun, a dragon, and twenty four penguins, half of which are dead, in a roller disco..." - the teller gives up.
  • A joke told among comedians plays with this. The teller says "Do you know what the most important part of a joke is?" and then as the listener says "No, what?" the teller says "Timing." The joke is that the timing is wrong. Alternatively, there's "What's the difference between a good joke and a bad joke timing" or "Why can't drummers tell jokes timing".

  • Alice in Wonderland:
    • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the King of Hearts has to inform people that he's telling a joke in order to get them to laugh.
    • In Through the Looking Glass, the Gnat makes jokes, but does it so sorrowfully and somberly that Alice has to be told when he's doing it, and he even wishes that other people would make the jokes he thinks of.
  • Jake from Animorphs can snark with the best of them, but when it comes to telling outright jokes, he inevitably summons the crickets. Even Ax, at one point, gets a big laugh just by repeating a joke that Jake had told him earlier. Nobody laughed the first time.
  • Discworld:
    • Granny Weatherwax doesn't quite 'get' humour. In Witches Abroad, Granny keeps trying to tell a joke that goes "A man walks into a sandwich shop and sees a sign that says, 'We make all kinds of sandwiches'. So he says 'I'll have an alligator sandwich — and make it snappy!'" Only she keeps giving the punchline as "and make it quick!", or "and I want it right away!", or "and don't be a long time about it!"
      • Pratchett said this about it: "It is (I hope) obvious that Granny Weatherwax has absolutely no sense of humour but she has, as it were, heard about it. She has no grasp of how or why jokes work — she's one of those people who say "And then what happened?" after you've told them the punchline. She can vaguely remember the one-liner "Give me an alligator sandwich — and make it snappy!" but since she's got no idea of why it's even mildly amusing she gets confused... all that she can remember is that apparently the man wants it quickly."
      • In the same book, though, Granny does use puns that could be construed as humorous. (Unless calling an incident where someone was killed by a duck "a foul [fowl] deed" was an accident. It could have been.)
    • In a few other books, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully is described as not being very good at telling jokes, and not letting that stop him. It's mentioned that the Bursar has No Sense of Humor, but at least knows how jokes are meant to go, and Ridcully's never add up properly.
  • Sweeney Todd in Dodger:
    At some time, somebody must have told Mister Todd that a barber, in addition to tonsorial prowess, should have memorized practically a library of jokes, anecdotes and miscellaneous rib-ticklers, occasionally including - should the gentleman in the chair be of the right age or nature - ones that might include some daring remarks about young ladies. However, that had given him this advice had simply not calculated on Sweeney's terrible lack of anything that could be called bonhomie, cheerfulness, ribaldry or even a simple sense of humour.
  • In Fifty Feet of Trouble, the blob monster Gelatin Keyes knows lots of jokes and delivers them with the proper energy. The problem is that he never matches the setup to the right punchline.
  • Dan Greenberg's book How to Be a Jewish Mother contains instructions about telling jokes. One of them is always start with the punchline.
  • The 1929 book Jokes Cracked By Lord Aberdeen attained a cult following (and original copies became much sought-after) in the 2000s due to its reputation for this. It's likely that his Lordship could tell a joke, in person... but when written down they become So Unfunny, It's Funny.
  • Evie jokes about being this in Paranormalcy.
  • Inverted by Baron Arald in the Ranger's Apprentice series. He keeps telling jokes, and pretty good ones at that, but everyone takes him too seriously all the time to enjoy them.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Oliver Horn is by nature an imitator and adapter of other people's material, so while he can reenact sketch comedy and humorous parlor tricks flawlessly, he lacks the sense of comedic timing needed to make the jokes land.
  • The eponymous character of the Sebastian Darke series has this problem, which is unfortunate, because he works as a Court Jester.
  • Mark Twain wrote an essay about humor that explained how to do this.
  • Unsong: Archangel Uriel doesn't get the human concept of humour. His first attempt at making a joke is to just say "knock knock" before a random sentence. After Sohu tries to get him to understand by comparing jokes to Kabbalistic correspondences, he comes up with the following joke:
    A: Knock Knock.
    B: Who's there?
    A: "Nachash" is the Hebrew word for Serpent, but it has a Gematria value of 358, which is the same as the Hebrew word "Moshiach", meaning Messiah. Thus, although the Serpent introduces sin into the world and and the Messiah redeems the world from sin, both are Kabbalistically identical.
  • Talmanes from The Wheel of Time makes some spectacularly bad attempts at humor. Mostly they fail because he's so straight-faced that his attempts at deadpan snarkery fall flat. He does manage to be amusing in a meta way, though. Though some of his quips are fairly funny, albeit rather darkly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun involves Dick becoming jealous that Mary finds another member of the faculty hilarious and wants the colleague to introduce her at a work function because of this. Dick embarks on a quest to better understand Earth humour so she'll let him do it instead. This includes a stint at an open mic night where his obtuse attempts at jokes bomb horribly. After getting some tips from a real comedian, Dick discovers he actually understands insult humour and employs this in his introduction speech. But in true Dick fashion he majorly overdoes it and humiliates both Mary and Nina in front of the whole department. They later get back at him in a fitting slapstick fashion using a whole table of banana cream pies.
  • Reed from Adam-12. He spends a good portion of the finale of Season 1 trying to tell Malloy a joke about ... a dog... and paint... or something, suffering constant interruptions from calls (not his fault) and his own disjointed retelling (totally his fault), and then he's crushed when Malloy doesn't laugh.
  • Armando from The Armando Iannucci Shows is this; when he is asked to do a speech to a group of corporate executives on the grounds that, as the writer of I'm Alan Partridge, he must be funny. Armando's speech consists of PowerPoint explanations of various jokes, including "My Dog's Got No Nose".
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Hesitation Ramification", Sheldon attempts to develop a unified theory of comedy to make anyone laugh at any time. Pretty much every attempt he makes to tell a joke falls into this category.
  • Brennan from Bones as part of her general social incompetence.
  • Both Borat and Ali G from Da Ali G Show have this trait. On the TV show, Borat once went on some sort of dating service and when told women like a man with a sense of humor he proceeded to tell the "joke" "There is a chair... and it has shoes... and it is walking!" In another episode, Ali G told Buzz Aldrin some sort of corny moon-based joke. He told it correctly, and when Aldrin politely laughed, Ali G was like "I don't get it".
  • The Italian Comedic Sociopathy Sadist Show series Caméra Café has a sketch named "La barzelletta di Silvano" ("Silvano's joke") that is based on this trope. It basically involves Silvano, a nerdy Butt-Monkey, while he tries to replace an old (and supposedly overused before the sketch) joke involving a bald man to another one related to the math he usually has to deal with. The problem is, other than the new joke being a Replacement Scrappy of the previous joke, that, for one reason or another, he never gets to tell it. When a coworker of his finally manages to get him to return to the previous joke, Andrea the (bald) bodyguard comes in. And, as always, given how violent, sadistic and bossy Andrea is, the sketch ends exactly with what happens every time Andrea appears in any sketch.
  • Cliff Clavin of Cheers attempts stand-up at one of those amateur hour comedy clubs, and his entire schtick is endless variations of "...what's up with that?" Yeah, he bombs.
  • Ferguson from the Nickelodeon sitcom Clarissa Explains It All was generally a straight-laced, snobby know it all. Later in the series, he spent an entire episode practicing the delivery of a cliche joke (A homeless man walks up to me on the street and says he hasn't had a bite in...) for some event that he was participating in. The humor came not from the joke itself, but from the ludicrous attempts at telling it, which eventually started including ridiculous stresses on random words of the punchline, a la "I bit him. I bit him. I bit him."
  • Mike from Community episode Comparative Religion:
    Mike: "Oh, you're funny. You're a funny man. Wanna hear somethin' funny, funny man? Knock-knock — My fist up your balls!"
    Jeff: "... Who's there?"
  • Corner Gas:
    • In "Mosquito Time", Hank says that the human brain can only hold so much information, and we are treated to a Ghost in the Machine Cutaway Gag showing two Hanks in a white void organizing cardboard boxes full of information. One tells the other to put a box of knock-knock jokes next to the Bananarama lyrics. Real!Hank then tries to tell Lacey a knock-knock joke, but when she says, "Who's there?", he says, "Bananarama". Back in Hank's brain, the stack of boxes has fallen over and all their contents have mixed together, while one of the Hanks chews out the other for his screw-up.
    • In "Hurry Hard", Lacey's absolutely terrible curling jokes are a Running Gag.
      Lacey: You guys don't like jokes either?
      Hank: Oh, we like jokes.
      Brent: We're all for jokes.
      Wanda: Did someone tell a joke?
    • "Outside Joke" featured Davis and his utter incompetence at pulling Practical Jokes, infuriating Karen who tries to teach him how to do it properly. Further angering her is the fact that the townsfolk actually seem to find his lame attempts funny, and on top of that, they also give him all the credit for her practical jokes. This eventually turned out to be a practical joke Davis was playing on Karen that he got the whole town in on.
  • Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds tells hilarious jokes ... if you're a genius speed-reading polymath with an eidetic memory. Otherwise, not so much.
  • Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza: "What is the difference between a rabbi and an Irishman window? One is a pane of glass, and the other's a Jew. ...Think about it."
  • Simon from Firefly is seemingly bad at telling funny stories about working at Hospitals.
    • Then again, when he's going up against the possibility of Inara telling some funny whoring stories the poor guy hasn't got much of a chance.
    • His story about making surgeon in "Objects In Space" is much better.
  • Jeffrey from Hi-de-Hi! is completely hopeless in front of a microphone. This is, in itself, utterly hilarious.
  • I Love Lucy: Lucy Ricardo was apparently unable to tell a joke. In one episode, she tried to tell about the lady who went to a butcher and asked for pork chops "and don't leave too much fat on them." The butcher replied, "Yes, ma'am. Which way?" Fred Mertz had heard the joke before and explained that the lady was supposed to say, "Be sure you make them lean." Lucy thought this was only a minor detail, when it was in fact the point of the joke. A mental health crisis followed when she felt isolated and rejected by the others.
  • The InBESTigators: Maudie awkwardly attempts to insert jokes while Ezra is recapping "The Case of the Robot Robbery."
  • The attempts of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Dee Reynolds to get her standup career off the ground inevitably fall into this. Most of the time, she starts retching out of stage fright halfway through her first joke. When she can get one in, it's inevitably rambling observational humor or references to her vagina, delivered either in a halfhearted drawl or while stammering profusely. Yet somehow, it's still better than her non-standup "character work."
  • Joker's Wild was a panel game from ITV, in which six comedians were each given a subject by the chairman (Barry Cryer). They had to tell a joke on this subject, and a member of the opposing team could interrupt if they thought they knew it. When Eric Sykes was on one of the teams, he played this trope for all it was worth (including, at one point, having team captain Alfred Marks go over to him and talk him through a joke).
    Eric: Animals. Yes. There was this fella, and he was very, his wife was dying, that was it...she was Scottish, so Scott—no, she wasn't dying, she was pretty fit, you know... but she thought one day she might die, so she said to her husband, she said, um...
    Barry: Interruption by his own captain.
    Alfred: Can I retire? What with him, and now Eric...
    Barry: No, no, Eric's still talking. Happy retirement.
    Eric: Right—so he looked up, and he said "Don't jump"! ...No, no, you've put me right off, listen, seriously, this is a real joke, I've been working on this for a week, and...
    (audience laughter as Ray Martino takes his belt off and pretends to hang himself)
    Eric: And, he...
    Barry: I'll give you five points now, Eric, we can return to this in the second half.
  • Aruto Hiden of Kamen Rider Zero-One aspires to be a comedian but because his routine is all about half-baked puns and excessive overreacting even by Japanese standards, no one laughs at them, save for Isamu Fuwa.
  • Andy Kaufman in his Little Foreign Man character would do a stand-up routine with deliberately incomprehensible, unfunny 'jokes'.
  • On at least one occasion, KITT of Knight Rider tried to entertain Michael with pre-programmed jokes. He ended up completely messing them up, which wasn't too surprising ... but as it ended up, it was his badly-told jokes that saved Michael's life.
  • One episode of Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge featured the truly awful ventriloquist act of Joe Beazley and Cheeky Monkey. Even Alan realised how terrible they were.
  • In the first episode of Life's Too Short, Liam Neeson's attempts at improv comedy always end being about contracting AIDs from an African prostitute.
  • In Little Lunch, Atticus thinks he is an excellent joke-teller, and continually attempts to tell his father's golfing jokes, which he doesn't understand. In "The Joke Competition", Melanie's attempts to tell a joke initially fall apart fall apart because of her shyness. When she does manage to tell a successfully tell a Toilet Humor joke, things go horribly right.
  • The entire premise of Luann Lockhart on MADtv (1995), the amateur stand-up comedian who has no idea how to tell a joke.
    Luann: any of you like the holidays?
    (People applaud)
    Luann: Uh, yeah, me neither. I'M ONLY FOOLING!
  • Monk tries a few times, as a part of trying to become more social. For example, upon learning a joke is basically a lie, he calls a dog a cat and then laughs nervously.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus - as the funniest joke in the world proves an effective crippling weapon for the British in WWII, the Nazis try it themselves: An English couple listening to the radio hear a thick Germanic voice saying "Dere vere zwei peanuts valking down ze strasse, und vun vas assaulted. ...peanut." 'Deutschland Uber Alles' then plays triumphantly as the couple exchange puzzled looks.
  • Nancy Weeks, the delightfully awful "Head of Continuing Drama" in Moving Wallpaper is alleged to be thus. in S 2 E 5, the writers are discussing whether or not to put a joke in her speech. Pope, the producer, recommends against this, saying "the woman's got the comic timing of (something)".
  • Paul from MTV Live.
  • In The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, George Washington on Mount Rushmore is depicted like this.
  • Gypsy from Mystery Science Theater 3000, to judge from the few times she was allowed to comment on a movie.
    • Joel and the bots do a group impression of Rip Taylor with a string of increasingly lame, desperate prop jokes. IT'S FUNNYYY!
  • Dick Loudon demonstrates this on at least one Newhart episode.
  • If she hadn't been substituted after one season, this would probably have been a bigger part of Kate in Not Going Out. She only attempted to actually tell a joke once, and it did indeed go horribly, but Lee asked her at one point if she ever gets jokes. They just seems to be something she struggles with in general.
  • Zag in Zig and Zag's Nothing to do With Toast Video frequently tries to tell an elephant joke, which is invariably ruined by his inability to pronounce the word elephant.
  • The Office: Michael Scott epitomizes this trope. Examples:
    • When Michael falls for Jim's "It smells like Updog in here" joke (punchline: "What's Updog?" "I don't know, what's up with you?"), he's so enamored with the joke that he attempts to retell it to everyone, but fails repeatedly. When he finally does properly trick someone into saying "What's Updog?" he botches the follow-up. "I'm fine, how are you?"
    • After Michael is the face-slapping butt of Dwight's KGB knock-knock joke, he argues with Dwight about answering Jim's "door". Of course, more face-slapping ensues. That's because the KGB waits for no one.
    • "Are you serious?" "Yes. And don't call me Shirley."
    • His original counterpart in the British version, David Brent, was also like this, due to a similar over-reliance on second hand humor from old comedy shows and a general lack of wit.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Boynton is rarely if ever able to tell a joke in a way that would be funny. The humor comes from the lameness of his attempt, and Miss Brooks' response - although, Miss Brooks once mentions she loves his terrible sense of humour.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Better than Life", the newly-titled "Admiral" Rimmer is attempting to tell an anecdote, but can't remember exactly what happened. It was so bad that even the fictional officers from his ideal dream went through a couple of seconds of embarrassed, uncertain silence before bursting into sycophantic laughter.
  • JD from Scrubs is like this. When attempting to tell a joke about why a man who thinks he's a moth went to the dentist's (the light was on) he ends up improvising a whole pointless conversation between the man and the dentist to stall for time while he tries to remember the punch line.
    • And later in the episode, he gives the person he was telling the joke to a written copy of it... which covers three pages on both sides.
    • Carla also falls into this. Dr. Cox calls her out on it when he points out why everybody else in the hospital is funny, including calling Ted the "hospital sad sack". Dr. Cox notes that she can be funny when she's being sarcastic or arrogant, but her jokes are never funny.
  • A Running Gag in Shooting Stars, where Vic's Once an Episode attempt to tell a Dove From Above-related joke results in silence, whistling wind, and tumbleweeds. Unless another character reads the same joke for him, in which case it of course becomes enormously amusing.
  • Dana, the producer on Sports Night, is said to be bad at jokes.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • In "Seth", Teal'c attempts to tell a joke about the helmets worn by a particular Goa'uld's Praetorian Guard, and fails miserably. In his defense, it's a translated Jaffa joke and presumably whatever was funny about it got Lost in Translation. It goes: "Three Jaffa meet on a neutral planet: a Horus guard [worshipper of the hawk-headed Egyptian god Horus], a Serpent guard [worshipper of Apophis] and a Setesh guard [worshipper of a doglike god, long-lost and considered sort of like mythical bumpkins by the others]. It is a tense moment. The Horus guard's beak glistens. The Serpent guard's eyes glow. The Setesh guard's... nose drips!" And Teal'c bursts out laughing.
    • Another SG-1 example occurs in "Citizen Joe" in which Joe Spencer seems incapable of telling a simple joke.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of Data's many attempts to become more human involves him trying to understand the nature of humor. He enlists the help of a holodeck comedian program, and memorizes all the jokes...then proceeds to completely botch the delivery of every one. It's hilarious to watch. In one of the last episodes ("Journey's End"), he actually pulled a joke off perfectly, then explained that it wasn't a serious statement, killing the joke. Even when he installs Lore's emotion chip in Star Trek: Generations and gains the emotions needed to laugh at jokes, he still isn't very good at telling them (although it's entirely possible Geordi was just tired of him trying to do it for the entire scene in question).
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Once Upon a Mattress", the notoriously taciturn Jack Morrison attempts to cheer up Fiscus, who is recuperating after being shot, by telling him a joke. This well-intentioned effort fails miserably as Jack changes the names of the characters in the joke several times and forgets several parts of it.
  • Harriet Hayes (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) is depicted as incapable of either remembering the text, structure or delivery of a joke. She's a professional comedian...
  • An episode of Supernatural has an example with Castiel referencing a text as a joke "you breed with the mouth of a goat". This spawned the in-fandom meme "It's funnier in Enochian."
    • Uriel is apparently the funniest angel in the garrison. Ask anyone.
  • The King from The Muppets special Tales from Muppetland: The Frog Prince.
    Why's a king's wand called a scepter? 'Cuz everyone in the kingdom works and he doesn't!
  • Nicola Murray in The Thick of It has the unfortunate combination of a desperate urge to not seem glum or smug and the comedic timing of a deathwatch beetle. In the first series, Olly is the one who takes on this role, as he constantly attempts to prolong jokes and, as is usually the case in real life, ends up killing them stone dead. By the time the specials role around he's even lampshading it:
    Throw a blanket over me, I'm on fire!
  • Tulio from 31 Minutos.
  • Once an Episode on The Two Ronnies, Ronnie Corbett would sit in a chair and explain that he was now going to tell a simple joke. He would often deviate from the subject this early by something like explaining that the editor wasn't happy with how it had gone last week and had... etcetera. This inability to stick to the point that tended to result in a three-line joke taking five minutes was the actual joke.
  • Henry from Unnatural History.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, Max is the reigning king of hilariously-inappropriate comedy timing.

  • Prince portrays Bruce Wayne as this on the Batman soundtrack.
    The phone rings, it's Vicki callin'/She's askin' me to come to the crib
    See, conversation is better than bein' lonely/So I do my best to ad-lib
    I tell a joke, about a woman/Who asked her lover, "Why's your organ so small?"
    He replied: "I didn't know I was playin' a cathedral!"
    And Vicki didn't laugh at all...

    New Media 

  • Find Us Alive has Harley, who can be funny unintentionally, but never on purpose. All his "jokes" peter out as he seems to realize how dumb he sounds before he finishes speaking. For just a few examples:
    • Episode 00:
      Overwatch Command? More like Overwatch... DUMBmand...! HEH. ...fuck...
    • Episode 06:
      Communications Department? More like... fire... department...
    • Episode 10:
      Lancaster: Hey! Hey. I’m late. I'm so sorry.
      Harley: After my job, I see.
      Lancaster: What?
      Harley: Of... being late- nevermind.
    • Episode 15:
      Harley: Well, aren't you just the perfect Foundation employee then?
      Raddagher: (no response)
      Harley: Because- you don't trust anybody, and you're… paranoi- nevermind.

  • Cabin Pressure: Martin Krief cannot tell a joke. At one point, to try and impress an actress he's crushing on (did we mention, Martin cannot talk to women?), he forgets any joke he's ever heard, save one which is pretty racist... and he still forgets the punchline anyway.
  • 'Wayne from St. Albans' on The D Generation breakfast show.
    • And the accountant on their album The Satanic Sketches
      "...the first two provided sensible answers, while the Irishman responded in a foolish manner."
  • Ed from Get This could tell jokes, but many of his own sketches were ruined by his own lack of organisation and planning, and turned out being funnier in 'ruined' form than if they had gone according to plan.
  • Denis King suffered from this on Hello Cheeky. It wasn't so much that he forgot the jokes as it was that his smarmy delivery impacted the humor, and the fact that he'd usually make some sort of happily self-satisfied comment afterwards didn't help.
    Denis: ...Ah well, you can't win them all. Just one, that's all I want! One!
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Boynton is rarely if ever able to tell a joke in a way that would be funny. The humor comes from the lameness of his attempt, and Miss Brooks' response - although, Miss Brooks once mentions she loves his terrible sense of humour.
  • In the Henry James episode of the Radio 4 literature quiz The Write Stuff, the Author of the Week pastiches at the end were to tell a famous joke in the style of one of James's novels. Inevitably, they were all like this.
    That he was a married gentleman was clear, that his wife was nowhere to be seen was no less undeniable, so I ventured to enquire of him where she might at that very moment be found. He vouchsafed the information that she had gone travelling to the West Indies.

    "Indeed," I replied, "To the isle of Jamaica, perchance?"

    The gentleman sighed, and murmured a response so softly that I could barely hear it. But I seemed to get the impression that, wherever she had gone in the West Indies, she had done so voluntarily.

    "That may be so," I said, "But do you know if Jamaica was on her itinerary?"

    He gave me to understand that he was ignorant on this point, and shortly afterwards our conversation came to an end.

  • German political satirist (among everything else) from the 20s, Kurt Tucholsky, wrote the sketch "A married couple tells a joke". It naturally ends in a divorce, German Humor and such.

    Video Games 
  • Varric struggles to teach Cole how to tell jokes in Dragon Age: Inquisition. By the last bit of party banter between them, Cole's gotten a little better about it, but not much. The resigned disappointment in Varric's voice indicates he's all but given up on the idea.
  • Dragon Quest IV: Ragnar is revealed to be the worst of the team at telling jokes when trying to get the Zenithian Helm from the king of Canalot.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Edelgard's sense of humor is horrible because she fails to make any joke sound funny with the way she says it. People often mistake she's serious about everything she says, often making her look confused as to why no one saw the humor. This also extends to how often she likes to mention the idea of her Empire going up against the other factions in a real battle to the death, which makes both Dimitri and Claude think she's doing a bad joke in poor taste that she rarely ever feels apologetic about. Except she was totally advocating to make that happen, plunging all of Fodlan into chaos for years.
  • League of Legends has Poppy, Keeper of the Hammer, an unbelievably strong, yet humble yordle who's also a bit of a klutz. She has a chipper sense of humor, but she fails really badly at telling jokes — her joke emote requires the player to hit the button far more times than with every other playable character, resulting in longwinded jokes with a flubbed punchline.
    Poppy: A Noxian, a Targonian and a Piltie are robbing a bank. The bank guy says, "I'll give you whatever you want!" The Noxian says, "I'll take whatever gold you got back there," the Targonian says, "Gimme' all your gemstones!", and the Piltie says, "Can I own this ba"— uh, "I own this bank, so"... (exasperated) He doesn't want anything because he owns the bank...
  • In Mass Effect 2, Joker is forced to give EDI full control over the Normandy. While he is doing so, he complains about the possibility that he might be starting a trend that will lead to a Matrix-like world, with organic life existing as batteries for the A.I.s. EDI comments that she enjoys the sight of humans on their knees, followed by a short pause and her saying "That was a joke." Joker's expression right after, of course, is absolutely priceless. However, it's less her being unable to tell a joke and more lousy timing: to anyone not trapped on a ship with homicidal aliens and a questionably sane AI (ie the player) it's hilarious, even without the followup.
    • She continues to make similar jokes in the third game, until Shepard eventually asks her to stop. She muses that her timing sub-routine needs to be adjusted. Being built from Reaper technology, it makes sense that none of her construction involved any sort of understanding of humor.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • In contrast to EDI having a wicked but badly-timed sense of humor, Ryder's AI SAM is simply unoriginal. When asked to tell a joke, SAM will only make slight variations on well-known groaners, including knock-knock jokes. The one time SAM manages to get a chuckle out of Ryder (by "calculating the trajectory of the punchline"), it quickly clarifies that it was by accident.
    • Jaal has this opinion of his teammate Liam Costa's attempt at humour. He chuckles, and then adds "we [meaning the angara] have people who aren't funny, too."

    Visual Novels 
  • Apollo Justice from the Ace Attorney series often falls victim of this, albeit not for the reasons stated in the introduction blurb. The reason, at least according to Trucy and Ema, is because it's impossible to tell if Apollo is being serious or not. As such, people either take his jokes as blunt, tactless commentaries or takes his commentaries as rude, ill-timed jokes.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia established in a flashback that Kazuki, Yuuji's dead sister, could not tell a funny joke to save her life. Building on that in The Eden of Grisaia, we see more flashbacks with her and another attempt to tell a joke during the afterstory when she's not only been discovered to be alive but also not just a computer (long story) and she still can't tell a joke. The entire time the main story was going on, she pretended to have an artificial arm that everyone was too polite to ask about and the she just pops it off like a glove in front of a side character because she'd figured it would be hilarious. Okay, the audience might find that hilarious, but there's nobody in the story who would actually laugh at that barring maybe Yuuji.
  • Sasuke from Ikemen Sengoku loves cracking jokes with the main character. However, since he says everything with the same deadpan tone and emotionless facial expression, the main character has trouble figuring out when he's trying to be funny — and even when she does figure it out, her ensuing laughter is often over how bad and/or random his jokes are.
  • Natalya from Missing Stars loves telling jokes and saying puns. The problem is either her jokes suck or she tells unoriginal ones.

    Web Original 
  •'s "Things Nobody Can Teach You About Being Funny", the first entry is "How to be funny (if you aren't)". Essentially saying that some people just aren't funny and there's not much anyone can do about it.
  • Near in Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) as demonstrated when prank calling Light:
    Light: (*sighs*) Do yourself a favor. Hang up. Now.
    Near: Okay. (*hangs up*) Hey guys, wasn't that hilarious?
  • DSBT InsaniT: Martha can't tell one, at least not in terms of insult comedy, as seen in 'VRcade'.
  • In Homestuck, Spades Slick attempts a hard boiled one-liner:
    SS: Hate to chop off all of your heads with this sword. Real sorry about that. My bad.
    • We don't see it onscreen, but Orphaner Dualscar actually died because of his lack of a sense of humour; he had to tell a funny joke to the Grand Highblood to have his life spared, and failed.
  • Mortimer and, to a lesser extent, Steve from Mortimers Vlog.
  • One of the The Nostalgia Critic's minor running gags is starting off a bad joke, failing, desperately trying to keep it afloat before suddenly switching to an expressionless face and pulling an offscreen lever, at which point the words "JOKE ABORTED" appear on the screen.
  • This skeleton tries to tell a basic joke ("What is a skeleton's favorite snack? Spare ribs!") but gets caught up in making the other guy guess, increasingly furious that he can't get it right and laughs before the joke's done. By the end the skeleton's screaming and headbutting things out of fury while the listener's just floored with laughter.
  • Critical Role: Campaign Two: Essek is an introverted academic whose jokes usually involve telling Blatant Lies with complete seriousness. He often has to tell his friends when he was being facetious — when he jokes that he doesn't care for his favorite food, they check if he's an impostor.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in the 2 Stupid Dogs episode "Fun!". Little Dog gets through a joke ("Why did the orange stop? Because it ran out of juice.") twice in a row. On the third time, he forgets the joke, then immediately ad-libs a new one: "What's black and white and orange all over? A skunk eating pumpkin pie!"
  • American Dad!: In "Phantom of the Telethon", Stan ruins the delivery of a Goldilocks-referencing joke meant to introduce a performing bear act by extending the wrong word ("right" instead of "just").
    Stan: Some acts are too hot. Some acts are too cold. This act is just riiiiiiight.
    Barry: Joke killer. He's a joke killer.
  • One time, okay see, one time there was a character in Animaniacs who was a small boy who told stories that had happened to his friend Randy Beaman and the stories were always told in a near-monotone and in one long run-on sentence and at the end he'd recite the punchline in the same way and you wouldn't be sure if he'd reached it or not. Okay, bye.
  • Arthur:
    • The opening to "Arthur the Unfunny" depicts Arthur as a stand-up comedian. He tries to tell a joke, but messes up telling it and walks away in disappointment after he accidentally gives away the punchline. The conflict of the episode is that Arthur isn't very good at telling jokes even though he and his friends are preparing to do a clown act, but he finds a different way to be funny by playing the piano in a silly manner.
    • In "Slink's Special Talent", Slink tries telling jokes as his talent. He gets the joke mixed up for a few minutes, then gives up when everyone else starts to get bored.
  • Quite a few characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko, as evidenced by his attempt to tell his Uncle Iroh's tea joke.
      "I can't remember how it starts, but the punchline is, "Leaf me alone! I'm bushed!"
    • Katara, who attempted to fill her brother Sokka's role as Plucky Comic Relief when he left the group to train as a swordsman for a few days.
      "It's so hot, Momo is shedding like Appa!"
      "If you miss Sokka so much, why don't you marry him?"
    • Suki too...
      Suki: (after Ozai's defeat) How about King of the Guys who don't win? (Said person blanched at that)
  • The Batman: Donnie, the who becomes the Joker's sidekick Prank in "The Apprentice", suffers from this, and manages to empty an entire comedy club with his lame material. The Joker seems to like his stuff, however.
    So the mathematician says "X equals P.U.!"
  • Seen in Beavis And Butthead sometimes, usually from Butthead bunging up a joke. There's some joke that goes "What's the definition of a perfect woman? Three feet tall, with a flat head to hold the beer". Of course when Butthead attempts to tell this, his punchline is "Uh... I dunno, but she'd be pretty hot!". Another time he did successfully tell the "Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can!" joke, to which Beavis replies "Um... what's so special about that? Anyone can lick a dog's balls!"
  • Happens to T-Bone in Clifford the Big Red Dog.
  • Numbuh 2 of Codename: Kids Next Door always is making puns and telling jokes which draw nothing but groans from his fellow agents. In "Operation: P.O.O.L.", the agents meet their negative universe counterparts which exhibit the opposite traits of the normal agents; Negative Numbuh 2 is a good comedian who always makes people laugh, leaving positive Numbuh 2 unable to figure out what he said.
    Negative Numbuh 2: (of Negative Numbuh 4) Check it out, a coward with a goatee! Either there's a farm around here or you stink!
    (everyone laughs)
    Numbuh 2: (perplexed) That's not funny. That's not funny at all.
  • Would-be comedian Iggy Catalpa in an episode of Duckman.
  • In Family Guy, Stewie Griffin seems to have this issue.
    Stweie: Oh, I've got a good one. Two guys are at the pearly gates and... uhm, well, I don't remember how it goes, but the punchline is that they turn out to be Seigfried and Roy.
  • Futurama:
    • Zapp Brannigan. He breaks out a sexist joke to Kiff when Kiff's being followed by Amy's pet buggalo.
      Zapp: Kiff, who's your girlfriend?
      Kiff: She won't leave me alone.
      Zapp: Did I say girlfriend? I meant wife!
      Tumbleweed rolls by.
    • Also Humorbot: "And I said 'Supercollider? I hardly know her.' Then they built the Supercollider. Thank you."
  • Gasp!: In "Funny Fish", Gasp works on the same joke, telling it over and over in numerous ways, until the pets have to laugh just to get him to stop.
  • Dragon from Jane and the Dragon. It may just be that he doesn't 'get' human humour but his jokes generally leave humans scratching their heads.
    Jester (telling a joke Dragon has written for him): "...That isn't a cow. That's just my cave chicken."
    Jane: "How is that even a joke?"
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy. Not only are his jokes incredibly lame, he also laughs very hard while telling them and half the time he's laughing too hard to finish talking.
  • Lolly Poopdeck from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. In "Day Without Laughter", he attempts to become a comedian, but the punchlines to all his jokes consist of really strained puns based on his own name.
  • Kowalski from The Penguins of Madagascar.
    Private: There's two of you! That's a great trick!
    Kowalski: Private, can you recall a time when I have ever played a trick or even told a joke?
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode “My Three Suns”, Face 9000 takes up comedy, but fails due to not being funny.
  • The Simpsons:
    • A variation; Homer fails at humorous limericks. He tries to disprove this by saying "There once was this guy from an island off the coast of Massachusetts... Nantucket, I think it was. Anyway, he had the most unusual personal characteristic, which was, um..." At this point he can't remember the rest, and Lenny and Carl just snicker at him. (There is a Running Gag throughout the series of Homer never being able to finish the "man from Nantucket" limerick, which is extremely vulgar.)
    • Also Prinicpal Skinner. In "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'", it takes him less than 30 seconds to screw up the Who's on First? routine he is doing with Superindentent Chalmers by explaining that he doesn't mean the pronoun 'who' but rather that there is a player with the unlikely surname of 'Who' playing first base.
    • After being appointed interim principal of Springfield Elementary in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badass Song", Ned Flanders stated his policy to put the 'pal' back in 'principal', which everyone finds hilarious. Straight away, Chalmers adds that he'll put the 'super' back in 'superintendent', to which the room responds with silence.
      Ned: (continuing, on his lunch policy) Let me just say I want to put the "stew" back in "students". (everyone laughs)
      Chalmers: It's just a damn popularity contest with you kids! (walks offstage in a huff)
  • South Park: In "Weight Gain 4000", Mr. Garrison gets a flashback to him at the National Talents Finals when he was a kid and he told the overused "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" knock-knock joke. This leads to a mostly silent crowd with one person clapping in a slow manner. It does earn him a surprisingly good score from the judges though.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Squirrel Jokes", SpongeBob performs on stage, but is so unfunny that he only hears a cricket chirping. His jokes don't make any sense and are about mundane topics like salt and forks. It eventually gets so bad that the cricket quits.
  • Betty Staines in Staines Down Drains. Stand-up was probably a poor career choice for her...
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gives us Fluttershy. The Season 3 finale shows how her stand-up skills just aren't there.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Beast Boy is often telling jokes that make everyone else groan, especially Raven.
  • Teen Titans Go!: Here in the followup series, Robin takes the unfunny ball in the episode "Uncle Jokes".
  • Chase from Transformers: Rescue Bots tries and fails so much at any kind of joke or prank.
  • Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum: Yadina has a habit of making terrible puns that no one understands or finds funny.

    Real Life 
  • There have been a number of examples of guests like this over the long history of Have I Got News for You, but special mention has to go to trade-unionist Derek Hatton, whose joke about a ministerial lovechild bombed, and most of all Piers Morgan, who attempts to copy a joke from a previous week, tells it badly, and then attempts to bully the audience into laughing at it. It fails miserably, and best of all, Ian Hislop manages to tell the joke later, to much laughter. (Of course, when Hislop told it the audience were laughing purely to make Morgan's failure more personal.) Hatton also told the Ikea cabinet joke ("The Cabinet is like an Ikea cabinet; a couple of loose screws and it falls to pieces") to utter disdain. When Cherie Blair told the same joke in a speech, HIGNFY replayed the clip, and to everyone's surprise, it got a rather more positive reaction. (Paul's reaction was something like "It's a matter of timing. Fifteen years later, it's funny.") It's also possible they were laughing at how cheap the set looked, and Ian Hislop with hair, rather than the joke.
  • Often children who have just read joke books decide to make their own jokes. Results vary.
    • Bad Kid's Jokes collects examples submitted by kids to a joke website. Most of them are either purely nonsensical, or else the kids missed the concept of telling jokes altogether. Definitely a case of So Unfunny It's Hilarious. Typical examples include missing the punch lines of real jokes:
      what do you call a deer with no eyes
      EYE dunno
    • And nonsense bordering on the surreal:
      How do you make a potato?
      you make it inside your brain
    • And of course, attempts at Toilet Humor:
      What is the secret ingrediant of a toilet?
  • Some autistic people are likely to find it hard to tell jokes in such a way that they are funny (or supposed to be) due to limited, if not absent, social skills.


Video Example(s):


Chilly Reception

Slowking has access to the unique move Chilly Reception, where it tells a joke that gets such a cold reception that it summons a snowstorm and gets switched out.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / CannotTellAJoke

Media sources: