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Caption Humor

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The use of captions in visual media in order to invoke a humorous effect. Specifically, the caption uses the scene as a joke setup and delivers a punchline to it. This includes commenting the scene, pointing out the obvious or even absolute non sequiturs.

Sister Trope to Fun with Subtitles.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Black Panther: After an arc featuring Mephisto as an antagonist concluded, the following issue had multiple Clues From Ed passive-aggressively explaining that Mephisto is, in fact, The Devil, due apparently to several readers wanting clarification as to who Mephisto was (despite how Everett K. Ross's narration over the previous issues stated as much several times).
  • Spider-Man: 101 Ways to End the Clone Saga had one instance where the inevitable Clue from Ed. regarding the acronym for S.H.I.E.L.D. failed to remember what it stood for, resulting in the explanation arriving much later in the story as a Brick Joke.
  • Used in recent X-Men comics, providing a brief, usually humorous bio of any character who shows up, including these two, which popped up during a Fastball Special.
    Colossus: Bio-organic steel. Fastball tops out at 220 miles per hour.
    Wolverine: Claws and healing factor. Currently moving at 220 miles per hour.
  • PS238 does it here, as Zodon berates someone for trying to put a tracking device on his Super Wheelchair:
    Zodon: ...and I'm sure my roommate found them delicious!
    Caption: That would be Bernard, and he did.

    Films — Live Action 

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is designed to look like a photocopied version of Harry Potter's original. He, Ron, and Hermione have scrawled numerous notes in the margins, from commenting that Hagrid will be getting a certain dangerous creature any day now to the arachnophobic Ron increasing the danger level for acromantulas significantly to continuity nods (for example, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape claims the kappa is found in Mongolia; one of Harry's notes has the sentence stating that the kappa is Japanese underlined and a scrawled "Snape hasn't read this").

    Live Action TV 
  • The "Spanish Inqusition" sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus has the caption "DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER" followed with "DIABOLICAL ACTING".
    • And the "Architects" sketch, in which the caption "SATIRE" starts flashing over a very obvious piece of satire.
    • Professor Rosewall points out the penguins scored better on I.Q. tests than BBC programme planners and notes the planners' high total was within a margin of error, saying "One particularly dim programme planner can cock the whole thing up." Following is a caption that says "You can say that again!"
    • Philip Jenkinson's (Eric Idle) constant sniffing while reviewing Sam Peckinpah's films irks the captioner ("Get on with it," "Will you stop sniffing") to the point where he guns Philip down on the set.
  • There was a very similar thing in the opening of The Day Today: Chris Morris would read out an ostensible headline and then a piece of genuine news footage would play to humorous effect.
  • Hey Hey It's Saturday would have amusing sarcastic captions show up every now and again. Caricatures of the guests would serve the same purpose. Note: these were all done live.
  • Burn Notice initially used captions to identify people that Michael was dealing with, but they have started to become more comical, such as repeating an earlier assessment of a character, identifying them as "Arrogant Jerk" or something similar.
  • Much of the humor of "The Word" segments on The Colbert Report arises from the captions at the side of the screen, clarifying or elaborating upon what Stephen says aloud. Sometimes the captions take a life of their own. When Colbert started bashing on Islam in one episode, the captions tried to leave, but Colbert forced them to stay.
  • The Revolution Will Be Televised has a recurring segment called "Honest Subtitles", in which various politicians have their speeches replayed, only stripped of their flowery speech to reflect their (possible) true meaning.



    Web Original 
  • The Spoony Experiment uses these a lot.
  • Sometimes used on this very Wiki.
  • Often used on Flickr, especially with photos of museum displays where the real exhibit caption can't be seen. One example had a human standing next to a rocket for scale and the caption was: "You should never stand this close to a rocket. Unless you are demonstrating how cool it is."
  • In The Onion AV Club, they used to do a humorous caption for a pic from one of the movies being reviewed that week, but they haven't done it in years.
  • Running rampant on the Internet, particularly 4chan and DeviantArt, are De/Motivators, which are designed in the vein of typical office motivational posters.
  • From Cracked, we got Craptions!
  • Many YouTube gameplay videos utilize this technique to remain interesting.
  • The Blurb versions of Happy Tree Friends episodes.
  • Todd in the Shadows uses captions as a Running Gag. He often interacts with them too.
  • JonTron, whose most distinct feature is his unique blend of captions and editing. In Game Grumps, the editor Barry adopts Jon's style of captions, sometimes to communicate with the audience.
  • DVDizzy reviews make liberal use of this.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, the captions are basically another Lemony Narrator. Most of the time they mock the show and the characters, and in one episode they get in an argument with an unintelligible character by covering up her translated subtitles.
  • KurtJMac would often use the affectionately-dubbed 'snarky yellow text' to make fun of himself in early Far Lands or Bust episodes. It would also supply additional information, such as when a word was on the tip of his tongue and he couldn't quite remember it.
  • Chuggaaconroy usually uses captions when he catches a contradiction to his commentary in post-processing (sometimes to humorous effect). This extends to videos on The Runaway Guys, since Chugga also edits those videos (which is Played for Laughs by ProtonJon a couple of times).
  • is welcome on these on images on their articles, as a way to avoid Department of Redundancy Department. However, it does have a set of rules as to what is or isn't appropriate.
  • Rocked indulges in this. Much of the comic relief of the show comes from speech bubbles that add jokes or witty insight into a band or event he's talking about, or just add humor to whatever picture's being shown.
  • SomecallmeJohnny also utilizes it a lot in his reviews.
  • It's Alive! with Brad uses/abuses captions a lot. Sometimes it's to show recipes or warn about potentially hazardous processes. But most of the time, Hunzi emphasizes Brad's accent, transcribes his unintelligible but accidental gibberish (when Brad talks too fast), and snarks back when Brad descends into something rather off-topic.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes had funny scientific names for the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
  • In "Wackiki Wabbit," Bugs Bunny poses as an island native for the benefit of two castaways. He utters a lengthy sentence in native gibberish and the caption simply reads "What's up, doc?". He utters four syllables in the same tongue and the caption reads "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party."
  • The Animaniacs segment "Space Probed" has an alien abducting the Warners and telling his brethren, through captions, "There are typical Earth creatures." The Warners then rearrange the words to read "Are these typical Earth creatures?" before making funny faces.

Alternative Title(s): Caption Humour