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Comedy as a Weapon

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Laughter may be the best medicine, but here it's also the best ailment!

"Well, the Slayer always says a pun, or a witty play on words, and I think it throws the vampires off and makes them frightened because I'm wisecracking. Okay, I didn't exactly have a chance to work on that one, but you try it all the time."
Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Anne"

Instead of sheer force, a BFG or a great display of magic, a character uses jokes, puns, slapstick, laughs, etc... to fight an enemy or achieve a goal.

Sometimes humor may be used to distract the amused opponent or even leave them Helpless with Laughter, while at other times the humorist may literally cause his audience to Die Laughing.

Sub-Trope of Art Attacker.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, Ash's Haunternote  saves the day by making Sabrina laugh with its antics, causing her to lose focus on the Gym Battle and thereby giving Ash both a Gym Badge and his friends' freedom from Sabrina's clutches.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is nothing BUT Comedy as a Weapon - in-universe, it's an actual fighting style known as Hajike (Wiggin in English) used by most of the main characters. It mostly consists of unpredictable attacks sight gags and puns used to confuse or drive their opponents (and sometimes their allies) crazy.
  • In My Hero Academia, it's Ms.Joke's whole schtick. Her Quirk, "Outburst", makes her opponents laugh uncontrollably and lose control of their motor and cognitive skills, which makes it easy for her to finish them off with a good brass-knuckles-boosted punch in the face.
  • One Blue Seed omake involved Kunikida, normally a lame pun-user, manage to make a joke so funny, the victim would Die Laughing.
  • Hamtaro: In episode 198, the Ham-Hams were able to save Snoozer from the dream-eating Baku through a combination of Howdy's terrible Baku-related puns and tickling its body to make it laugh hard and spit out Snoozer's good dream.

    Comic Books 
  • The obscure Marvel Comics superhero Captain Ultra (who became a standup comedian in his secret identity) once faced 'Angrr, The Demon Without Humor'. He defeated it by telling a joke. Justified in that it was a magical being vulnerable to comedy, though Ultra claims that "telling Ultra-Funny jokes" is ones of his powers. (Not likely.)
  • The Donald Duck comic story "Zio Paperone e i predoni dello spazio" has Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge go after Space Pirates, but first they run into a helpful, but pacifistic Reality Warper animal which transforms their disintegrator rays into laughter-inducing rayguns. These prove highly effective in debilitating the pirates.
  • Spider-Man explains exactly how this works in the The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows miniseries:
    "There's a reason I tell jokes. It centers me. It calms me. It rattles bad guys. And when they laugh, their cheeks rise, their eyes squint. Their vision's impaired. And their head tilts back… exposing their jugular."

    Fan Works 
  • Coyote: Riley Coyote's quirk allows him to access cartoon physics and hammerspace, which he frequently deploys for combat situations, including a dosage of verbally making fun of his foes. This deactivates, however, if he goes too far with the joke with someone he feels is undeserving and begins to feel bad about it, at which point his powers cease functioning.

  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Eddie defeats the Weasels by making them laugh until they die. Roger even states that in dire situations, laughter might just be the only weapon you have.
  • In Patch Adams, the titular character believes in helping patients through humour and laughter.
  • Assuming the 'etc' above includes music, the way The Beatles fight the Blue Meanies in Yellow Submarine.
  • In Song of the South, after Johnny is attacked by a bull and rendered unconscious, Uncle Remus gets him to come to by telling him the story of Br'er Rabbit and the Laughing Place.

  • The Dark Tower
    • In Wizard and Glass, Eddie kills Blaine the Mono by telling him a lot of lame jokes. They are not just lame jokes, they have no logic, no smart puns. He basically kills Blaine with non-sequitors.
    • The monster Dandelo in the final book has the ability to tell jokes that induce literally killing laughter in his victims.
  • In the end of Making Money, Mr. Bent, a bank manager who's the son of a clown, upsets the trial of Moist von Lipwig by throwing pies and performing stunts with a ladder. Admittedly, he mostly only serves as a distraction, but he does manage to also bring the ledgers that Vetinari needs in order to determine that the gold was stolen before Moist arrived at the Royal Bank.
    • More seriously, he also nearly manages to paste Vetinari in the face with a pie. Given the reputation damage that would have resulted, and that in Ankh Morpork's political instability it could have ended Vetinari's tenure as patrician, Moist jumping in front of it is treated as Taking the Bullet.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Boggarts are introduced as beings that transform into the viewer's worst fear, but laughter repels them. Professor Lupin teaches his students the spell Riddikulus to turn the scary displays into funny ones to inspire laughter.
  • In the 1937 short story Mr. Laughter by Alexander Belyaev, the protagonist Douglas Spolding discovers the secret mechanism of humor and gains the ability to make anyone laugh uncontrollably. At first, he uses this power more-or-less benevolently, to consult a failing standup comedian named Backford, making the latter an international star again. However, when Backford refuses to pay him, Spolding weaponizes his knowledge, almost giving his employer a heart attack by making him laugh at his jokes until he writes him a check for 10 million dollars. The authorities try to apprehend Spolding, but he just sends entire police squads into uncontrollable laughter fits, proving himself virtually untouchable. His downfall then comes when he decides to marry the wealthiest heiress in the world, carefully preparing a "plan of attack" to force her to accept without killing her... except he finds out that Ms. Fight is already enamored with "the Laughter King", so his entire plan turns out to have been unnecessary — which he finds so funny, his own mind snaps, and he falls into a clinical depression for the rest of his life.

    Live Action TV 
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has covered this a few times:
    • The "World's Funniest Joke" sketch revolves around a joke so funny that everyone who hears it or even reads it will fall down and Die Laughing, even with precautions such as somber music and funeral chants. The military has it translated into German to use as a weapon against the Nazis in World War II. Even then, people translating portions of the joke have been hospitalized for accidentally reading too much at a time.
    • In the "Piranha Brothers" sketch, Doug Piranha kept his underlings in fear by his use of sarcasm. "He knew all the tricks - dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. Grown men would pull their own heads off rather than see Doug."

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The results of sword fights in the Monkey Island games are based entirely on insults and puns.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, The Hero must make use of The Ultimate Joke in the game's final battle. While the joke itself is not lethal, it will incapacitate anyone (even a vampire with no sense of humor!) by making them laugh uncontrollably the first time they hear the joke.
  • In Dragon Quest VII, the jester class has a variety of abilities that make enemies laugh, preventing them from attacking. They tend to be Useless Useful Spells due to Contractual Boss Immunity, but it's worth using the "One-liner" ability on mooks just to see all the jokes the game has to display.
  • In Undertale Snowdrake can be spared after laughing at one of his jokes, and monsters accompanying him can be spared after making your own joke.
  • Toontown Online: The battle system for the Toons is based entirely on Zany Cartoon gags and jokes, which can deal damage, stun, and heal fellow Toons. It's stated in-universe that their enemies, the Cogs, can't take a joke and that gags are the things that can defeat them.

  • In 8-Bit Theater Black Mage accidentally kills an arc villain using bad puns.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan takes a level of the Prestige Class "Dashing Swordman", which makes him vastly more effective in combat by letting him apply his Charisma bonus (basically a measure of his charm and/or force of personality) to attacks with a weapon if he uses a pun or otherwise uses some clever wordplay while attacking. But his target apparently has to actually get the joke (and he can't just repeat the same line if he's used it before).
    • Eventually he runs into an opponent who is also trained in this style combat, resulting in a duel where they are literally matching wits and blades at the same time, parrying each others' physical blows with rapid wordplay until one of them flubs his reply (while distracted) and is immediately disarmed by the other.

    Western Animation 
  • In a US Acres short on Garfield and Friends, aliens who consider laughter a powerful weapon try to steal Earth's comedy, and Orson and company try to make them laugh in order to defeat them.
  • In South Park, Jimmy saves himself from a vengeful pimp by telling him jokes to distract him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In part 2 of the series premiere, Pinkie Pie teaches her friends to literally laugh in the face of danger with a song, which happens to banish an illusion conjured by Nightmare Moon.


Video Example(s):


Ham-Hams VS Baku

Through a combination of Howdy's terrible puns and tickling its body, the Ham-Hams were able to rescue Snoozer from the dream-eating Baku, who ate Snoozer's good dream.

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Main / ComedyAsAWeapon

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