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Cuckoolander Commentator

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"Cadwallader scored again, making things level, but Luna did not seem to have noticed; she appeared singularly uninterested in such mundane things as the score, and kept attempting to draw the crowd's attention to such things as interestingly shaped clouds and the possibility that Zacharias Smith, who had so far failed to maintain possession of the Quaffle for longer than a minute, was suffering from something called 'Loser's Lurgy.'"

It's the Big Game, everyone is in the stands and excited. They can't wait to see what happens, to hear the announcer as he or she comments on the action and keeps the crowd up to date. Too bad said announcer is off in his own little world and not really paying much attention to the actual game.

The Cuckoolander Commentator is, as the name suggests, a Cloudcuckoolander whose job it is to announce, comment on, or otherwise narrate on what's going on at an event. This will cause, at the very least, an Unreliable Narrator and will usually require a straightman second announcer to act as the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder.

It's less common to see such announcers in a serious event or setting, unless the story in question is a comedy in the first place. More commonly it will be a relatively informal affair, and indeed the Cuckoolander Commentator may just take up the job himself without anyone asking (or particularly wanting) them to do so.

If the character does appear in a formal or major setting, it could be that the Cuckoolander is actually a deliberate act. A characterization the announcer does to add some flavor to the job and add to the witty banter between a co-announcer or host.

Compare Large-Ham Announcer, which this trope can overlap with, since the Cuckoolander Commentator's antics can easily be part of the Funny Moments for a work. Tends to be the Wise Guy half of a Straight Man and Wise Guy duo.

May also be The Announcer for a game show, in which case any Cuckoolander qualities may indeed be an intentional act for entertainment.

Currently, this trope is envisioned for announcers at particular events or shows, rather than the general narrator, though that may change depending on examples. Also, it isn't intended to include merely snarky or funny commentators. Cuckoolander Commentators are usually funny, but it's often because they're so out there and, barring the deliberate act clause, usually aren't doing it intentionally.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • JLA #76 starts out by showing Plastic Man announcing the eponymous League's celebratory baseball game. At the end of the scene, everyone disappears except him, leading him to call for a break in the booth while he has a seizure. As it turns out, he's hallucinating as his body is reconstituted in the Watchtower's lab.

  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story gives us Pepper Brooks, known for his staggering powers of deduction and assortment of non sequiturs. While Cotton McKnight isn't exactly a shining paragon of sanity, he usually plays the Straight Man to Pepper by popping a Fascinating Eyebrow and choosing not to respond to Pepper's more... outlandish comments.
    Cotton McKnight: Folks, I'm being told that Average Joe's does not have enough players, and will be forfeiting the championship match.
    Pepper Brooks: It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.
  • Fred Willard's character in Best in Show is a former American Football player turned sportscaster, who is horribly misplaced commentating alongside an expert at the titular dog show. This results in tangents and crude humor, as well as an overwhelmingly clear impression that he has no idea what he's doing.
  • A running gag in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is NBC announcer John Hannafin mistaking random fans in the audience for celebrities.
    John Hannafin: Thank you, Sean. I'm here with one of the greatest country music stars of all-time, Kenny Rogers. Kenny, what do you think of the race so far?
    "Kenny Rogers": [actually a middle aged Asian man] It's great. They're going really fast.
    Bill Weber: John, that's not Kenny Rogers.

  • Harry Potter:
    • The example quoted above is the result when Luna Lovegood is made a Quidditch commentator in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Professor McGonagall acts as her Minder.
      Luna: ...but now that big Hufflepuff player's got the Quaffle from her. I can't remember his name. It's something like Bibble - no, Buggins -
      Professor McGonagall: It's Cadwallader!
    • The earlier commentator, Lee Jordan, wasn't as extreme, but had shades of this trope. While he did announce what was going on in the game, he also had a tendency to rant about the Slytherin team's less-than-ethical play tactics (including screaming profanity at them), discuss how pretty he thinks certain female players on the Gryffindor team are, and gush about Harry's new Firebolt ("Jordan, are you being paid to advertise Firebolts? Get on with the commentary!"). He also can swear pretty badly when Gryffindor is losing, to the extent where McGonagall tried to take the microphone off of him at one point.
    • Rowling later did a write-up of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup with Ginny Weasley acting as the commentator and Daily Prophet and perennial Dumbledore's Army thorn-in-the-side Rita Skeeter acting as a gossip commentator because of the presence of members of Dumbledore's Army in the audience. This in itself doesn't put her in cuckoolander territory, as it's actually her job to gossip on their activities. Where this comes in is when she starts trying to fit everything they're doing into her gossip narrative, to the point where she tries to make something sinister out of their cheering for exciting moments of the match, so engrossed in this idea that she doesn't realize that said exciting moments are happening. Finally, at the end of the match, Ginny has enough of it and gives her a "jinx to the solar plexus."
  • In the Dungeonpunk novel The Sleeping Dragon by Jonny Nexus, one of the Adventuresport (stylised dungeon-crawling) commentators is a former player, prone to go on about how much better the sport was when there was no health and safety regulations and you could refer to nonhumans with racial epithets, while his co-commentator tries desperately to keep him on topic, or at least on subjects that won't lead to audience complaints.

    Live Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live: A recurring sketch featured a pair of announcers at various ladies sporting events, one of whom is completely clueless. One of his more cogent moments, after a bowler bowls a strike:
    Greg Stink: She's gotta be careful.
    Pete Twinkle: Why is that?
    Greg Stink: Two more strikes and she is outta there.
    Pete Twinkle: No, no, no... Now, hold on, Greg. I — you know, I think you're thinking about baseball.
    Greg Stink: Yeah, you're probably right! I do not know this game! It is an absolute mystery to me!
    • Will Ferrell's portrayal of Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Carey made him appear this way, with Harry going off on completely unrelated tangents when delivering his reports on Weekend Update.
  • A hilarious example happens in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, where Fry and Laurie are commenting on an English Cricket game. By the end of the sketch they're shouting about completely random things from growing up in England.
  • MTV Brazil had a soccer tournament between musicians, Rockgol. Given the high level of play (one time a player managed to make an offside reposition wrong!), the commentators, usually comedians, would put nicknames on the players and referees and talk about anything possible.
  • ESPN employs one of these for, of all things, the World Series of Poker in the form of Norman Chad.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Dusty Rhodes. Botchamania has a segment called "Insane Dusty Commentary".
  • Art Donovan at King of the Ring 94.
  • Taz on occasions and Botchamania has a segment called "Insipid Taz Commentary".
  • Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat. For one thing, he had a different name for every jobber than whatever they would be announced as and was convinced every last one of them was part of the "Bobaganush clan".note 
  • Pretty much every SHIMMER commentator besides Dave Prazak, including Allison Danger but especially Portia Perez and Kellie Skater, for whom delusion is already a given.
  • Booker T. since returning to do commentary on Smackdown in 2011.
  • Brad Maddox on his few commentary appearances. What he says almost always contradicts what's actually going on in the ring. Once during the middle of a match he asked Michael Cole if he had "direct deposit on his check?"
  • Daffney Unger during the early volumes of Shine, when she decided to join the more straight forward Lenny Leonard of its WWN predecessors RoH, FIP, Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE.
  • On the March 30, 2013 edition of Saturday Morning Slam, Daniel Bryan served as guest commentator, and spent much of the time going off on a tangent about bears, culminating in Bryan going ballistic when Antonio Cesaro put R-Truth in a bear hug. See it here.
  • After Matt Taven got injured near the end of 2015, he spent 2016 behind the ROH table, and was fine so long as he was reminded of his own "greatness" or saw something he personally experienced. Any deviation from these things led to diatribes about hair, his school day shenanigans, virtual pets, his acting aspirations and such.
  • Spanish WWE announcer Héctor del Mar definitely qualifies. His callings tend to fall in all kinds of absurd puns, improvised senseless proverbs and downright bizarre comments about the matches and the wrestling in general, and the most awesome thing is that he is not the color commentator (who technically is Fernando Costilla, Deadpan Snarker of Humor Amarillo fame). Despite his little attachment to wrestling announcing itself, Del Mar is popular in Spain to the point that many Spaniards watch WWE more due to him than the actual product.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Walter vs. Stretch Grudge Match", Miss Brooks deliberately invokes the trope when she's assigned to do the play-by-play commentary for the titular boxing match between the teenage combatants:
    Miss Brooks: As the fighters go to the center of the ring, just a word of reminder. Boys, if like Walter Denton, you're about to get your head knocked off, why not put an Adam Pat on it first? And now let's listen to the referees' instructions...
    Mr. Conklin: Marquis of Queensberry rules. I am here for one reason and one reason only. To see that fair play is strictly observed. You will at all times be honestly and impartially judged. Now, then, Stretch?
    Stretch Snodgrass: Yes, Mr. Conklin?
    Mr. Conklin: I want you to be sure to go a neutral corner every time Denton is on the floor. You Denton?
    Walter Denton: Yes, sir?
    Mr. Conklin: Where do you want your body... oh, well, I... Now then you two, I want a good clean fight and may the better man win. And win quickly, Stretch. Go to your corners, come out fighting.
    Miss Brooks: There goes the bell, folks. Oh, Walter's down, fell over his shoelace. Now it's tied, and the two men meet in the centre of the ring. They're cautious at first, Walter is dancing lightly around, left arm extended. Stretch is dancing around. Now they're dancing around together. Mr. Conklin breaks them, and once again they circle around carefully. Now here it is, the first exchange . . . .
  • The radio version of Dead Ringers parodied famous cricket commentators' (such as Henry Blofeld, whose father was the namesake for the Bond villain) tendency to talk about all the cakes they'd been sent in by local fans by exaggerating it into them rather talking about those than the ongoing cricket match.

    Sporting Events  
  • Australian Rules Football commentator Rex Hunt sometimes makes it really hard to tell what's going on from his commentary (even for those who understand the game perfectly), and combines it with Large Ham. Depending on who you ask, the result is either heaps of fun or incredibly annoying.
  • In Major League Baseball, longtime San Diego Padres radio announcer Jerry Coleman was famous for this, with one example being "It's a high sky out there, and that can get you in trouble if you get caught in the middle of it."
  • The NFL's John Madden showed glimpses of this during his long tenure as a color commentator. Between his tendency to fall into Captain Obvious mode, his occasional near-incoherent ramblings, and some absolutely bizarre moments (Turducken, anyone?), his eccentricity made him easily the most beloved of NFL commentators during his time.
  • Brazilian announcer Galvão Bueno has many moments of this, given he rambles a lot and at times tries to show off his intelligence with inane and malaproper-filed comments. An infamous case was "The physics don't allow it."
  • Don Cherry of Hockey Night In Canada may be a good mid-game commenter, but it's sometimes hard to tell what he's saying over his extremely loud and varied wardrobe.
  • As alluded to in the Radio section, Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 has a reputation for its commentators going off on rambling tangents about something only incidentally related to the match, albeit usually while the players are breaking for lunch or tea or the match is halted by inclement weather. Most cricket fans wouldn't have it any other way.

    Video Games 

  • One xkcd strip has Beret Guy as the play-by-play announcer of a baseball game. While he does accurately describe the action on the field, he has zero understanding of how the game works (even referring to it as "Part 5 of a hitting game"), so his descriptions of a swing and a miss, fans cheering a play, a pitcher striking out the side, and a runner stealing second base all boil down to Expospeak Gags that require effort to decode.
    Beret Guy: This guy has a big bat so he'll probably hit the ball far. Wait... he missed. Oh good, they're letting him try again.

    Web Original 
  • Jesse Cox could be considered this. Especially when paired up with... well... just about anyone really but especially the more serious TotalBiscuit. It gets inverted when he works with Wowcrendor, who despite often being much more mellow than the bombastic Jesse, is a major Cloudcuckoolander on his own. This fact gets lampshaded in an episode of The Co-Optional Podcast when Jesse realizes that, when he's teamed with Crendor, he's the TB of the duo.
  • LetsPlayer raocow. His Let's Play commentary is some of the most bizarre stream of non-sequitur consciousness you'll ever find on the Internet.
  • Homestar Runner: "Fall Float Parade" has Coach Z attempting to be the announcer for Free Country USA's "firty-tirst annual Fall Float Parade". His co-announcer Marzipan is not amused when the K.O.T.H.S. Marching Band decides to "break it down" and he gets distracted trying to do a freestyle rap.
    Marzipan: No more free-styling, it's really annoying.
    • The creators sent an unfinished script to the Homestar Runner Wiki titled "Soap Box Doiby". In this script, the cartoon's usual announcer is joined by the King of Town, who thinks that the derby is about him eating soap and keeps referring to the Announcer as "Walter". Eventually, he comes up with the idea of joining the race by eating out the middle of a giant cheese wheel, and immediately leaves to do just that.
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • In "Rock, Clocks, and Two Stupid Ponies", Pinkie and Spike are allegedly the commentators for the fall race. In practice, they spend all their time talking about how high they are and never even mention the race.
    • In "The Pet Games", Dick Hardman spouts non-sequiturs and nonsense, and he frequently has no idea what's even happening in the game. The other commentator, Tom Waterman is much saner in comparison, but he can't be all there because he acts like Dick's commentary is completely normal.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Missing Links of Moorshire!", Launchpad is picked to be Huey's co-commentator for Scrooge and Glomgold's golf match. It's pretty clear that Launchpad doesn't know that much about golf, and spouts a few bits of random sport jibberish. He's a much more efficient commentator in "The Rumble for Ragnarok!" since it's wrestling, a sport he frequently watches.
  • Pinkie Pie in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is the commentator alongside Spike for the contest between Applejack and Rainbow Dash during the annual Running of the Leaves in "Fall Weather Friends".
    Spike: You know, Pinkie, these two ponies have a bit of a grudge match they're trying to settle, trying to prove who's the most athletic.
    Pinkie: Yes! And "grudge" rhymes with "fudge"!
    Spike: Yes it...does? What?
    Pinkie: And I like fudge. But if I eat too much fudge, I get a pudge, and then I can't budge.
    Spike: fudge?
    Pinkie: Aw, no thanks. I had a big breakfast.
    Spike: Looks like Rainbow's doing her best to catch up!
    Pinkie Pie: I'm not sure how ketchup is going to help her in this contest. Now in a hot dog eating contest, it can make them doggies nice and slippery, but personally I prefer mustard. How about you, Spike?
    Spike: Uh...I like pickles?
  • Nick Diamond is certainly more eccentric than his co-commentator, often filling time between Celebrity Deathmatches with... something bizarre.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Phineas and Grandpa Clyde announcing the roller derby. Phineas actually commentated the events while Clyde just listed all the colors he could think of. He was the color commentator.
    • A later episode had Phineas and Isabella commentating on a batting cage competition, with Isabella describing it as something between the X-Games and a gladiatorial match.
      Isabella: It's survival of the fittest! A test of wills! Only one contestant will survive!
      Phineas: No, no, no; everyone will survive.