Follow TV Tropes


Don't Explain the Joke

Go To
It seems jokes are something The Joker doesn't like to kill. Get it? It's because he's a murderer with a comedy theme!

"Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."

Explaining a joke just makes it not funny, except in those rare cases where the hopelessness of the attempted explanation becomes its own (unexplained) joke.

Like this: Comedian tells a joke. The joke does not get a laugh. The joke is dead. The comic sincerely tries to explain why the joke (should be) funny. This makes the comedian look ridiculous, which does get a laugh. We won't go into why ridiculous comedians are funny. That would be explaining the joke, which you cannot make us do.

Here's another way: Comedian tells a joke. The joke does get a laugh. The comedian proceeds to explain it, anyway, with a joke explanation. For example, "It is a Double Entendre, by which I mean 'have sex with me'". Technically, this is a non-explanation. Maybe that's why it's funny. Who can say? Certainly not us. We don't explain jokes.

Occasionally in this case, where the joke does work, an audience member will guffaw and burst out with an explanation of why they are laughing. "See, it's funny because it's about sex! Hee-haw-hee-haw." We laugh at this jackass, for reasons we all know and need not discuss, as we are too wise to explain the obvious.

However, explaining a joke using a less-than-obvious Alternative Joke Interpretation can mean that explaining a joke can get a second laugh out of the same joke. It's only explaining the joke's primary interpretation that ruins it. Or better yet, imply the second interpretation with a short sentence.

A Sub-Trope of Measuring the Marigolds. Compare Lampshaded Double Entendre and Euphemism Buster, "Just Joking" Justification. May be the outcome of Poe's Law, when a satire/parody fails because the audience didn't realise it is a satire/parody and took it seriously. Deliberate use of the trope is a common stable in Anti-Humor. Resolved Noodle Incident can lead to this when the explanation is less entertaining than the original mystery was.

In-Universe Examples Only

    open/close all folders 

  • There is a 2009 T-Mobile commercial with a part where the customer is in her dummy studio and states that she wants a phone plan that "...doesn't cost one of these and one of these." while holding up a dummy arm and leg then immediately stating that they are in fact " arm and a leg."
  • A Cheez-It commercial does this with the cheese before it "matures" when a cheese wheel asks, "What do you call cheese that isn't yours? Nacho cheese! Get it? It's not your cheese, but I said 'nacho.'"
  • From a commercial for a certain pizza chain:
    Basketball Coach: Now if only Pizza Hut could do something about their free-throw percentage.
    Player 1: Hey!
    Player 2: What?
    Basketball Coach: It's bad.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has a Running Gag that if anyone comes up behind Miu, she'll throw them. Every single time this occurs, there's a little caption box that says something like "Miu has a habit of throwing anyone standing behind her". It gets to the point that the caption itself is its own Running Gag.
  • In the beginning of the 26th episode of Excel♡Saga, Excel has an argument with director Nabeshin about making a musical episode (musicals, after all, take a lot of effort to produce). They conduct this argument while singing the melodies of the series' music. At the end of this segment, Hyatt chimes in, noting that it's already a musical (with Hyatt's enigmatic personality, it may be variant 4 or 5, though).
  • The English dub of Pokémon: The Series is absolutely rife with bad puns, and sometimes lampshades this: "Looks like I'm all in one...PEACE! Haha, see, it's funny, because I'm making a 'peace' sign!"
  • Black☆Star of Soul Eater sometimes overexplains the meaning of his jokes...which is necessary, because they're pretty incomprehensible.
  • In Bakuman。this sometimes happens with the more obscure manga references, such as one in which Nobuhiro makes a reference to the little brother of Sally the Witch. Justified because these are, in-universe, seen as exceptionally obscure and only funny to manga enthusiasts.
  • In Dragon Ball, when the Ginyu Force meets the unlikely alliance of Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta, Ginyu decides that he and his men will "play" with the heroes (and Vegeta).
    Jeice: And by "play", we don't mean peek-a-boo! We're gonna beat you up!
    Ginyu: You don't have to explain it, Jeice!
    • The gag is repeated in the Ginyu Force theme song from Dragon Ball Z Kai, where Jeice again feels the need to explain that when he says he's going to "pat" you with his Crusher Ball, he doesn't mean a pat on the head.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Crazy Crazy Cabbie constantly explains his innuendos.
  • In Non Non Biyori, Natsumi attempts to make a pun, but is met with silence. She then explains the basis of the pun, and Komari replies that Natsumi shouldn't have done it if an explanation was necessary.

  • Once during the UK panel show "Never Mind the Buzzcocks," the panelists had to pick out a celebrity from a line-up. One of the female panelists turned to the host Simon Amstell (who is gay) and said:
    Nerina: You'd appreciate this: number two's quite cute, isn't he?
    Simon: Yes, I would because I... [turns and looks straight at the camera]... am a homo-sexual.
  • Many stand-up comics use this as part of their act, especially to single out a heckler to explain the joke very slowly to them. Examples include Steven Wright (who already has a notably slow delivery), Ron White, Jimmy Carr, and Daniel Tosh (his trademark involves explaining a particularly complicated or obtuse joke). Also helps to SPEAK VERY LOUDLY, in case they don't understand English in a normal (i.e., amplified through microphone) tone.
  • Subverted by Craig Shoemaker who will find a young person in the audience and explain the older jokes (like his Barney Fife impression) to them, making age jokes at their expense.
  • Japanese humor can have a lot of this. A common "gag" is one character blurting out a non sequitur and another character shouting "THAT DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!" For more information, see Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
  • During the roast of Bob Saget, Norm Macdonald did this with lame and predictable jokes, turning his roast into a Post Modern mockery of roasts themselves.
    Norm MacDonald: You have lot of well-wishers here tonight, and a lot of them would like to throw you down one...a well. They wanna murder you in a well, which seems a bit harsh, but that's what it says here on this cue card.
    • This is a regular part of Norm's comedy. From a well-known appearance on Conan O'Brien's show:
      Courtney Thorne-Smith: It's like "9 1/2 Weeks", but with Carrot Top.
      Norm: Is it called "9 1/2 Seconds"?
      Norm: Because he prematurely ejaculates.

    Comic Books 
  • The Batman Adventures: In Mad Love, where Harley Quinn tries to explain the deathtrap she built for Batman and how it is humorous (thus meeting Joker's standards for Batman having a hilarious death), but it backfires — partly due to this trope and partly because of Joker's conviction that he is the only one allowed to defeat Batman. Faithfully done in the Batman: The Animated Series episode based on the one-shot comic. He harshly tells Harley that she needs to learn to "take shots from folks who just don't get the joke"... before smacking her out of a window.
  • In the title story of Killing and Dying: Ronald's joke ("A baby goat walks into a bar. And the bartender goes...he-he, we don't serve kids.") doesn't land. He feels as if he has to explain that "kid" refers to both babies and baby goats before his teacher tells him not to run the joke into the ground.
  • Given the stuff he thinks he doesn't need to explain, it's surprising that Alan Moore does this in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier story "What Ho, Gods of the Abyss!" The idea that Gussie Fink-Nottle can continue operating without a brain is fairly obviously a comment on the Wooster set being "brainless" to start with; it doesn't need to be followed by Mina and Allan explaining it to each other.
  • The punchline of the "Short Circuits" of the first issue of Mega Man (Archie Comics) is a Mythology Gag which is promptly explained in a footnote.
  • In volume 3 of Scott Pilgrim, Todd utterly fails at making a threat, and then makes it worse by trying to explain it:
    Scott: I dislike you.
    Todd: Tell it to the cleaning lady on Monday.
    Scott: What?
    Todd: Because...because you'll be dust by Monday.
    Scott: Huh?
    Todd: Because I'll be pulverising you sometime over the weekend.
    Scott: I'm sorry...what?
    Todd: And the cleaning lady...cleans up...dust. She dusts. And she has weekends off, so...Monday. Right?
    Envy: What in the hell are you talking about, Todd?
  • In an early issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Robotnik sends a robot that looks a lot like Urkel after Sonic, who notes that he "sounds familiar". A footnote immediately explains that the same guy plays Sonic on the then currently running Sonic cartoons.
  • In All-New X-Men, O5 Beast awkwardly tries to converse with Magneto, eventually explaining:
    Past!Hank: The thing is, Magneto, it was not so long ago you were trying to kill us in a murderous rage. So it's very strange to be standing here talking to you like this.
    Magneto: I understood the unspoken subtext of the conversation.
  • The Ultimates: The Wasp takes Banner to the new base, the Triskelion, and pointed that she would have got crazy working in that rat hole in Pittsburgh. He asks if turning green and going into a destructive rampage doesn't qualify as crazy... and then points that he is making a joke. She was not amused.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side had its infamous Cow Tools cartoon, which absolutely zero people got. Gary Larson ended up having to explain it. Of course, all the debate over it ended up boosting Larson's circulation.
  • Dilbert creator Scott Adams once released a compilation called It's Not Funny If I have to Explain It. Let us explain the irony in that title: it's a compilation of strips, each one commented by the creator. Get it?
  • Garfield, On April 26, 2012, a spider about to be swatted says it is okay as long as Garfield doesn't sit on it, and then explains he said it because Garfield is fat.
  • In one Bloom County strip, released before 1988, Steve Dallas, who is representing Bill the Cat, who has been arrested for selling secrets to the Soviets, asks a guy at the FBI building just what these secrets were:
    FBI guy: Secrets? (looks at clipboard) The Secret of the Sierra Madre, the secret recipe for Coke, and the secret of George Bush's appeal.
    Steve: Secret of George Bush's appeal?
    FBI guy: Yep.
    Steve: George Bush doesn't have any appeal.
    FBI guy: (frantic) Well, that's the secret!!

    Fan Works 
  • My Immortal: "Geddit cuz im goffik?" Except sometimes, it's actually necessary to distinguish between an attempted joke and another misspelling. Sadly, those are the ones that aren't explained, merely marked with a "geddit?"
  • Avatars II: When Qwaritch Takes Revenge: "It was a long flight so he put on You Could Be Mine by Guns N' Roses (get it because that song was in The Terminator II which was also by James Cameron so its an injoke!)"
  • The author of Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure tends to explain any jokes he can.
    Queen Meanie! Got it? That's what Pinkie Pie said as the black fog pony appeared in that one episode it's a nod to that episode. That makes it funny, even if this is a sad, sad story.

    Got it? P. Resident — President. Just remove the dot and put the P before the R of the name. It's funny.

    Cupcakes! Get it?
  • In the third chapter of "LPS: Galebreak REDONE" on DeviantArt, Pepper calls LQ84-i a Tin Mutt. The bot then proceeds to dissect what makes the joke work (even calling it amusing on 2 levels), much to Pepper's infuriation.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • Joey:
      Joey: Man, that is one girl I'd like to play card games with. And by "play card games" I mean "have sex".
    • Bakura in Episode 18. "Run while you can mortal, soon I will rule the world, and then we'll see who smells. (pause) It'll be you!"
    • Also Kaiba in Episode 21, while inside a computer simulation: "Time for a trip to the recycle bin, Phantom. And then once you're in the recycle bin, I'm going to right click on it and select "empty recycle bin". Because otherwise, you'll just be taking up unnecessary space. In other words, I'm going to kill you."
    • A failed example that wasn't intentional is when Tristan's voice changes, and Joey later punches him when he insults his fighting ability. According to Joey, "Ever since your voice changed you've been like a completely different person." He then continues with "Actually, you've been like the same person, just with a completely different voice".
    • "It is funny because "wang" means "penis"."
    • Marik combines this with Late to the Punchline after Melvin telling Bakura 'I always knew you wanted me inside you Bakura'.
      Marik: Oh I get it he was implying that you wanted me to sleep with you.
  • Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
    • This exchange:
      Goku: Hey, King Kai.
      King Kai: What the hell, Goku?
      Goku: I just realized. While trying to introduce the blooper special, we're making bloopers for it. Isn't that funny?
      King Kai: No. No it's not.
    • Also this pretty blatant (but hilarious) example:
      Vegeta: Now it's time to reveal my giant monkey... (camera over his crotch, crowd gasps) ...form. (camera pans to face. Crowd sighs in relief)
      Man in Crowd: Thank God, I thought he meant penis!
    • On Fake Namek the impostors get confused by their own plan, leading to the comment "It's funny because 'wang' means 'penis'."
    • In the Bardock special, Zarbon has one.
      Frieza: Oh forget about it, he's already on a direct course for Planet S.O.L.
      Zarbon: ...Planet what?
      Frieza: (long-suffering sigh) Planet—
      Bardock: Vegeta!
    • One time, explaining the joke turned out to be the setup to another joke:
      Krillin: Geez, these aliens are scary. Especially that one in the front — looks like a total FAG.
      Gohan: Krillin!
      Krillin: What? A Freaky Alien Genotype. What'd you think I meant?
      Gohan: Oh. I thought you were calling him a derogatory term for a homosexual.
      Krillin: THAT THING'S A GUY?
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Abridged:
    Joseph: Do you know where the building in this photo is?
    Bartender: Depends. Do you know where my foot will be if you don't order anything?
    Joseph: (sigh) Alright, we'll have four iced teas—
    Bartender: It will be up your ass. Just saying.
  • In the Super Therapy! session "Joker & Harley Quinn Therapy!", the Joker himself falls into it, starting to explain the joke about "having Poison Ivy on his junk". Then he gets depressed that he, of all people, would resort to that.
  • Subverted in A Changed World. Discussing First Contact between the Federation and the Bajorans (borrowed from the original series novel Allegiance in Exile), Bajoran viewpoint character Eleya comments that Leonard McCoy had to make Kirk a cure for banta fever. Gaarra, also Bajoran, nearly falls over laughing, but Biri, a Trill, doesn't get it. Then Eleya explains that banta fever is a Bajoran STD and Biri breaks out in giggles.
  • In Sunday Skivvies, Luan says that one of the golden rules of comedy is never to explain the joke, because then it's no longer a joke.
  • Retold The Second Year:
    Fred: Yes our dear brother seems to have been under the apprehension that you had left us.
    George: But like when he plays Quidditch he missed.
    [General indifference]
    George: See miss-apprehension miss the scoring ring. It was a play on words.
    Fred: Dear brother if you have to explain it then it is too lame to survive out of the nest.
    George: Oh I suppose but it certainly sounded a lot funnier in my head.
    Fred: Most things do.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers:
    • In the first movie, one of the evil spies is a superstitious Irishman with a charm bracelet that has a unique trinket on it for every man he kills. The bracelet is of vital interest to international law enforcement, and he proclaims "they're always after me lucky charms!" which causes the audience and everyone sitting at the table with him to snicker. He asks why everyone always laughs when he says that, and Frau Farbissina tries to tell him about the commercials. Her ridiculous description of the commercials (in reality an ad-lib that was Thrown In) makes it even funnier.
      • Of course, in this case it's also necessary to explain the joke, for the benefit of viewers who never saw the original commercials.
    • "I like to see girls of that... caliber. By 'caliber,' of course, I refer to both the size of their gun barrels and the high quality of their characters... Two meanings... caliber... it's a homonym..."
    • The third movie starts right away with this. The joke in the opening is that we're watching an Austin Powers movie starring Tom Cruise, one of the most recognizable humans alive, and the movie helpfully labels him. It does the same to Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow, putting her character's name on screen one second after she said it. Cut away to Steven Spielberg, who is not only in a chair labeled "Steven Spielberg", but is referred to by Austin by name, with his job helpfully mentioned. It gets better. When Austin sees Britney Spears, he helpfully yells, "It's Britney Spears!"
  • Mike Myers is still at it in The Love Guru:
    Guru Pitka: Rajneesh, I'd like an alligator soup, and make it snappy! Because alligators are snappy, and at the same time, I want it prompt. (grins for camera)
  • Although it was a threat instead of a joke, after the sheriff in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves threatens to Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon, Sir Guy of Gisborn doesn't get the comment, so the sheriff says, "Because it's dull, you twit. It'll hurt more!"
  • There is a German movie called Französisch für Anfänger ("French for Beginners") that contains a dialogue that goes something like this:
    Boy: French is friggin' boring. And those French people... selfish, arrogant baguette munchers!
    Girl: I guess you won't be getting along with my mother too well...
    Boy: No?
    Girl: She's French.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy:
    • Ron Burgundy plays this well. First he uses subtle innuendo to get across the joke without explaining it. Then he dives right in and explains what everyone was thinking. Despite this, everyone in the film still considers him a smooth individual, making for a third level of funny.
      Shelly (former cheerleader): I've got a big story for you, and it's right here. (points to her breasts)
      Ron Burgundy: Well hello... you pointed to your boobies.
    • From the soundtrack of the film:
      Ron Burgundy: You know what I'm talking about... (implied wink)... I'm talking about sexual intercourse.
    • He goes further, in that explaining what he's doing often becomes the joke.
      Ron Burgundy: We are laughing and we are very good friends. Good buddies sharing a special moment...
      Brian Fantana: Don't say anything, Ron, and just let it happen.
      Ron Burgundy: ...laughing and enjoying our friendship, and someday we'll look back on this with much fondness.
      Ron Burgundy: I'm storming your castle on my steed, m'lady.
  • In Predator, Hawkins tells two jokes to Billy about his girlfriend, but since he Cannot Tell a Joke, both times he ends up explaining the punchline when it doesn't get a laugh. It's possible that Billy is messing with Hawkins on both occasions, since he parodies his own role as The Stoic from time to time.
  • The Hangover: Mr. Chow insults Zack Galafinakis and then explains... "It's funny because he's fat!"
  • At the end of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the comic-relief sidekick Jonathan declares that he's going someplace where there aren't any mummies to deal with, and adds, "On to Peru!" A caption then informs us that "Soon thereafter, mummies were discovered in Peru."
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
    • A good example during Scott and Ramona's first date:
      Ramona: I just wanted to move somewhere more chill, y'know?
      Scott: Well, it's certainly "chill" here!
      Ramona: (smiles) Yeah.
      Scott:'s "chill" as in "cold."
      Ramona: (deadpan) Yeah.
    • Additionally:
      Todd: Tell it to the cleaning lady on Monday.
      Scott: What?
      Todd: Because you'll be dust by Monday... because you'll be pulverized in two seconds. The cleaning lady? She cleans up... dust. She dusts.
      Scott: So, what's on Monday?
      Todd: Cause... it's Friday now, she's the weekends off, so... Monday, right?
    • The second one there is an example of one you HAVE to explain since it makes no sense on its own. Also, it wasn't exactly a joke, more than an overly wordy threat. Still loses its punch by having to be explained, but then again, Todd's just like that.
  • The African guides in George of the Jungle get one of those rare times when explaining the joke actually manages to enhance the humor:
    Guide 1: (to the camera) Bad guy falls in poop: Classic element of physical comedy! Now comes the part where we throw our heads back and laugh! Ready?
    Other Guides: Ready!
    (all burst into laughter)
  • In Get Him to the Greek, there is a song in there by Aldous' ex-wife Jackie Q called "Ring Around My Posy", full of innuendos about anal sex. At the very end she says, "I'm talking about my asshole."
  • In the documentary The Aristocrats, this trope is completely inverted. The entire point of the movie is to explain the joke "The Aristocrats" but because of the nature of the joke, which is ad-libbed and unspeakably profane in all its variants, the joke does not die.
  • In Road Trip, Kyle's joke about dogs and their testicles goes awry because of him repeating the punch line.
  • In Pitch Perfect, during one of the competitions, the announcers John and Gail end up doing this when talking about a high-pitched male singer:
    John: It sounds to me, though, Gail, like his boys haven't dropped yet, if you know what I mean.
    Gail: If you mean his testicles, then I do, John. I do. I really do.
  • Toots in Key Largo is called out on his habit to explain his jokes.
  • ˇThree Amigos!. When Ned Nederlander sees a biplane flying overhead he makes a joke about it being a mail (male) plane "because of the balls." When his fellow Amigos don't immediately get the joke, he explains it to them at length.
  • A review of Brazilian movie Os Parças complains that a joke is ruined because of this: a criminal orders his henchman to "do a Clark Kent" on someone, and so the guy is thrown out the window. A few moments later, someone asks why it was called that, and the criminal explains "Superman flies... Clark Kent crashes to the ground!"

  • Believe it or not, there is at least one joke out there where explaining the joke is actually part of the joke, because it sets up the even more groan-worthy actual punchline.
    A horse walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, "You're in here an awful lot. Are you an alcoholic?" The horse replies, "I think not!" and promptly vanishes from existence. You see, this is a joke about René Descartes's famous line from philosophy, "I think, therefore I am," but I couldn't explain that first because that would have been putting Descartes before the horse.

  • Older Than Radio: From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, When the King of Hearts tries to explain the rather nonsensical poem at the trial scene:
    King: Then again— "before she had this fit" (to the Queen) You never had fits, my dear, I think?
    Queen: Never! (angrily throws her ink well at Bill the Lizard)
    King: Then the words don't fit you.
    (dead silence in the court)
    King: It's a pun!
    (everyone laughs)
  • Deliberately exploited in Book of the Dead (2021), when Dove wants everyone to be fed up with him and walk away, so he can have a private chat with Tyron.
    Rogil: Keep it short. We'll wait for you inside the gate.
    Dove: No need for that. I'll catch up with you guys at the keep tonight. I've got a little business with a few ladies in town, if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean?
    Aryll: Yes, Dove, we know what you mean.
    Dove: I mean sex.
    Monica: Shut up, Dove.
  • Discworld often has characters who, after making a pun(e) or other clever word play, would usually start to explain the joke before the other character even has the time to react to said joke. Death tends to be the biggest offender — being The Spock of the series. Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs are repeat offenders, too.
    • The Discworld Companion indicates that this is an old tradition among the Fool's Guild, whose founder, Jean-Paul Pune, was considered notable for having figured out a way to pronounce brackets, as in "Q. When is a door not a door? A. When it's ajar (a jar)!" — which got him tarred and feathered and left for dead.
    • The Fool in Wyrd Sisters does this in the middle of a joke: "Marry, nuncle, if'n I had a Knighthood (Night Hood), why 'twould keep my ears Warm in Bedde."
    • Willikins, Sam Vimes' butler, explains a reference in the Ankh-Morpork Times' political cartoon to his employer in Thud!! Considering it's a reference to stakeouts in a cartoon about vampires, lifelong policeman Vimes is the last person to actually need the pun pointed out to him. Possibly a Brick Joke, as Vimes made the same pun to Carrot a dozen novels earlier in Men at Arms. He didn't get it.
    • Witches Abroad. Granny Weatherwax tells a joke, or tries to anyway: "So he said, 'Get me an alligator sandwich — and be quick about it!'"
      After much speculation on (it says here), Terry Pratchett explained it thus:
      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.
      See this is funny because the author is explaining why Granny has to explain the joke, and in doing so he explains the joke about why the joke has to be explained, something the reader would grasp without the explaination.
    • Death has a similar problem with the concept of humor, as seen in this line from Hogfather:
      Death: Let's get there and sleigh them. Ho. Ho. Ho.
      Albert: Right you are, Master.
      Death: That was a pune, or play on words, Albert. I don't know if you noticed.
      Albert: I'm laughing like hell deep down, sir.
    • The phrase "Pune, or play on words" tends to show up pretty often in Discworld books... presumably the Disc's humorists will eventually come up with a pun which would actually be funny without having to be explained. Because, you know, the jokes are so bad that no-one laughs, and the people who tell them think people didn't get the joke because they didn't understand it so that they have to explain them.
    • Carrot does this a couple times when writing to home, which makes sense because his parents are dwarves. Dwarves have less of a sense of humor than Granny Weatherwax and think that "Irony" means "something like iron."
    • An even worse example happens in Reaper Man: during a meeting between Ankh-Morpork's various leaders, the Alchemists' Guildmaster mentions how a piece of lab equipment earlier levitated and shattered, whereupon the representative from the Fool's Guild responds "Verily, it was a sharp retort." No one gets it, he explains the joke, and everyone else makes a forced chuckle. Then the alchemist adds, "What makes it even funnier was that it was an alembic." Argh.
    • In Going Postal, after Moist Von Lipwig cons the city into thinking the gods gave him a ton of cash, his business competitor comments that they will handle this in the newspaper by stating that they are interested in "profits, not prophets." Since he's saying this out loud, no one in the room gets it. He tries to explain the joke by repeating it, but it goes over their heads again, so he sighs and remarks that it will look better in print.
  • Hondo Ohnaka's Not-So-Big-Score: Downplayed. Hondo makes a joke about showing the Upper-Class Twit tourists the inside of a pirate base. While he does have to explain that by this, he means they'll kidnap the tourists, this is only because some of his men are too stupid to get the simplest of jokes.
  • The puns in the later Xanth novels are often explained rather than actually showing their pun nature. Take the "Hippo-Crite". Does it actually do things that are hypocritical? No. It just says, "I never mean what I say." Well, since it's a series of books built exclusively on puns, anymore, it's not hard to imagine that Piers Anthony would run out of steam eventually. And he did — a lot of the puns are fan-submitted, although some of the setup is still Anthony's.
  • Kurt Vonnegut does this constantly in Breakfast of Champions to emphasize the narration's ironic and misanthropic point of view. He even explains and illustrates things which would be ridiculously familiar even to not very smart readers, which gives the weird impression that readers are not expected to be familiar with life on Earth.
  • Daphne's father in Nation does this, as the narration mentions that this is something no-one should ever do, not even the king. Then the Gentlemen of Last Resort tactfully explain why the joke still doesn't work, and advise him what change he needs to make for it to make sense.
  • In First Lord's Fury of Codex Alera, a joke is flayed to a bloody mess on the carpet:
    Antillus: When we get back, you and I are going to have a talk in which you lose your teeth. Because I'm going to knock them out of your head. With my fists.
    Phrygia: I think we all understood what you meant at the end of your first sentence, dolt.
  • From Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain:
    "You mean... oh, I see now — how marvelous!" Hans Castorp laughed. "What a jokester you are! 'At half past nine' — did you hear, cousin? Herr Settembrini is saying that it's too early for some of 'last year's participants' to spend a little time at the ball. Ha, ha, how spooky. He means the people who have finally put aside all 'lusts of the flesh' — if you know what I mean."
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): Pattern, Shallan's Bond Creature, is a Literal-Minded creature alien to the physical world who finds anything not literally true a "lie," and wants to learn more about them. He is especially interested in jokes, and spends a lot of time picking them apart, trying to find what makes them funny. Shallan has to explain that the first rule of humor is that there's nothing less funny than doing exactly that.
  • Robin Cook has a habit of doing this in his medical thrillers. An example from Vector:
    "Chet, old sport," Jack said, giving Chet a pat on the back, "thanks for being the cavalry, and I'll see you back at the orifice in a few minutes." "Orifice" was a comical malapropism for "office" that Jack and Chet frequently used when speaking with each other."
    • Then again, Cook also feels the need to explain, earlier in the same book, that two characters winking at each other is "part of an established method of nonverbal communication," so maybe he just really loves to explain everything.

  • The Basement Jaxx song "Oh My Gosh", a girl sings about a guy she's met (not that THAT narrows it down, but, you know); their conversation at one point goes:
    He said "how many sugars do you like in your tea?"
    I said "Forget about the sugar, have a spoonful of me!
    'Cause I taste so sweet!"
  • As one blog post points out, rappers in general are prone to explaining their own jokes in-song, much to the disdain of the blogger.
    Biggie: If Fay' have twins, she'll probably have two 'Pacs... Get it? Two...Pacs?
  • brentalfloss's Ducktales with Lyrics (Moon Theme) (yes, this was sung in its entirety):
    Keep on finding gold and jewels, just lay off the quack.
    Off the quack! It's a pun and it's about ducks.
  • "It's Halloween!" by Songs to Wear Pants To: In one verse Andrew is listing off costume-appropriate treats to hand out, which ends with:
    Swine flu guy gets some bacon strips
    And for the robot, a bag of really small chips
    Get it? It's a joke about microchips...
  • "Smell The Color 9" by Christian singer Chris Rice, in which he compares trying to find God for oneself to attempting the song title. At the very end, he sings "Nine's not a color, and even if it were, you can't smell a color. That's my point exactly."
  • Any rapper who says "Get it" or similar after dropping a punchline. Lil Wayne in particular is notable for it.
  • Richard Cheese's live cover of the Darth Vader theme, on his album Back in Black Tie, reuses a joke he's used previously, in which he calls out for a piano solo, a drum solo, a bass solo, and a Han Solo. Then he tells the audience: "See, because, his name is Solo, and they were playing solos. So I go, 'Han Solo'."
  • In the spoken-word preamble to The Dead Milkmen's "Bitchin' Camaro," off their Big Lizard in my Back Yard album, Jack mentions that his parents drove his new car up from the Bahamas. His dim interlocutor says, "You're kidding!" Jack retorts, "I must be. The Bahamas are islands."
  • Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" has him complain that the used clothes he bought smell like R. Kelly's sheets. As in...
  • From Tim Minchin's "Prejudice": "they'll be pretty smart because they'll be well read. And by read I mean read and the other kind of red, it's a homophone!"
  • Bo Burnham spends a large chunk of his raps explaining the rapid-fire jokes that make them up, from why a girl dating a "large" man should wear African neck rings to interrupting a love song portraying him as a southern aristocrat in a relationship with one of his slaves to explain that he'd still have to work her full time because "there's a difference between romantic language and complete disregard for socio-economic trends."
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once wrote a four-part "musical joke", which is pretty funny without explanation. But here, the trope is inverted because this particular joke gets even funnier when the joke is properly explained.
  • At the end of "34+35", as the song fades out, Ariana Grande gives away the obvious joke about the title.
    Means I wanna 69 with you
    No shit
    Math class
    Never was good

  • In The Fallen Gods, when Josh asks if the draconians in the treasure area are stronger than the other one they encountered, Jake says yes because they scale.
    Jake: 'Cuz they're dragons. Get it everybody? Did you get my joke? They scale because they're dragons!
  • In the Chicago Cubs fan podcast Ivy Envy, a Running Gag is that submitters to the weekly photo caption contest need to explain every pop culture reference in parentheses, due to the hosts' extreme case of Limited Reference Pools / Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure.
  • Expertly inverted during a particularly slow scene in the RiffTrax cover of Mesa of Lost Women.
    Bill: My God, Dr. Seuss' The Zax had more action than this!
    Mike: Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Corbett has just made a reference to an obscure work by Dr. Seuss entitled The Zax, included in the book, The Sneetches and Other Stories. It describes two creatures who become stuck when they stubbornly refuse to get out of each others' way. By implying that a book with a protagonist who refused to move over the course of many months has more action than the past seven minutes of Mesa go Lost Women, Bill has disparaged the film in an over-the-top manner. This message paid for by Dr. Seuss Explanatory Footnote Council. Member FDIC.

    Print Media 
  • Nintendo Power used to do this. Whenever they cracked a Take That! joke, they'd always add "That's a joke; we kid the (target attacked)!" One fan letter pointed this out and said that it kills the joke; he should know, he went to a comedy school. NP responds with, "You tell us you took a comedy class and then write us a letter that's not funny? Some comedy teachers you have! That's a joke; we kid your teachers!"
  • Dave Barry briefly indulged in this after receiving one too many letters from people who didn't grasp that he was joking when he wrote something. The rest of the article was written with "closed-captioning for the humor-impaired", in which he explained every single joke he made immediately after making it.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Believe it or not, the subtitles that explain what is going on is beneficial to the Botchamania series. As a lot of the clips (botches) are taken from some of WCW's older stuff, explaining the context of the match, stipulations, etc., help the viewer understand why it's considered a botch in the first place (it should; this IS old WCW, after all). Plus Maffew explaining the joke sometimes underscores the hilarious inanity of segments ("THEY BRAWL OUTSIDE IN A CAGE MATCH").
  • WCW commentator Tony Schiavone had a bad habit of calling Hugh Morrus "humorous" as if we wouldn't get his Punny Name on our own.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets (2011):
    • In the final spoof trailer for the film, Pepe says "It's Twilight. Almost time for Breaking Prawn." Not only does he address the audience "Get it?" but then a narrator explains that Pepe is a shrimp, also called a prawn.
    • Done in-universe in the blooper reel, with a bunch of muppet hobos explaining a joke they'd just made to Hobo Joe, repeatedly pointing out that when you have to explain a joke, it's dead. After they give, Joe bursts out laughing.
  • On one episode of Muppets Tonight, there was Seymour and Pepe's attempt at telling the "Elefino" joke, which is made even funnier by the diagrams and placards they use to explain it. The audience still doesn't get it.

  • BBC Radio 4's The Now Show has a Running Gag that, before the audience has time to react to particularly lame puns (and there's a lot of them), they'll be lampshaded with "Do you see? Do you see what we did there?" Most notably:
    Jon Culshaw: (as Alan Sugar, as the coroner in the Diana inquest) Your task was to try to prove a conspiracy by Prince Philip to kill Diana. You've offered no real evidence and wasted my time. I have no choice — You're Fayed!
    Hugh Dennis: You see? Because it sounds like "fired"! Fayed! It's his name!
  • Used in Fags, Mags and Bags:
    Rameesh: Ted, do you like kids.
    Ted: Yeah... but I couldn't eat a whole one! You get it? I'm implying that I eat children!
  • Long before The Now Show, The Goon Show was deliberately introducing lame puns and then undercutting them.
    Grytpype: That would certainly deter them.
    Seagoon: Yes. They'd have to make a detour. Hahahahahaha! Get it? Detour? Hahahahaha! ...ahem.
  • Mr. Boynton on Our Miss Brooks occasionally does this.
  • Invoked on Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation:
    Jeremy: Now, at the risk of explaining what you've just heard in a way that sucks all mirth from life, in a similar manner to Nicholas Parsons on Just a Minute...
  • The cast of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue occasionally attempt to explain jokes that haven't got a laugh, including one occasion when Jack Dee told Tim "No, the audience is right", and the following exchange:
    Barry: Hello magazine: Queen's potato goes out, exclusive pictures? (lukewarm response) The Queen tried to smoke a potato.
    Graeme: Instead of a cigarette?
    Barry: Yes.
    Tim: That would be a mistake on her part.
    Fred MacAulay: That would have great comic potential!
    Barry: Yes! Not now, but...
  • If MK is anything to go by, radio host Charlamagne Tha God is fond of hitting on women using an extremely corny line - "Hey baby, let me shoot your club up!" and then explaining it to them ("It's when a man ejaculates in you"). The pickup line is neither clever nor funny in the first place, but it only gets worse when it's explained. But as MK points out, men who use stupid lines like that on women get what they're after far more often than they deserve to.

  • Carson Baye was a particularly unpopular character in Survival of the Fittest V3 due to his habit of referencing anime, then immediately explaining the references. Although, there were a number of other (mostly out of character) reasons for this too.

  • In NASCAR on FOX's pre-race coverage of the 2011 Daytona 500, this occured during the segment where the analysts were giving their choice of winning driver for the Pizza Hut Race Prediction. Mike Joy had selected Tony Stewart, Larry McReynolds had chosen Kurt Busch, but this is what Darrell Waltrip said:
    Darrell Waltrip: Call me sentimental, but I'm picking the #103 car.
    Mike Joy: (off mike) What?
    Darrell Waltrip: That's the #88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) and the #15 (Michael Waltrip) coming to the line together.
It Makes Sense in Context if you knew that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip used to be teammates at Dale Earnhardt, Inc (the race team created by Dale Earnhardt, Sr, who had been killed at Daytona 10 years previously).
  • This is Ben Roethlisberger's schtick on's NFL Quarterbacks On Facebook, to the other quarterbacks' constant annoyance. He is known to explain every joke in all caps.

  • In Mary Mary after Mary and Bob light their cigarettes, they both exclaim, "Mmmm—that's real coffee!" Tiffany is puzzled by this, and demands an explanation of this private joke:
    Bob: We once heard this announcer on television. It was late at night and I suppose the poor joker was confused from having to talk about so many products all day. Anyway, he started to do a cigarette commercial. He sucked in and smiled and said "Mmmm—-that's real coffee." (Tiffany does not react) You see, it wasn't worth going into.
  • An article criticises Spamalot for explaining a joke (which wasn't explained in the original film), and thus going against the whole point of Pythonesque humour.
  • The play Picasso at the Lapin Agile features a joke about a man who walks into a bakery to order a pie shaped like the letter "E". When everyone doesn't get it, Einstein has to explain why they had to use the letter E by explaining why they didn't use most of the letters, such as a C-shaped pie is the same in capital and lowercase, and an O-shaped pie is basically a regular pie. He says he'll get back to D, but never does... maybe because a D-shaped pie is basically half a pie.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2:
    • Handsome Jack over-explains one of his jabs at his ex, Mad Moxxi:
      Handsome Jack: Once you've eaten prime rib for free, it's hard to go back to suckin' down hamburgers for cash. If you know what I'm talking about. Do you know what I'm talking about? (Beat) Dicks. I'm talkin' about dicks.
    • During the side-quest "The Ice Man Cometh", Claptrap has the Vault Hunters sabotage the heaters in a bandit camp in the hopes that the bandits will "chill out". When this fails to get a laugh, Claptrap assumes the Vault Hunters have No Sense of Humor and launches into an excessively detailed explanation of the concept of puns and why his joke was supposed to be funny.
    • In the same game, Scooter makes a pretty obvious, humorous euphemism for sex, and after a brief pause blatantly says, "That's sex."
  • In the flash game Crystal Story II (available at, the Orcacle insist in explaining the pun of her name combining oracle, her job, with orc, her species. She finds it hilarious; the player character doesn't, but then again, he's aghast whenever he's talking with almost anyone.
  • In one chapter of The Darkside Detective, McQueen is called out to a campground to investigate the disappearance of a scout leader. After examining the scene of the crime (campfire, a couple of portable canvas shelters, etc.) he attempts to cheer up the scouts with a joke about the situation being "two tents". When it doesn't get a laugh, he attempts to explain it, which doesn't go over any better.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: The Rose of Sharon Cassidy, when explaining the NCR building a massive statue as part of a Mojave-sized dick-waving contest.
    Cass: Nobody's dick that's long! Not even Long Dick Johnson, and he had a fuckin' long dick. Hence, the name.
  • Genshin Impact: Cyno apparently never learned this. Every time his jokes fall flat (which is to say, nearly every time he tries to tell a joke), he will explain the intended humor at length, nothing else about him breaking from his usual serious demeanor.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: If Tammy asks you what your favorite dessert is, you can reply, "Desert? I prefer the Sahara myself." However, she won't get the joke, and you have to explain it to her, which makes it less funny and causes her to lose confidence.
  • In the Monsters, Inc. world of Kingdom Hearts III, Mike tries getting a laugh out of Boo with a dropped contact lens routine. Sulley, the only one who gets the joke, has to spell the punchline out to a clueless Sora:
    Sulley: Yeah, it's 'cause his eye's so big. The joke is you can't lose a contact the size of a dinner plate.
  • A random conversation between Joker and EDI in Mass Effect 3 has Joker telling her a joke about a krogan and a salarian. When he's finished, EDI breaks this rule and then proceeds to dissect the stereotypes behind the joke, which in turn forces Joker to explain that the stereotypes are exactly why the joke is told by members of both races, adding that "Comedy isn't about being nice. Sometimes it's about airing out the nasty things people think."
    • Even when EDI does make jokes, she tends to be bad at conveying sarcasm, and often has to clarify "That is a joke." when people take her seriously.
  • Mega Man Star Force has a "Don't Explain the Insult" variant at the beginning of the satellite admins segment of the first game, when Geo gets pissed off at Luna for following him everywhere and trying to get him to go to school, and calls her a "satellite". Luna doesn't get it, so Geo tells her what he meant, also adding that it's a play on her name.
  • An incident at the inn in Neverwinter Nights 2 offers a discussed Type 1. Qara calls Neeshka "tail-for-brains". When Neeshka complains that her brains aren't in her tail, Qara says said brains must be next to it, and that she should loosen the back of her pants because they're obviously not getting enough air.
    Neeshka: Okay, explain that one to me.
    Khelgar Ironfist: Well, she said your brains are next to your tail... which would imply that your brains are in your rear end. And that means you breathe through your—
    Neeshka: Okay, okay, I get it, all right? Little witch.
    Khelgar: Don't take it so hard. I had to explain it, which means the insult's a failure.
  • Portal:
    • In the end credits song.
      GLaDOS: Maybe you'll find someone else to help you. Maybe Black Mesa... THAT WAS A JOKE. HA HA. FAT CHANCE.
    • Portal 2 has both antagonists pull this one on separate occasions. GLaDOS because she's a Deadpan Snarker and Wheatley because he's genuinely stupid. The latter is adorned with heavy Lampshade Hanging.
      GLaDOS: Remember when I was talking about smelly garbage standing around being useless? That was a metaphor. I was actually talking about you. And I'm sorry. You didn't react at the time, so I was worried it had sailed right over your head. Which would have made this apology seem insane. That's why I had to call you garbage a second time just now.

      Wheatley: You [...] are going to love this big surprise. In fact, you're going to love it to death. Love it until you're dead — until it kills you. I don't know if you're picking up on what I'm saying...
      GLaDOS: Yes, thanks, we get it. (later) Alright, so he's not even trying to be subtle anymore. Or maybe he still is, in which case, wow, that's kind of sad.
  • The Wii version of Sonic Colors plays this outright for laughs:
    Eggman: Nothing will stop me! I know, I say that every time, but this time, really, nothing will stop me!
    Orbot: Er...boss...
    (Orbot points to behind him; the camera pulls back to reveal Sonic)
    Sonic: Who you calling "nothin"?
    Cubot: (scratches head) Huh...?
    Orbot: He means since the boss said "nothing will stop me", and Sonic here is going to stop him, it's like the boss was calling Sonic "nothing."
    Sonic: Great! I thought nobody would get that.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: "I'm on cloud control! Ha ha! Get it? Instead of "crowd," I said... Aww, never mind."

    Visual Novels 
  • This occurs in Sickness the middle of an innuendo-laden dialogue about fighting:
    Markus: There's no need to be shy. I brought some fresh meat, and now you want to beat it.
    Markus: ...Heh. Get it? I called him meat, and implied that you want to beat his—
    Andrei: Okay, that's enough of you.

    Web Animation 
  • Hazbin Hotel: After Charlie announces her goal to open a hotel to rehabilitate sinners, she's met with a long silence. She awkwardly explains that she chose a hotel because hotels are for people to temporarily stay at while on their way to their destination. She's met with even more silence and at least one demon laughing at her vision.
  • Homestar Runner goes through several layers of this, along with an implied Type 1 and unnecessary Lampshade Hanging, when Strong Bad reads through a computer catalog.
    Strong Bad: (reading the catalog) The Roomy-Vac is a real power-HOUSE... Get it? Oh, you don't? Well, because it's the size of a... Oh, you were kidding? You do get it? Pretty good, huh? No?
    Strong Bad: Why would they print that whole exchange?
  • Weebl & Bob: Episode 17 of "On the Moon" inverts this when Insanity Prawn Boy mistakenly thinks the Toast King is making a knock-knock joke.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Andy does this quite a few times, so much with Martha that it is essentially his catch phrase.


    Web Original 
  • This Internet Oracularity is a really meta example that's somewhat hard to explain without spoiling the joke itself.
  • The whole point of Marmaduke Explained: explain obvious, non-funny jokes in a deadly serious manner, thereby making them funny.
  • Wondermark blog "The Comic Strip Doctor" once demonstrated what's up with Garfield:
    How could a comic that incorporated any of the following panels not be funny? Somehow, Garfield manages. And the secret, it turns out, is through overkill: Here, the punchline is set up twice and delivered twice (visually and through dialogue).
  • Cracked:
    • From the article "The 5 Craziest Presidential Campaign Ads of All Time": "Russians were encouraged to vote for Cracked's favorite evil mastermind, Vladimir Putin, with an ad campaign that equated casting a ballot for Putin with playing with his Tetris block, if you know what we mean. (We mean having sex with him.)"
    • From the article 6 Laws That Were Great On Paper (And Insane Everywhere Else), discussion of the fact that enforcing boxers wearing gloves meant they chose more frequently to aim for the head, thus causing more brain injuries: "bare-knuckle fighters, on the other hand, prefer to avoid the head altogether: The skull is the hardest part of the body. The likeliness of breaking a hand against the head meant that fighters often chose to hit the body, thus saving their hands for more important things. If that was too subtle an entendre, we meant masturbating. That was a masturbation joke."
  • The subtitle for There, I Fixed It! (a website that catalogs photos of scary DIY projects)'s picture book is a rather unnecessary (No You Didn't!).
  • Fark:
    • One common stock gag on this news aggregator is for a submission to woodenly summarize what happens in a news article using increasingly stretched Unusual Euphemisms for a prominent "impolite" concept, then stiffly drop the anvil in the last word. Penis.
    • Also common is for someone to actually explain an overused headline joke in the comments: "See, it's funny because Sarah Jessica Parker's face is hideously elongated, not unlike a horse's face."
  • This entry from Not Always Right.
  • The SCP Foundation has the humorous SCP-005-J-EX, a "cognitohazardous meme" that causes people to think that jokes are still funny after they've been explained. The Foundation is suppressing its spread by telling people that doing so is "really annoying".
  • Mark Does Stuff - in his video for Star Trek: Voyager's episode "Life Line", when the character turns around and says something dramatic, Mark comments "You know, we hadn't had a dramatic turn like that in a while.... get it? It's both a dramatic turn...literal and meta— stop."
  • The explain xkcd website is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a wiki solely dedicated to explaining each and every joke and reference in the xkcd webcomic (xkcd can be very esoteric at times, with jokes often involving specific scientific knowledge and/or obscure references, so most readers can expect to find multiple comics that they don't understand).
  • Completely subverted/parodied/inverted as a running gag at The Comics Curmudgeon, where the underlying horror of the strip is explained instead of the joke itself.
    [under a The Family Circus strip in which Jeffy asks if the weatherman can be sued for not predicting the rainstorm that's currently raging at their campground, preventing them from leaving their tent]
    The Curmudgeon: Ha ha! It's funny because the litigious nature of society, which is tearing our civilization and sense of community apart, is ingrained in children at an age so young that it's impossible to dislodge! Also, it's funny because their vacation is ruined!
  • Flagrantly Averted in Ben Garrison's political cartoons. Practically every single person or thing in each cartoon has a label on it saying exactly what it is (such as showing some stereotypical "fat cat" type with "establishment" written on him). That said, given his likely target audience, it may well be a Justified Trope in this case.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall complained about the first issue of Marville having an "insider's guide" explaining who various celebrities and superheroes who eventually appeared in the comic were as this, down to playing the Batman: The Animated Series clip that the page image inspired.

    Web Videos 

  • The Nostalgia Critic falls into this all of the time when targeting comedies, oftentimes substituting explaining a joke rather than pointing out why it isn't funny. This is most blatant in his review of Super Mario Bros. (1993) when he calls out the movie's use of a Who's on First? joke by asking whether or not it's supposed to be a Who's on First? joke.
  • In The Guild, season 1 episode 3 "The Macro Problem":
    Zaboo: You like my helm? It's +5 sexterity... Get it ? It's like "dexterity" but... with "sex", in the front. Like a prefix... I'm kind of a linguist.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog features a rare example where the joke itself isn't very funny, but explaining it is one of the funniest moments of the whole video:
    Captain Hammer: 'Cause she's with Captain Hammer. And these[lifts fists] — are not the hammer. [walks out]
    Dr. Horrible: ...
    Captain Hammer: [walks back in] ... The hammer is my penis.
  • The Spoony Experiment: "Space Mountain is my penis."
  • Seltzer and Friedberg do this all the time, a fact that was mocked heavily in LoadingReadyRun's parody video "'Movie' Movies Movie".
    Fartinidus: Spartans! My name is Fartinidus, which is a clever play on the name of the hero from the movie Meet the Spartans, which in turn was making fun of Leonidas, from the movie 300, which was popular.
    Random Everygirl: Wait! I'm just a lonely single girl trying to make it in the big city! You see I used to be quite comically overweight, but then my cowboy friend gave me a makeover! He's gay! Like in that movie, Brokeback Mountain!
    Bitterman: I have a confession — I'm not actually a gay cowboy. I'm actually... a space alien! It's a twist, like in an M. Night Shyamalan movie!"
  • Phelous, in his review of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), inserts lines of "Teddy" (his name for the remake version of Freddy) explaining all of his "brilliant" jokes in the movie, presumably to demonstrate how unintelligent the jokes are.
    Freddy: (after killing Kris' dog) I was just petting him. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh...
    Phelous!Freddy/Teddy: Ah, ah, ah... cause you see, dogs usually like to be petted. But...but...but I did it with my claw hand y'know... which is sharp... blades on it... cut it up when I petted it... killing it! That's why it's funny! Ah ah ah ah!
  • CollegeHumor:
  • Done all the time in Third Rate Gamer, and even lampshaded at one point:
    (talking about Ring King) "Holy shit! It looks like they're getting blowjobs! What do you mean explaining the joke ruins it? Fuck you!"
  • Done in Why Lying is OK! by Matt Santoro. Matt talks about a hacktivist group that had been wreaking havoc on the net for the last 50 days.
    Matt: The group's name is Lulz Sec, which stands for Lulz Security. They call themselves that because, unlike other hacktivist groups like Anonymous, these guys hack just for the laughs. Or, just for the lulz. "Lulz", meaning "lol", which means "laugh". Yeah, it's all very clever!
  • This happens on Mother's Basement with Geoff's first two videos of his My Hero Academia OP's. In the first video, he repeatedly states that Tohru Hagakure appears in a shot where she couldn't be seen, which led to some people getting confused. The joke? Tohru Hagakure is invisible.
    So he explains the joke at the beginning of the second video, but does so by a comedic visual representation of the saying "the joke goes over ones head", using the second My Hero Academia OP.
  • In one episode of Analog Control, MJTR makes a joke about the rather squicky fetish of saline inflation. This was obviously an attempt to get Thayne to have a disgusted reaction, but goes one step further when MJTR asks Thayne to explain why he is disgusted. In order to keep from digging himself deeper, Thayne quickly ends the conversation.
  • Drew Gooden:
    • In trying to explain the joke behind one of his Vines, he ends up admitting that the more he explains it, the less funny it becomes. In that same video, he also lampshaded this again, adding a caption that called his explanation pointless.
    • One Vine helpfully informs us that his shocked reaction to being "followed" on Twitter is just a joke.
  • Often occurs in Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, usually when the Screenwriter tries to pull a reaction out of the Producer for his writings. An example is the Sausage Party episode, where the Screenwriter had to explicitly explain the innuendo behind the character designs and premise, prompting a nonchalant "very clever" from the Producer.
  • Inverted in the Scott The Woz episode "The Trial"; everyone's reaction becomes a lot more positive after the joke is explained.
    Terry: Focus, we gotta reel this [case] in!
    Terry: a fish!
    [everybody cheered and high fived]
  • The Epic Rap Battles of History focusing on the Joker vs. Pennywise sees the Joker get annoyed at explaining his jab about Stephen King's cocaine habit after it went over Pennywise's giant head.

    Real Life 
  • In the legendary court case Leonard v. Pepsico, a man had decided to literally interpret a Pepsi commercial that mentioned various merchandise available for "Pepsi points" in a promotional program, jokingly including a Harrier jet for 7,000,000 points. He therefore set about acquiring 7,000,000 Pepsi points and demanded his Harrier jet, eventually suing when he didn't receive it. Among other matters, the ruling set about a laborious explanation of why the commercial was "evidently done in jest," despite the judge's evincing some reluctance to do this:
    Plaintiff's insistence that the commercial appears to be a serious offer requires the Court to explain why the commercial is funny. Explaining why a joke is funny is a daunting task; as the essayist E.B. White has remarked, "Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process..."


Alternative Title(s): Do Not Explain The Joke, Explaining The Joke


The Joker


How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (43 votes)

Example of:

Main / DontExplainTheJoke

Media sources: