A Fourth Wall Greeting is a greeting by an actor or character used when introducing a scene, implying that the viewer is about to get an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the production of the scene in question.
Often, the setup of the scene has the camera pan over to an actor caught unaware (often in their dressing room, or on a soundstage), either out of costume or in any other way that indicates that the production cameras aren't currently rolling and what you're seeing is part of the production's self-documentary instead of the end result; you're about to get a candid, exclusive look into its making of. The character often expresses this surprise directly to the camera, for example by greeting it with an impromptu "Oh ... hi! I didn't see you there. As you can see, I'm on the set..." before they begin describing what is happening over on the set.
This setup was sometimes used for commercials for unrelated products, here to give the impression that, while you know that the celebrity endorsing the product is most certainly a paid actor in the profession of telling you things convincingly (even when their character is clearly fictional), right now, you're hearing him when he's off-duty and he's therefore telling you the 'real' truth. While it is still used in advertising, even straight, it is often with at least a bit of a wink and a nod if not outright parody or Lampshade Hanging (such as the actor delivering the line in a way that implies he is reading it from a cue card).
It's also still occasionally used in kids' Edutainment Shows, where it's perhaps a bit more understandable.
- Used particularly awkwardly in an TV ad for Colonial Penn life insurance, with said camera crew approaching an elderly woman as she's exiting a car with her family. She talks to this random camera crew about how she wishes life worked like the parking meter she was feeding. "I could keep putting quarters in, and live forever", even as a child calls out "C'mon, grandma!" And this is all played completely straight.
- Chuck Norris talking to an off-screen "friend" in mock surprise at the end of a Total Gym ad. Because a multi-title holding karate champion with tons of sponsors and access to thousand-dollar equipment would give a shit about a hundred dollar weight bench, let alone interrupt a shoot to tell his friends about it.
- Aladdin: Opens with a merchant addressing the viewer and even interacting with the camera:
Merchant: [Addressing the viewer / camera] Please, come closer!
[Camera zooms in exaggeratedly untill it hits the merchant's nose with an audible "bang"]
Merchant: Too close, a little too close.
[Camera zooms out to acceptable distance]
Merchant: [To the viewer] Perhaps you would like to hear [Aladdin's] tale? It begins on a dark night...
- This Is Spın̈al Tap: Starts this way.
- Used by numerous DVD bonus features on the Stargate SG-1 box set. They're so brilliantly cheesy it's hard to tell if it's deliberate or not.
- Stephen Colbert often uses the line on The Colbert Report on returning from a commercial, especially when he's delivering The Tag from his fireside set. For example, "Oh, Hi there. I was just standing here pretending not to notice you."
- This is a carryover from his segments on The Daily Show. One of them, "So You're Living in a Police State," began with a grainy, greenish image of a bathroom from the ceiling. He came in and stood at a urinal peeing, then suddenly looked straight into the camera and said, "Oh, hi! I didn't see you there in the sprinkler head!"
- And sometimes the camera starts rolling before he 'notices' and we see him rehearsing different deliveries of his "Oh, hi there!" line.
- Another example, from his Christmas Special: "Oh hi! I didn't see you through the wall of my log cabin!" (Said wall is, of course, non-existent)
- The Mitchell and Webb Situation had a sketch parodying this, where the man being featured on a Reality Show is bewildered by the whole charade. The sketch starts with the host ringing his doorbell and greeting him as if it's the first time they've met. "What do you mean? You've been here over an hour. You've only just gone outside again. I'm miked up!" "So where's the kitchen?" "It's where you set up all those lights."
- Josh Groban does this in the faux commercial for "Josh Groban Sings the Tweets of Kanye West".
- This is the regular format of the "Betty White in her home" segments on the NBC prank show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, sometimes with the actual phrase used by White herself.
- An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer begins with Andrew enacting a familiar form of this trope in-universe - he looks up from a book as he sits in an antique chair in an old fashioned library. In this instance the books are fake. In fact the whole scenario is in Andrew's imagination and he's actually sitting on the toilet, pointing a video camera at himself.
- In Mystery Science Theater 3000 the first post-credits segment usually had Joel/Mike and the 'Bots addressing the audience before going to Commercial Sign.
- The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
We're Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band/ we hope you will enjoy the show.
Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere.
- The White Album: "Good Night"
- The second track of Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat is called "The Voice Of Cheese" and has Suzy Creamcheese greet the audience with the words "Hello teenage America..."
- "Well, hello there, and welcome to Urinetown. (Not the place, of course—the musical.)"
- The original Journey into Imagination at Epcot opened up with the Dreamfinder singing to himself before noticing the audience.
"Oh, hello there. So glad you could come along. I am the Dreamfinder."
- Each episode of Ask That Guy begins with this greeting in a different language:
"Hello in a language you won't bother to look up, didn't hear you come in."
- "Hello, I'm The Nostalgia Critic, and I remember it so you don't have to."
- "Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn!"
- "Hi. I'm your Nostalgia Chick, and..."
- There's a hilarious video on YouTube of Gary Busey angrily instructing the interviewer for a Hunter S. Thomson documentary how to conduct it. Busey tells him to call his name as he's looking out into the ocean drinking a cup of coffee so Busey can turn around and be surprised to see someone there to ask him questions.
- Every episode of Yacht Rock (to some degree) was introduced by Steve Huey this way. Ranging from the innocuous "You've caught me lounging in my music nook" (while doing just that) to beating a gimp while wearing bloody underwear: "You've caught me making love."
- Will from Tested.com uses (abuses?) this trope in a video showcasing the site's new office.
- Parodied in a few Homestar Runner cartoons, such as A Death-Defying Decemberween.
Bubs: Well, hey, Homestar! You didn't tell me you were having a holiday special over tonight!
- James van der Beek introduces his Vandermemes this way.
- Numerous infomercial parody videos by the LoadingReadyRun comedy group starts with the "Oh hi, I didn't see you there" line, to the point where it is a Running Gag.
Tim: (entering through the front door) Oh hi, you didn't see me there.
- Phelous loves making fun of this trope in his videos. "Oh, hi there! I didn't see you come in, and I didn't see that I left my camera on the tripod there and left it recording and edited it into my video."
- The Walkthrough maker Super Skarmory starts his videos by saying this starting with his Super Mario 3D Land Walkthrough in 2011.
- Eat Your Kimchi: This trope is often used when the show switches from Simon and Martina as commentators to Simon and/or Martina as performer in a sketch.
- The explanatory video to the Kickstarter project for Neal Stephenson's swordfighting game, CLANG, begins this way. It gets derailed after about a minute as a stuntman hurtles through the greenscreen.
- Seth McFarlane used this opening for a commercial advertising Family Guy on [adult swim]. On the show proper, Stewie uses it at the start of his one-man show, before being heckled off by a drunken Elroy Jetson.
- Speaking of Seth McFarlane, the intro to his "Life of Larry" pilot starts off with him saying (in a completely calm voice), "Oh, hi there. You scared the crap out of me."
- Parodied on The Simpsons with the Mr. Sparkle commercial, the actor in was in a hot tub and basically said "Don't believe me, watch this commercial".
- Also, when Marge sets up a pretzels outlet, the introductory tape she received from the franchiser shows him hastily setting up the camera, before rushing back to his desk, pretending to look through some papers there, and looking over to the camera to deliver the line.
- The 138th episode special used the trope repeatedly with Troy McClure, once parodying it by returning from a commercial break to have McClure asleep on a couch and having to be prodded awake from off stage so he could deliver the line.
- On Sid the Science Kid, this is how the closing segment is presented, in which Sid talks with the viewers in his room at night before going to bed and presents his "Super Duper Big Idea."