Follow TV Tropes


Funny Background Event

Go To
"What kind of an emergency? What's the rush to get off the planet all of a sudden?"note 

"We cut to Avengers Mansion, where all the superheroes that were not abducted are gathering, got a list, are already figuring out who is missing. There's a weird little drawing in the bottom left corner by Ron Lim where Iceman trips Speedball who apparently plants his face between She-Hulk's boobs. Is that something that Jim Starlin wrote into this cosmic script? Or was Ron Lim getting bored and was just like 'I gotta draw this for me.'"

The humorous counterpart to the Meaningful Background Event, and sometimes overlaps with Distant Reaction Shot.

Sometimes, a scene contains something funny going on in the background. Very often it is used during a conversation and if you are paying too much attention to the foreground, you may even miss the scene, especially if (as is often the case) the characters are looking away from it. The event can contain simple slapstick humor, or be an inside gag. It doesn't have to be subtle, sometimes it is obvious while the conversation is unimportant. The important thing is that it is played in the background and is at least somewhat funny or cool.

Despite the name, sometimes this can actually be in the foreground or momentarily panned over, but the important point is that the audience has their attention directed elsewhere.

Occasionally, this might be a result of Artificial Atmospheric Actions. See also Cue the Falling Object. Compare Annoying Background Event, which is only funny to the audience.


Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • An advertisement from about 10 years ago (probably for an Internet search engine or some such) has as its tagline, "There's fun stuff everywhere. You just need to know where to look." In the immediate foreground we see a dour-faced man stepping out of a subway car while further back in the subway station, almost too far away to be seen, the doors to another subway car are opening and several circus clowns are stepping out! Made even funnier by the fact that the clowns have dour facial expressions, too.
  • State Farm has a commercial out now (2011) featuring a guy claiming the money he saved on insurance bought him a falcon. The end of the commercial draws attention to a guy who used his savings to buy samurai armor, but throughout the commercial there are people walking by with all sorts of things, including a cockatoo, a clown car, a stuffed moose head, etc.
  • During the Compare the Meerkat advert "The Battle Of Fearlessness" there are two soldier meerkats throwing sandballs at each other near the start.
  • One of the commercials for Mio Energy involves every scene having something different. The only thing that doesn't change is an older worker pushing a cart.
  • A series of commercials for Food Lion (a regional grocery chain in the southeastern US) features the Food Lion mascot, a talking lion. In one of the commercials, the lion talks with a stereotypically embarrassing smother who makes snacks for a sullen teen's Garage Band. She and the lion make snack choices that embarrass her son, ("Mom! Fishsticks. Do Not. Rock!") but almost imperceptibly, one of his bandmates actually agrees with the mom, and is excited about those snack choices.
  • There's an insurance commercial in which a tailor is outfitting the ad's spokesman in a custom-made suit, pinning sections of material in place as his client talks about Allstate. There's a three-quarter-length portrait on the wall behind them, which shows the client in real time: the first time it's shown he has no sleeves, in the second glimpse his left sleeve has been attached, and in the last shot of the painting he's fully suited with hands folded, exactly as the man stands in front of it.
  • A Guinness commercial shows the two animated brewmasters in a sports bar reflecting on their last visit to a cowboy bar, where they yelled hysterically while riding a mechanical bull. However, as they're riding the bull, a cowboy in the back of the barroom walks up to another man and punches him out; in the next shot, that cowboy smashes a chair over the other man's head. In the third and final shot, the victim grabs his tormentor and throws him into the rafters on the other side of the barroom.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Strips 
  • Used frequently by the comic artist George Herriman, often as Running Gags. A recurring Funny Background Event in his comic The Dingbat Family eventually led to his most famous creation, Krazy Kat.
    • In one Krazy Kat strip, there is a Spanish-language poster that changes with every frame (and changes fence side for one frame), but is always a word or phrase in Spanish with an image that matches the text. Special props to the one on Ignatz's side of the fence that reads "Ratón Muerto", Dead Mouse.
  • These were all over the Smokey Stover strip, starting in 1935.
  • Done in Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin's Mom says that she hasn't seen Calvin for about fifteen minutes. We then see out the window while she's reading the newspaper, where the family car is rolling into the road and Calvin and Hobbes are chasing it. In the last panel, she says that it probably means he's getting in trouble.
  • In this Candorville strip, the diploma on the wall changes from "M.A." to "Ph.D" to "WTF".
  • Allison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For contains lots of background goodies, such as a sign reading "Try our gluten-free, lactose-free, low-fat white pizza!"
  • FoxTrot often has small, easily missed gags in strips where the characters talk in front of paintings, posters, or photographs. A recurring gag is the object in question changing between panels (such as a person on a magazine cover being in a different pose). Likewise, whenever a character is reading a newspaper there will usually be a joke about a cartoonist in the headline.
  • Paul Sample's Ogri cartoons have entire little subplots taking place as Funny Background Events. For example, a dog is looking down a drain; then the drain eats the dog; then the drain belches; then it spits the bones out. Or the main sequence of the strip involves a bike cop stopping Malcolm and rabbiting on endlessly as he pulls charge after charge out of the "Police Officer's Handbook of Fantasy Charges" to charge Malcolm with, while in the background Ogri is taking the cop's bike apart and selling the bits to random passers-by; when the cop is finally finished and turns back to his bike, Ogri has disappeared and nothing is left of the bike either.
  • Used in What's New? with Phil and Dixie, with things like people in dice costumes walking behind the title characters, or little gag scenes going on in the back ranks of crowds.

    Fan Works 
  • In New Chance, Konoha's council is still reeling from finding out Naruto's father is alive. All while Inuzuka Tsume is trying to stop her dog from eating the human heart (It Makes Sense in Context) in the dustbin near them.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, in episode 9, Quick Man was still running when the black hole shut down, resulting in him crashing through a wall with an Impact Silhouette.
  • Monsters In Paradise: In Chapter Six, Yukari's Ninetales tries to squeeze into a booth next to her while the youkai carries on a serious conversation with someone, oblivious to it all.
  • In the story Kitsunes Power, Kakashi and Anko have a discussion about how Anko has been training her apprentice and how bad Kakashi's team is while in the background, Naruto and Zabuza decimate the local forest as they battle.
  • There are two of note in a million miles of fun: The first is the manager of the Greasy Spoon at which the fic takes place informing the waitress that spirits still have to pay with human currency. The second is the truckers gawking in the background as P'Li devours enough for the whole Quirky Miniboss Squad.
  • In an untitled fic which is essentially a music video screenplay, the narrator mentions offhand that Mab is poisoning Titania's drink.
  • In A Snake Without Fangs, a Wild Kratts fic, there's a scene where Zachbots are teleported into a fight looking like giant terrifying hornets because Zach Varmitech has actually been taking some lessons from nature and wanted them to look more threatening. One Zachbot in the background is still actively painting itself, stencils and all, and seems startled to be there.
  • A few examples from Pokémon Reset Bloodlines:
    • In Chapter 18, while Iris discusses with Ash how to train Goomy for offensive moves and evolving, Charmeleon gets into a Metal Claw fight with Excadrill, breaking a bunch of trees in the process. Their trainers just ignore them.
    • In Cynthia's oneshot, while she is seeing visions of the past and possible future, she sees her birth. Her father is eating a muffin the entire length of it.
    • At least twice in Chapter 24, Team Rocket was heard being sent blasting off.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: While Patchouli is venomously chewing out Remilia near the end of the story for sending her out on a fool's errand, Flandre is snacking on the strawberry-flavored ice chunks created by Megas's clash with Suika.
  • In this piece of Bloom Into You fan art, Sayaka gets jealous as she walks by and happens upon a public display of affection between Yuu and Touko.
  • The Victors Project: During the Victors Talent Show, as Cecelia has a tense confrontation with the Victor who beat her promising tribute due to Executive Meddling, Beetee is assembling some kind of mechanical device which turns out to be a water balloon launcher he blasts Gloss and Cashmere with.
  • In episode 7 of Sporadic Phantoms, while the main trio are discussing their next move at the gala, Nancy Candleton's speech can be heard in the background...which mostly consists of variations on the phrases "we should treat owls like children" and "sometimes, children are owls".
  • In this post from the Punch-Out!! fanblog Ask the Ryans, during Glass Joe's interview, behind him you can see Disco Kid posing in front of a mirror and Von Kaiser falling off a treadmill.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles:
    • After Naruto returns to Konoha after being declared KIA during a mission, he learns that Sasuke really missed him during those days where he was presumed dead. With a big smug grin, Naruto takes this opportunity to tease his friend over it, much to Sasuke's annoyance. Soon enough, one panel shows Hinata and Sakura having a discussion, while in the background Sasuke has put Naruto in a headlock while the latter is laughing:
      Naruto: Haha! You missed me!
      Sasuke: Shut up!
    • In the background of page 549 from Chapter 28, there is a woman receiving a ball on the head and getting angry at the kid responsible for throwing it.

    Music Videos 
  • "Alternate Realities": During Rarity's verse, she gives dresses to various ponies... and Smolder.
  • Animusic: In "Starship Groove", whenever the red robot finishes any of his pieces for the song, he wobbles slightly to the rhythm and holds his arms out as if he's pleased with himself.
  • The Axis of Awesome has several in their 4 Chords video:
    • "Benny Sucks" floats in behind Benny during "Hey Soul Sister".
    • The two different Lees notice each other and wave at each other during "Let It Be".
    • During America's Funniest Home Videos, Benny kicks Jordan in the crotch.
    • During the "Take On Me"/"When I Come Around" medley, Lee walks in, still in the Spice Girls costume from the previous bit.
    • Lee holds a flame in his hands during the "Love the Way You Lie" section, then runs through the background while on fire during "It's My Life".
    • Lee plays with the Barbie and plush lion from earlier in the video at the end, making them kiss.
  • The Beatles:
    • In the song "Girl," the word "tit" gets repeatedly chanted in the background of the the middle eight.
    • The video for "Day Tripper". John and Paul sing blissfully with their guitars, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Ringo Starr is destroying parts of the set with a saw. To cap it off, only George notices.
    • A black-and-white performance video of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" has John sitting at the harmonium making goofy faces, sometimes playing one note at a time, and peering mischievously towards the camera, while Paul does his best not to lose his composure.
  • The performance segments of The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" have the camera focused on Joe Jack Talcum with the rest of the band behind him - they spend more time goofing around with each other or trying to interfere with Joe's performance than they do actually miming their instruments. Additionally, Rodney Anonymous doesn't have his bass with him and spends most of the video reading a newspaper note .
  • In the music video for Fall Out Boy's song “Just One Yesterday”, guest singer Foxes decides to climb halfway out of the car she's driving to sing her verse with the wind dramatically blowing her hair. Meanwhile, we see Patrick desperately trying to control the car from the passenger seat.
  • Miserable: Though what precedes it and follows it are more disturbing than funny, after the giant woman eats Kevin Baldes alive right in front of his bandmates, Jeremy can be seen mouthing the F-word during the rest of the band's Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment.
  • Towards the end of *NSYNC's music video for "This I Promise You", the boys are seated at an outdoor cafe and Joey is putting ketchup on his food while the others are singing. And in another shot, Lance and Joey appear to be having a conversation while Justin sings to the camera.
  • Paul Simon: The video for "You Can Call Me Al" has Chevy Chase singing Paul's lyrics with Paul singing the backup vocals. When Paul is doing the penny whistle solo, Chevy drinks a glass of water and places it on what he thinks is an end table, but is actually the stand for a conga drum, which lets the glass of water fall to the floor.
  • Tears for Fears: In the "Head over Heels" music video, there's a scene where two people behind Roland Orzabal are wearing large, bulky gas masks for some bizarre reason — everyone else in the library can breathe the air normally.
  • van Canto:
    • In the news segment in the video for "Badaboom", the news ticker reads "A Storm To Come from dusk till Dawn Of The Brave", referencing two of the band's albums.
    • In Sabaton's practice room in the same video, a van Canto poster can be seen on the wall.
  • Vanity Police's video for "The Things You Don't Mean" has a rather hilarious moment at 1:18 where a kitten walks onto the set in the middle of the video and starts batting at the scenery. You have to wonder who didn't make sure that the cat couldn't get in while they were filming it...
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • His music video for "Smells Like Nirvana" includes in the background among other things a guy on fire, a basketball game, and various people crowdsurfing.
    • The one for "Like a Surgeon" has events like a doctor washing his feet in a sink and a lion casually strolling across the set.

    Print Media 
  • MAD doesn't have a page that isn't scrawled with miniature comics in the margins, footnotes, and assorted other wackiness. In fact, reading these can take up as much if not more time than reading the magazine proper (if such a word can even be said to apply to Mad). The ur-artist of those margin comics is Sergio Aragonés.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Not as frequent as a Meaningful Background Event, which generally occurs when wrestlers run in without any music announcing, but every now and then you have something hilarious going on in the background.
  • Crossed with Noodle Incident: Back in the NWA\WCW in 1989, Teddy Long cut a promo where he said "Norman didn't do it. Don't blame Norman..." while Norman The Lunatic in the background had placed a garbage pail over his head and was tapping it with a hammer.
  • An unintentional one happened at the WWF Free For All (a pre-game show) before the first No Way Out. Vader was being interviewed by Sunny, and near the end, a nearby door opens and Road Warrior Hawk steps out, looks around, and quickly backs away. The look on his face was priceless.
    • Something similar happened on an episode of Raw once during the invasion when The Rock was being interview by Kevin Kelly in front of his "personal dressing room." The door opened and Pat Patterson comes out and quickly goes back in.
  • During the in-ring introductions for the ECW World Television Champion Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match at ECW Living Dangerously, March 1, 1998, a fan in the crowd was able to get a "TAZ FEARS GOLDBERG" sign positioned right above and behind Taz's head.
  • Famously, during a match that ended up backstage between Booker T and Big Show, Triple H and Ric Flair seemingly randomly drove a forklift by the match.
  • While Vince McMahon was doing a walk to his limo (where he would eventually be "killed" in an explosion), you could see him pass by Paul London who, in contrast to the serious mood the production was attempting to set, was visibly trying not to crack up. (This incident was rumored to be why he was fired later.)
  • During La Rosa Negra's defenses of the Ring Warriors Battling Bombshells belt against Santana Garrett, Garrett's manager Fabulous Frank would attempt to run off with the title while while the champ was preoccupied, only to be continually thwarted by Negra's manager, Rhianna Ali.
  • July 7, 2014: During a match between Bo Dallas and El Torito, someone in the crowd yelled, "Motherfucker!" The rest of the crowd starts looking around trying to find who said that.
  • October 20, 2014: Someone in the crowd held up a sign with Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica on it. It has gone viral.
  • Dean Ambrose attacks The Authority and a hotdog cart is involved. During the attack, Randy Orton hides and munches on a hotdog from the cart.
  • Pretty much everything not happening at the commentary was either awesome or hilarious during the six way scramble match at Supercard Of Honor X. Related to this trope were The Boys continually trying to support Dalton Castle while steadily keeping distance between themselves and Taeler Hendrix as she tried seduce them, periodically getting a break when Hendrix would switch targets and attempt to assault Prince Nana. Later during Jay Lethal's title defense against Lio Rush, Taeler Hendrix was playing with Will Ferrara's beard while he was doing commentary.
  • Bayley's entrance involves inflatable tube men. One time, during a tag team match with Sheamus and Cesaro, Sheamus can be seen looking at the tube men in complete disbelief.
  • Sheamus and Gunther had a staredown at the SmackDown a week before Clash at the Castle. Their respective right-hand men, Gunther's Ludwig Kaiser and Sheamus' Butch, meanwhile just beat the daylights out of each other...all while their leaders still stare at each other.

  • Sadly, 99% of the funny background events get edited out of the final versions of AJCO roleplays, but every now and then an observant player will send a screencap into the out of context blog. The best examples tend to feature players abusing Minecraft's weapon and animal naming features.
    • Pi-TEC was slain by A_J using a rather sharp rock I found on the ground
    • All of the Deserters was slain by Krauzer using The State
    • Auditor was slain by A_J using Mother's hand
    • Blue was slain by Krauzer using a sword made of her own teeth
  • Destroy the Godmodder: is full of them. What is relevant to the plot isn't always what attracts the attention of the players...
    • TT2000 recently declared war on Minor's fly armies.
      • Then in the off-topic thread Opel and TT started arguing over how stupid it was.
    • engie and piono introduced each other to their split personalities.
      • Followed by eye rolling and sarcastic remarks from other posters and the forum equivalent of a facepalm from Twinbuilder.
    • Some of the mini-flame wars that occasionally start between the players.
      • Made funnier by the rest of the players telling them to shut up, and once even the godmodder stepping in to shut it down.
  • Faith Testers: Any time Matias's Staff is given any mention in the text 90% of it is funny background events. [1]
    • That little tidbit of text isn't nearly as funny without the context of all of the said staff is female and was fawning over one of the party being yelled at (ie. Miximac)... which caused the mess above to happen.

  • Mixed Martial Arts: During UFC 182, two of Joe Rogan's male comedian friends sitting at cageside waited until they were both on-camera in the background of an ongoing fight and then made out.
  • Happens often in road cycling, on account of the sport largely happening on long stretches of public road.

    Tabletop Games 

  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: After Pseudolus tricks Erronius into running seven times around the seven hills of Rome, Erronius is sometimes seen running in the background of later scenes (making him a literal example of a Running Gag).
  • In at least one Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production of A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge is in the future listening to the businessmen discussing his funeral, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come stands calmly in the background, reading the newspaper.
  • In Wicked, while the focus is on Elphaba, Nessarose makes some fairly hilarious hand gestures when she sings "Munchkin boy". (Poor Boq.)
  • In Haunted by Eric Chappell, the ghost of Lord Byron haunts a writer going through a mid-life crisis. The woman he's having an affair with (another writer) comes in brandishing a newspaper review, which she tells him to read, but says not to look at her quoted age. Byron's ghost, being present at the time and only visible to the protagonist has a great opportunity to look over her shoulder at the review, double-check how old the female writer is, and react with some degree of incredulity.
  • In Pokémon Live!, during the Dark Reprise of "You And Me and Pokemon", Professor Oak is banging on the bars of the cage he's locked in and climbing on them.
    • During "Double Trouble," Giovanni nurses a migraine as Jessie and James sing.
  • In A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, during the last part of the beautiful song "Inside Out," we see Henry D'ysquith helplessly running from the killer bees, lured by a magical dose of English lavender sprayed on the beekeeping helmet, that lead to his tragic demise.

    Theme Parks 
  • Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D has this at least twice. It's fairly obvious that while Dr. Bunsen is explaining his invention, Beaker is getting heavily pounded by said invention. But most viewers of the 3D film are too busy watching Kermit give a tour of the inside of Muppet Labs to notice that in one scene, Scooter and Janice ride across the hallway in the background on a double-seat bicycle. Especially notable since it's one of the very few times you can see Muppets' legs.
  • When Farquaad talks to the guests in the pre-show of Shrek 4D, Thelonius grows curious of the flaming torch he's holding, and attempts to stick his finger in it. The results are what you would expect.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: In Chapter 6, basically all of the audience comments count as this, but special notice goes to one particular commenter who's apparently really horny for Shuichi, and the only thing they comment on is how nice his body looks.
  • In Silver Crisis. there's a scene where Pit is telepathically communicating to Palutena about their newfound knowledge of the Big Bad, Silver and what he could be like. While the conversation goes on, Luigi and Ike's facial expressions in the background get progressively more and more weirded out as they witness what appears to them as Pit becoming more and more ecstatic while talking to himself.

"You're doing fine, Ace!"note 

Alternative Title(s): Background Gags


Spider-Dog and UFO Cat

While Marge has a talk with Lisa about why she'll regret her decision to not go to college, Santa's Little Helper walks past the doorway with robotic spider legs and Snowball II flies past it in a UFO.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / FunnyBackgroundEvent

Media sources: