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Lampshade Wearing

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Some inanimate objects just can't hold their liquor.
(Source) Used with permission.

"I left Cleveland to get away from His and Her towels, people who call cocktail parties 'pours' and the guy who always breaks it up by wearing a lampshade on his head."
TIME Magazine article on actor Jim Backus, December 15, 1958.

A person getting drunk enough at a party to wear a lampshade as a hat.

It's hard to pin down the origin of this trope. One theory is that the guys get drunk enough to mistake lamps for hat racks; other theories are collected on this web page. The idea of a drunk wearing a lampshade goes back to at least 1945 in the U.S. - and probably even earlier (another article dates it to 1928). If that's true, this trope could be Older Than Television. It has also been suggested that this originated as a piece of "dirty" physical comedy: the man puts on the lamp-shade, exposes himself, and asks for someone to "turn him on" using his "switch".

Regardless, the overused nature of it has turned it into a Dead Horse Trope. It's uncommon to find examples nowadays that aren't parodies of this.

Sometimes the lampshade wearer will say that they're feeling light-headed.

The same effect is sometimes achieved with a traffic cone, though in reality they tend to be too wide and heavy to be practical as headwear. Add to that the fact that they have to be drunk enough to consider stealing the cone in the first place, so cone wearers tend to be drunker than lampshade wearers.

Note, there is another reason you may see someone with a lampshade on their head: the Rule of Funny use as a Paper-Thin Disguise, in order to pretend to be a lamp. This has nothing to do with being drunk.

A third reason is as legitimate Improvised Clothes, when someone really needs to hide their hair or face (often because Our Nudity Is Different) and their hat was stolen. This also usually has nothing to do with being drunk, although it may have something to do with swimming.

A Sister Trope to Necktie Headband (what a Japanese Salaryman will do instead).

Not to Be Confused with Lampshade Hangingnote .


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Person Formerly Known as Taro Sekiutsu in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei sold his name to an immigrant, and now lives in a cardboard box in the streets, wearing a lampshade as a mask. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei also does its fair share of lampshade hanging.
  • Millie does this in Trigun.

  • On one of George Carlin's stand-up albums, he claims that doing impressions of Ed Sullivan is replacing wearing the lampshade at parties.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In Doonesbury, Mark Slackmeyer is bartending a college reunion, and an attendee comes up to the bar wearing a lampshade... before the party has even begun.
  • A The Far Side cartoon with three teenagers on a couch, surveying a living room which they have obviously carefully tidied, moments before the parents come home... "Play it cool," says one, "they'll never know we've been partying." The deception would be perfect if they were not all three wearing lampshades.
  • One FoxTrot strip had Jason admonishing his parents for napping on New Year's Eve, telling them to live it up. In the last panel, they've donned lampshades...and are still sleeping. Jason gives up on them.
  • Garfield:
    • It's definitely appeared in a few different strips, such as the December 31, 1989 strip (which got made into a Garfield Quickie on Garfield and Friends) and the December 29, 2006 strip. Garfield being a cat though, he isn't drunk — he's just a party animal.
    • It's a prominent recurring feature in The Garfield How to Party Book by Jim Davis.
  • Leroy from The Lockhorns has been shown letting loose at a cocktail party via this trope.
  • In Peanuts, Snoopy and Spike have worn lampshades on a couple of occasions.
  • One Retail strip has Marla dealing with a customer who complains about paying sales tax on a lampshade because "there's no tax on clothing". When she questions this, he puts it on his head and shouts "I'M THE LIFE OF THE PARTY!"

    Fan Works 
  • In J'adore by BikerPon3, under the disguise category:
    Throwing himself down on the couch, he rested one leg on the coffee table, his eyes glazing over. His gaze eventually ended up settling on a life-sized alicorn lamp, complete with multi-hued flowing mane and tail, and a long spiralling white horn poking out from the top of the shade.
    Wait… He didn’t have an alicorn lamp. Anything related to alicorns was often expensive.
    Striding over to the corner, he plucked the dusty old lampshade from Celestia’s head. “For God’s sake, what are you doing here?”
  • Sora, Donald, and Goofy invoke this in Sora and the Princess of Power by bringing lampshades to the Princess Prom.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Father Goose - a movie about a commander having to take care of a school teacher and her students had a scene in which the teacher accidentally got drunk because of a mistaken belief she was bitten by a snake (long story). He led the rather prim woman to believe she did dance naked with a lampshade on her head.
  • In Hot Fuzz one of the teens Sergeant Angel arrests for being drunk and disorderly is wearing a traffic cone on his head.
  • ' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III:
    • No alcohol involved, but Master Splinter does this to cheer up Michelangelo.
    "Just like Elvis in Blue Hawaii."
    • Michelangelo himself had done the same thing earlier.

  • Lords and Ladies puts it in an interesting context:
    "There are no delusions for the dead. Dying is like waking up after a really good party, when you have one or two seconds of innocent freedom before you recollect all the things you did last night which seemed so logical and hilarious at the time, and then you remember the really amazing thing you did with a lampshade and two balloons, which had them in stitches, and now realize you're going to have to look a lot of people in the eye today and you're sober now and so are they but you can both remember."
  • Played for Laughs in The Trials of Apollo, where the hat-loving troglodytes make Will Solace wear one due to his ability to glow in the dark.
  • One of the students in Wayside School is Falling Down raises a theory that Mrs. Jewls lets Myron do whatever he wants because Myron has a picture of Mrs. Jewls wearing a lampshade, and threatened to show it to the principal unless she allowed him to break the rules. One of the other students then asks how the principal would recognize Mrs. Jewls if a lampshade covered her face.
  • Roy Blount Jr's 1984 comic essay "What to Do on New Year's Eve - II" discusses this:
    "I have seen people do almost everything at a party: fall down, get naked, fight, start fires, climb out of windows, and put big wet slices of warm roast beef down each other's backs. But I have never seen anybody put a lampshade on his or her head.
    "Try it, and you'll see why. A lampshade has prongs that don't fit the human head (might fit a cat's, but a cat would hate it), and there are dead moths in there. Stuck to the sides. But not stuck very securely. You could breathe one into your nose."
  • In S. J. Perelman's Westward Ha!, the humorist documents his travelling around the world on various ships. At one point in midocean, one of his fellow passengers produces a lampshade to wear, leading Perelman to speculate the woman lugged the thing all the way along in her luggage solely so she could do so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House: Near the end of "Lost Thing", Treelo wants Bear and his friends to play hide and seek with him as a way to help them find Snowbear, Ojo's missing teddy bear. Treelo wears a lampshade as a means of posing as a lamp, but Bear still finds him because he hears his laugh.
  • On an episode of Between the Lions the computers in the library get infected by a virus. After Lionel runs the antivirus software it destroys the virus and then restores everything that was on the computers, including some New Year's Eve pictures of Theo wearing a lampshade on...something. We don't know what because Lionel cuts off his own sentence in surprise.
  • This was the basis for one of the physical challenges on Double Dare - one partner would have to find poker chips in a bowl of dip and throw them to his partner, who was required to catch them with the lampshade serving as a blindfold.
  • Father Ted wears a lampshade in one episode - not out of drunkenness, but to impersonate a stereotypical Chinaman. (How was he to know that there were three Chinese people observing him through the window?)
  • An episode of Feral TV involved the cast having acquired a large stash of lampshades, which they naturally put on their heads and used as 'helmets' for a Power Rangers spoof.
    • Mighty Dorky Power Whingers!
  • Invoked in the "Nehru and Jinnah" skits on Goodness Gracious Me, about Nehru and Jinnah's days in an English university where the other students would engage in drunken parties that ended with them wearing traffic cones on their heads and their pants around their ankles.
  • Greg the Bunny once wore a lampshade while drunk at a funeral (long story) and... well... lampshaded it.
  • In one episode of Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie does this and stands behind a chair—not because he's drunk, but to disguise himself as a floor lamp. Surprisingly enough, it works.
  • In M*A*S*H, when Winchester thought he had an accidental marriage, there are pictures (which the audience never sees) of him doing just this.
  • On Elke Sommer's episode of The Muppet Show, Beaker sticks a lampshade on his head to hide from Bunsen and get out of testing a diesel shaver on Muppet Labs. Even though his lab coat is still clearly visible, and he makes noises right behind them, Bunsen and Kermit are completely fooled and think Beaker is missing. Later, Beauregard finds Beaker and tries to plug him in, which makes his eyes light up as he shrieks and makes a run for it (though he appears fine later in the episode).
  • Referenced in Mythbusters:
    Adam: (to Jamie) I know I'm drunk, but I can't even remotely tell that you're drunk. It's kind of annoying. I want to see you put a lampshade on your head or something.
  • Michael Scott in the The Office (US) episode "Christmas Party" wears a lampshade at one point during the episode, likely drunk.
  • Pixelface: Alexia wears a lampshade on her head while attempting to 'vanish' in "Fool's Gold". Claireparker is not fooled, but some of the other inhabitants of the Console are.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode The Last Day, Lister somehow wakes up wearing a traffic cone ("On a mining ship, 3 million years into deep space") after a night of drunken revelry. Cat Hand Waves it by saying "It's not a good night unless you get a traffic cone.note  It's the policewoman's helmet and suspenders I don't understand."note 
  • In one episode of Three's Company, Jack Tripper hides from another character in the dark apartment by putting a lampshade on his head and pretending to be a lamp. In another, he gets drunk at a party and dances around the room with a potted plant on his head.
  • On an episode of Zoboomafoo, Zoboo puts a lamp shade over his head mistaking it for a headlamp which one of the brothers tells him is needed to see in the dark.

  • The Bob and Tom Band's song, "It's Christmas and I Wonder Where I Am", set to the tune of "Winter Wonderland", is told in the perspective of a man who gets drunk on Christmas; this is one of his many antics:
    "A lampshade! Isn't that the best?"
  • The Irish Rovers' song "Wasn't That a Party?" has a variant of this trope.
    "Someone took a grapefruit and wore it like a hat."
  • Jellyfish mentions someone as wearing a "lampshade crown of thorns" in the lyrics of "Joining A Fan Club".
  • Motörhead's "I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)":
    "Overkill, walk the line
    Kill the lights, it's lampshade time"
  • Brad Paisley's "Alcohol", sung from the POV of alcohol itself, contains the line "And I'll bet you a drink or two / That I can make you / Put that lampshade on your head." Deconstructed in the music video, where "Little" Jimmy Dickens walks onscreen and dons a lampshade in the most deliberate fashion.
  • The Replacements' "Swingin' Party":
    "Bring your own lampshade
    Somewhere there's a party"



    Video Games 
  • Magical Fox from Card City Nights is depicted this way.
  • From Full Throttle, while Ben is looking at a photo:
    Ben: Are you the guy with the lampshade on his head, or the guy chugging out of the punch bowl?
    Quohog: Lampshade.
  • The Pißwasser TV commercial in Grand Theft Auto IV shows, among the images of several drunk consumers, a man walking around Liberty City with a street cone in his head.
  • Kingdom of Loathing: Traffic cones were available as hats for the first few celebrations of Sneaky St. Pete's Day, after adventuring while drunk enough:
    This is a big cone of bright orange plastic. You have no recollection of how or where you got it, but it's like I always say — it's not a good night unless you end up with a traffic cone!
  • Living Books: In The Cat in the Hat, if you click on what appears to be a lamp on Page 11, the Cat removes the lampshade to reveal the Purple Bird wearing it.
    Purple Bird: Guess it wasn't too bright to try being the light!
  • Roblox has several lampshade-themed hats in a variety of colors and styles.
  • Saints Row 2 has a lampshade wearable as a hat. Drunkenness is optional.
  • In The Sims 2, a Sim with the Pleasure aspiration will put on a lampshade and start dancing (wasting your time and theirs) if their aspiration level gets too low.
  • In Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers, Sylvester can hide under a lampshade so he can pose as a lamp to avoid being spotted by Granny. If he does this for too long, though, he will get electrocuted.


  • The TV Tropes logo wears one, although whether it's drunk or not is up to opinion.

    Web Video 
  • In The Muppets' version of "Jungle Boogie", Sam the Eagle is wearing a lampshade and waving glowsticks at one point (at another he's got a Necktie Headband and beads). He is seemingly drunk on the boogie rather than actually drunk, until it turns out the whole skit is in his imagination after a few too many mai tais.
  • The Scott The Woz episode "History of Nintendo Switch (NX) Rumors and Leaks" opens with Scott wearing a lampshade on his head, after attending a so-called "leak party" the night before.
    Scott: This lamp didn't stand a (bleep) chance.

    Western Animation 
  • Non-alcohol example with Bashful in The 7D. When Goldilocks steals his hat, Bashful goes into a panic looking for something to cover his exposed face with and finds a lampshade.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • In one episode, one of the many teenagers at a party at the Delightful Children's mansion does this.
    Teenager: Hey, I'm a lamp! Get it?
  • In Danny Phantom this happen at the party in "Bitter Reunions" with one guy who was bouncing around with a lampshade on his head.
  • In the Detentionaire episode "Friday Night Bites", when the partygoers become mind-controlled and Lee Ping commands them to "go crazy", one guy puts a lampshade on his head.
  • Spanky Ham from Drawn Together, in the first episode.
  • The Flintstones: Fred does this whenever drunk.
  • In one Freakazoid! episode, the villains are at a party for Freakazoid's imminent doom. Invisibo wears a lampshade so you can tell where he is.
  • In Futurama a scientist is shown wearing a lampshade on his head while partying in "Anthology of Interest II".
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the short "Norman Normal" (1968) there's a character who wears a lampshade while droningly saying "Approval" over and over.
    • One of the drunken cats in "Trap Happy Porky" (1945), belting out "On Moonlight Bay" (natch) also wears a lampshade.
    • In one of Chuck Jones' 'Three Bears' cartoons, Junyer inadvertently electrocutes his Paw, then gets the idea to plug two lightbulbs in the dazed Paw's ears (and they light up!) then places a lampshade over his head. Mama anxiously says "Henry - what will the neighbors think?"
  • A non-alcohol example is invoked in "Party Down" from The Loud House. Lori's father suggests that she have a wild party when he brings her some props and says that "nothing brightens up a party like a lampshade on the head". Lori references that she's seventeen and she instead wants a "sophisticated party". In the end, Lori's party turns into a (very mild) Wild Teen Party, complete with a boy wearing the lampshade prop. Lori's parents end up proud of her as they think teens are meant to have energetic parties.
  • In the episode "Madeline and the Big Cheese" of the Madeline animated series, Danielle and Madeline has to come up with an impromptu way to lull Lord Cucuface to sleep so... well, see the summary.
    Madeline: Psst, Danielle, you be the queen.
    Danielle: Me? Queen who?
    Madeline: (thinks) AHA! (Puts lampshade over Danielle's head) Queen Lampshade!
    Danielle: Fine, and you be Princess Drapery!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the first episode, Spike is wearing a lampshade when he comes to invite Twilight back to a party she ran out of. He's a child, though, so no alcohol was implied.
    • In "Ponyville Confidential", Pinkie Pie is photographed wearing a lampshade while dancing in a punch bowl, as part of a newspaper story about how she is an out-of-control party animal.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Bummer Jobs", Cecil is hiding from Squidward so he doesn't have to pay for his newspaper subscription. When Squidward sees him through the window, Cecil puts a lampshade over his head to disguise himself. It doesn't work.
  • The Simpsons: Homer often wears one when drunk.
    • In "Homer and Apu" Barney is seen at Monster Mart purchasing oil drum sized keg of beer and Pepto-Bismol and asks a lady (actually a human sized Miss Maple syrup dispenser) where the lamp shades are at, implying he plans on wearing them in the near future.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Patrick comes home in one ("Rock-A-Bye Bivalve") when he arrives home at midnight saying, "That was some party!" when he was supposed to come home earlier and help SpongeBob with the baby scallop/clam (long story).
    • Oddly enough, in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", SQUIDWARD wore one of these... TWICE. Judging by his expression, even Larry was impressed by this particular move... TWICE.
    • Gary also does it in another episode ("Party Pooper Pants", a.k.a. "SpongeBob's House Party"), and SpongeBob is still able to pull the chain attached to the shade and turn off the light.
  • A non-alcohol (and by extension, non-party) example occurs in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow". When Buster tries to get the keys to unlock the cages and rescue Elmyra's captive pets without waking Elmyra up, he accidentally breaks Elmyra's lamp. When she wakes up, he puts the lampshade on his head to pose as her lamp. Cue Elmyra turning Buster on and his skull being exposed.
  • One episode of Xiaolin Showdown involves the Ring of Nine Dragons, which spits a person into up to nine copies of themself, unfortunately also dividing intelligence among them. When Jack Spicer gets his hands on it, we see one of his clones with a lampshade on his head.

    Real Life 
  • Kinda played with in this Threadless t-shirt design involving various major figures in communism having a party.
  • Seen on a Japan Airlines animated pre-flight safety message detailing the impact of altitude on the effects of alcohol. Where the guy got the lampshade from at 30,000 feet is anyone's guess.

Alternative Title(s): Wearing A Lampshade On Your Head