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Nothing Is Funnier

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There's a lot to laugh about when a funny joke is told. It could be the wordplay, the delivery, the sheer amount of silly puns being thrown rapid-fire, or all manner of things. Jokes are funny, and are a great way to make people laugh.

Sometimes, however, the best comedy is something only the viewer can imagine. For instance, let's say there exists a location called "Big Tit Creek". Sure, you could go into detail, about how the creek was actually named after a large bird of the tit family, but it would be funnier to just let the viewer wonder, "How DID the creek get that name?"

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As Nothing Is Scarier refers to the concept of leaving the object of fear to the viewer to think about, this is leaving things to the imagination of the viewer when it comes to comedy because nothing you could come up with could be funnier than whatever outlandish scenario they thought up. However, the two could still overlap in Black Comedy.

In short, the writer leaves out details, because of Rule of Funny.

Compare and contrast with Worse with Context. Related to Don't Explain the Joke. See also, Take Our Word for It.

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Subtropes include:

  • Ambiguous Criminal History: A character is known to have committed a serious crime, but it's never explained.
  • Ambiguously Trained: The most probable reason why an Inexplicably Awesome character is like that is because he saw military service, but the story refuses to reveal it outright.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Some fights are funnier when left to the imagination.
  • Censored for Comedy: It's so disgusting you can only see vaguely what it looks like behind censor pixels.
  • Clingy Aquatic Life: A character gets out of the water, revealing that sea creatures got stuck to them or inside them somehow.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: You don't need to know what exotic words someone is using to imagine how bad (and funny) it is.
  • Gilligan Cut: "I'm never doing that!" Cut to them doing that. How it happened is better skipped over.
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  • Inanimate Competitor: An inanimate object is involved in a competition somehow. Bonus points if they've apparently done something offscreen.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Stating or implying that a character used profanity, often leaving the exact words to the imagination.
  • Noodle Implements: A bunch of seemingly-outlandish requirements for a task are given, leaving the viewer to imagine their use.
  • Noodle Incident: A mysterious incident constantly referred to but never seen or explained.
  • Offscreen Crash: No writer could come up with a more chaotic scene than your imagination can.
  • Orphaned Punchline: When the end of a joke is told, and the beginning is left for the viewer to try and imagine.
  • Orphaned Setup: The beginning of a joke is told, but the punchline is left out.
  • Relax-o-Vision: Discretion Shot for the purpose of a gag.
  • Stealth Pun: Implying a pun without actually saying it aloud.
  • Subverted Punchline: When a potential bit of wordplay is waved in the audiences' faces and then ignored.
  • That Poor Car: Some big accident happens offscreen, setting off a car alarm, or several car alarms.
  • That Poor Cat: Some big accident happens offscreen, and based on the yowl, a cat was involved somehow.
  • Undisclosed Funds: Take our word for it, this is a lot of money.
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: Something is apparently so unmentionable, the characters have to tell other characters (and the audience) that really, they don't want to know the specifics.

Example subpages:


Examples:

Comic Strips

  • Calvin and Hobbes has its own page on the subject. It's also the trope namer for Noodle Incident. Whatever the aforesaid "noodle incident" was, Calvin would be in all kinds of troble if anyone ever found out it was him. And yet, any particulars of the incident were never addressed. Instead, just bringing up the noodle incident would cause Calvin to immediately go into a panicked defense, insisting that it wasn't him or that no one could prove it, all played for comedy. Comic author Bill Watterson said in the Tenth Anniversary Calvin and Hobbes Collection that he intended to visit what happened the Noodle Incident someday, but eventually talked himself out of it. The reason he never explained what happened during the Noodle Incident was that he decided nothing he could come up with would ever be as funny as anything the readers would be able to come up with in their own minds.

Literature

  • The classic example from Three Men in a Boat is the scene where the hapless characters, who have embarked on an ill-advised and poorly planned boating holiday down the Thames, attempt to open a stubborn sealed can with a tree, as nobody remembered to pack a can-opener; the only details the author provides the reader with are the fact that a straw hat saved the life of one, while another escaped with only minor injuries. The humour comes from the way the author avoids describing exactly what happened and leaves it up to the reader to guess.

Video Games

  • At one point in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Cal asks his robot companion BD-1 for a joke. Thing is, Cal understands BD-1's language while we do not:
    Cal: You, uh, know any jokes, BD?
    BD-1: Be-beep! Boo bee trill beep boo?
    Cal: I dunno. Why?
    BD-1: Boo trill bee boop!
    Cal: Ha! Classic!

Western Animation

  • Chowder: In the episode "Sing Beans," Schnitzel tells a joke that makes Mung crack up, though Chowder's just confused (Mung refuses to explain it, saying Chowder will get it when he's older). Due to Schnitzel's One-Word Vocabulary, the audience has no idea what the joke is, just that it's very dirty, leaving viewers (especially older ones) to fill in the gaps with their own dirty jokes.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: "St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses" has a visual gag involving Star running offscreen in a panic to hide at the mention of St. Olga's. It cuts to a wide shot of the room with Star's legs kicking from beneath a rug… only for Star to emerge from a different location. The second time this happens, Marco questions the legs, but Star's response only raises more questions.
    Marco: What's that under your rug?
    Star: I have no idea, but I do know one thing. Never ever step on it.
  • Green Eggs and Ham (2019): In "There", Gluntz uses a technique to stupefy the Goat, trapping him in what she claims is a happy memory. We're never shown the memory, just the Goat screaming "AAAAAAH! NOOOOOO!"

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