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Rapid-Fire Comedy

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"They're not all funny, but they're in a row."

Don't worry if you missed the joke... a new one will be along any moment.

A style of comedic presentation where a mass of jokes come at the audience in rapid succession in the hope that at least a few of them stick. If the audience doesn't find Joke A all that funny, Joke B is following right on its heels, and if Joke B doesn't cut it, Joke C is right behind that one. Films and TV shows that use this technique are sometimes little more than a string of rapid-fire jokes tied very loosely together through some sort of ultra-thin plotline that no one can be bothered to care about anyway. In other cases, the show will move from one plot to the next almost as fast as the jokes. In short, it's the comedic version of More Dakka.


This is actually a standard comedy strategy (it's commonly referred to in production circles as the "shotgun method"). It's easier to keep the audience laughing than to get the audience laughing. So stand-up comedians will come on stage and immediately ask for a big round of applause for the master of ceremonies, or the previous comedian. Once the audience starts responding, comedians will use their best material to really get the ball rolling. Then they'll throw in odds and sods with enough good jokes to keep things going.

In some cases, this technique can backfire, especially if the rapid-fire comedy interferes with an otherwise dramatic, sad or angsty moment; complaints also can come when the barrage of gags didn't start out as funny and hasn't really become any better by the end of it.

This technique is a possible way to get crap past the radar, since the censors don't have enough time to notice the obscene joke among the dozens of other gags.


This is a Sub-Trope of the Rule of Funny. It's almost guaranteed that the jokes will include a good number of bizarre non-sequiturs. A Super-Trope to Hurricane of Puns, Hurricane of Euphemisms and Breathless Non Sequitur. It may happen to you if you Archive Binge a comedy Webcomic.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Bob Hope was known for this style of comedy, which purportedly burned through writers at an alarming rate.
  • Robin Williams was the Master of Rapid Fire Comedy, often described as the rare performer whose mouth moved as quickly as his brain. Generous portions of his standup routine and movie roles were improvised.
    • His no-brakes verbal speed could get him in trouble, though: Williams swiped jokes from other comedians. He did not do this intentionally. Instead, in his own explanation, the pace at which he improvised meant he did not have time to be sure whether a joke was one he had written or remembered from a colleague's performance — in other words, contrary to the aforementioned praise, his mouth moved faster than his brain. To atone, Williams financially compensated his fellow comedians every time he realized he had inadvertently borrowed their work. Thanks to this the world of stand-up comedy bears him no resentment.
  • One of the highlights of Don Rickles' stand ups was to go around the room trying to "insult" as many people in the audience as he possibly could.
  • Comedian Tim Vine is a former holder of the Guinness World Record for most jokes told in an hour, currently held by perennial Star Search winner Geechy Guy.
  • Despite his trademark slow, deadpan delivery, Steven Wright's stand-up comedy is all about this trope. Virtually every sentence out of his mouth is a punchline.
  • Ben Elton's stand-up act throughout the Eighties was based on this, motor mouthing the gags at twice normal speed. He later lamented the fact that he used up so much good material so quickly.
  • Quite a few George Carlin routines, but "Modern Man" wins the prize for jokes/second ratio.
  • Listening to Dennis Miller is the standup equivalent of MST3k.
  • Jimmy Carr, while he does slow down when he does audience interaction segments, none of his "regular" jokes last more than 15 seconds. The jokes are essentially those lame gags found in Christmas Crackers spiced up a bit and delivered in such a deadpan style that they become funny again.
  • Ken Dodd, teller of quick jokes, has stated several times that he's always after a joke rate of "7 TPM", or seven titters per minute. He once won the Guinness' World Record for this, with 7.14 jokes per minute for three or so hours.
  • Bo Burnham's songs, especially his raps.
  • Mitch Hedberg, oh so much.

    Comic Books 
  • The last few Orient Men comics include a pageful of panels filled mostly with Polish popculture references or puns- on a single subject.
  • MAD, does not have a page without a joke. This includes the table of contents, which inevitably will feature a fake article mixed in with all the real ones. Even with full-page ads, you still have to at least look because there's probably a 50-50 shot that it will actually be yet another MAD parody.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ratchet and Clank follows its tie-in game fairly faithfully, but as a Compressed Adaptation where the deciding factor of if things stayed in or not was how many laughs they thought they could get out of it. Eventually lampshaded by Qwark: when Nefarious complains that his joke wasn't funny, he responds that he has to think up thousands of these things; they can't all be gold.
  • Storks: Though the film knows to slow down for emotional moments, its comedy moments are barrages.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • It's difficult to find an entire page in any Discworld novel that doesn't have some sort of joke or snark, and that's counting the cover and title page.
  • The Jetlag Travel Guides by Tom Gleisner, Rob Sitch and Santo Cilauro: tourist guides to non-existant countries such as Molvania and Phaic Tan. These manage to fit in one or two jokes per paragraph, which including photo captions (and even photos themselves) usually results in at least six jokes every page.
  • Just about every Gordon Korman book ever, but especially "I Want to Go Home".
  • The Louis Sachar novel Dogs Don't Tell Jokes lampshades this trope as the protagonist creates a standup comedy routine for his school's talent show, and then ramps it up to eleven as he ad-libs increasingly offbeat punch lines to one of his jokes during the show.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Police Squad! attempted to replicate the Airplane! feel on television, and for the most part succeeded. Made by Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker
    • In fact it succeeded so well that one executive was concerned their viewers wouldn't be able to keep up with the sheer number of jokes the show told, and it was cancelled after only one short 6 episode season as a result.
  • Most every element of Strangers with Candy is either a satire, farce, or sight gag. Every premise, every line, every gesture and facial expression, every relationship, every setting, nearly every character except maybe Tammy, and most of the decor in every room (Principal Blackman's face is in every other shot at the school). Even a lot of the props are used for witty comebacks.
  • Happy Endings uses this often-usually with 'pile ons'-the characters will go around and all mock one of them in turn, or through breathless non sequiters, or humorous asides in non-humorous statements.
  • The stated intention of The Fast Show. Some of the sketches were little more than "Catchphrase and out". It worked.
  • Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is a proponent of this trope. Between the Amusing Injuries happening on screen, the running commentary, and the nonsensical dubbing, it doesn't let up until you hit a commercial break. MXC actually has one up on other contenders; they do two jokes at once. The action is pure slapstick goodness, and the commentary is about equally funny. It's hard to catch everything.
  • MXC has spawned an Americanized show called Wipeout that follows the premise of MXC with new footage filmed specifically for it.
  • Arrested Development: It's camouflaged, but attention to the background events and subtext makes it become extremely dense. Try to summarize a typical episode of the half-hour show and you'll see.
  • Earlier episodes of 30 Rock (mostly season two, though some fans would argue that the first half of season three held on) operated this way: smart, dense, dadaistic, and somewhat prone to Continuity Lockout, with a minimum of three separate plots per episode.
  • 31 Minutos dropped in this trope. Even in the most educational sketches.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 was built this way. Most of the jokes will sail right over the heads of 90% of the audience — but the 10% that do get the joke will be reeling with laughter from its sheer obscurity. They make up for this disparity by firing off a lot (perhaps around 700 per episode) of obscure jokes, in the hope that the viewer will be one of the 10% that this joke was designed for. As one of the makers once said, "The right people will get it."
    • Kevin Murphy went on record of saying that his strategy was always to keep firing out jokes, because then enough will hit. This carries on to Rifftrax, where the riffs that are just Kevin and Bill have a far higher jokes-per-minute ratio than when Mike is there.
  • Good News Week. Both in Paul's monologues and in the games in general.
  • iCarly: Happens more and more as the show goes into its fourth season. Notable example being the episode iGet Pranky.
  • Exaggerated and lampshaded in Community, when Pierce prepares jokes in advance for viewing the So Bad, It's Good movie, KickPuncher 2
    Pierce: Change! Time to change the channel! This guy'll be begging for change soon, he keeps making movies this terrible! We should change to something good, this movie stinks! We should change his diaper. That's change we can believe in!
    Abed: [Hits pause] Okay, it's obvious something strange is happening here.
    Pierce: What are you talking about? I'm making jokes during a movie.
    Troy: Yeah, but you're doing it with the speed and determination of the incomparable Robin Williams.
  • Childrens Hospital has only an 11 minute running time, so it does its best to pack in as many jokes as possible.
  • The Big Bang Theory rarely goes more than 3 lines without a joke of some sort.
  • Likewise Mr. Young.
  • Letterkenny has Wayne and Daryl do this with most of their insults.
  • Billy on the Street: Due to the format of Billy racing down the street asking people very quick questions in a short amount of time, the comedic moments come very quickly after one another.

  • Eminem's comedy songs (Particularly "My Name Is", "The Real Slim Shady", and "Without Me") are well known for sheer density of jokes, Shout Outs, and Take Thats. Even more so when one factors in the music videos.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic loves this; his songs consist almost entirely of jokes and silliness. White and Nerdy is probably the most extreme example. There's also the numerous effects of the virus in Virus Alert.

  • The Goon Show. On at least one occasion they manage to keep a wild stream of jokes going until the first musical interlude (some seven or more minutes in) without even getting in-character let alone allowing any kind of plot to develop.
  • Hello Cheeky tried to fit as many jokes into a half-hour as possible, with one or two musical interludes every episode. However, since the musical interludes were performed by the regular cast and written humorously, the jokes never actually stopped.
    Man: Waiter! This steak's off!
    Waiter: I'll get its hat and coat, sir.
    Man: Fetch me the manager!
    Waiter: I shouldn't bother, sir, he tastes worse than the steak.
  • Its That Man Again (ITMA) is probably the originator of this style of humour as far as BBC Radio is concerned. It was wildly popular in its day (1939-49) although to modern ears most of the jokes are incomprehensible (a fact that was lampshaded in a 1970s Burkiss Way sketch).
  • A Prairie Home Companion: The Joke Show goes through a lot of jokes in one sitting.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering's Unglued and Unhinged expansions, every card has several in-jokes squeezed onto it. They even put jokes in the legal text on the packaging.
  • Tales of the Arabian Nights features over 2000 story snippets, that are frequently hilarious due to the fortune or peril they cause the player. Its rules emphasizes storytelling, and it's a bigger disappointment to not do something funny on a turn than it is to lose.
  • Nearly every card in Munchkin (and its many spinoffs) features a pun or reference, and even the rulebook itself consistently cracks jokes.

  • Some people — those who have only seen it performed, or only seen the movie version — wonder why Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is so famous. The thing is, the jokes are so rapid-fire that by the time you've had time to get one, five more have rocketed past your head. It's so bewildering that it absolutely kills Suspension of Disbelief. The only way to understand and enjoy a performance of the play is to have read the script enough times to have memorized half the jokes in advance.
  • Older Than Steam: Shakespeare's comedies are exactly the opposite of Earnest — many of the jokes go unnoticed, due to language, culture, and context differences, until you actually see them performed (body language is usually more helpful than any amount of English classes).
  • Shakespeare is made howlingly funnier for most viewers without a special affinity to archaic language in the Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).
  • The audience participation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show has in some parts developed so many extensive routines that the audience talks more than the actors.

    Video Games 
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising features running banter between the main character, his dark palette-swapped rival, and several deities (friend and foe alike) pretty much constantly throughout the course of the game.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People lives on this trope. Considering the setting, though, this really is to be expected.
  • Many of Telltale's games are like this. A good example is the miscellaneous items in Stinky's in the second season of Sam & Max. Not only does every item have its own humorous description, but for the first three episodes, the description changes each episode.
  • Jazzpunk has at least joke for every interactable item. The only downtime is how long it takes you to travel between them.
  • While not spat out at breakneck speed, the title character from the SPY Fox games speaks almost entirely in puns and witty remarks. Every line out of his mouth is a punchline of some sort.

    Web Animation 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School and Dr. Havoc's Diary: Many jokes and gags can happen so quickly at once, in an episode's span of 6-to-12 minutes.
  • Homestar Runner in general but especially Teen Girl Squad.
  • Zero Punctuation. There's enough comedy in one five-minute segment to fill a good-size movie, particularly given that Yahtzee apparently doesn't need to breathe.
    • Yahtzee also discusses this style of comedy as part of his Deadpool review:
      Yahtzee: Family Guy takes the roadkill of comedy, throws it in the middle of the room, and commands us to sit and watch it as it gathers flies and its stench soaks into the carpet, whereas Deadpool understands that the best way to counteract the witlessness of its humour is to keep a fast enough pace that we can't think about it for very long.
  • asdfmovie mixes this with Surreal Humour to hilarious effects.
  • hololive has the official animated shorts Holo no Graffiti which are joke after joke involving the large cast in strange situations.

    Web Comics 
  • This trope is comparatively rare in shorter works like webcomics and newspaper comics, but VG Cats stands out as an example—it often doesn't even have a punchline in the proper sense, ending the strip when it's out of jokes on the subject.
  • Bug Martini uses this format all the time. The most common format for the comic is one panel of set-up and three more panels, each with a mini joke within them. "Pizza Delivery" is a good example of the comic's style, and it even has four mini jokes in it!
  • A number of xkcd comics, such as this one or these two, present large panoramas built around a common theme saturated with jokes for this apparent purpose.
  • The further Hiimdaisy goes, the more jokes in a single issue there are. Case in point: LittleKuriboh's voiceover of Let's Destroy Shagohod (Metal Gear spoilers alert).
  • 8-Bit Theater, like VG Cats, uses a longer form, punchline-less system. On an average strip, every single panel with have a joke in each word-bubble, a joke in the background, a Visual Pun and a joke in the title.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents: With its constant use of running gags and basic jokes, the episodes tend to string them together. In fact, as the seasons went on, the show used this trope more frequently.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants tended to use this a lot in the episode that creator Stephen Hillenberg oversaw. The episodes without him relied more on overly long gags.
  • The Simpsons can sneak up on you like this.
    Mr. Burns: It's as big as a football field and weighs as much as the state of New Hampshire. I only flew it once at an altitude of six feet for a distance of four feet. Then we discovered that rain makes it catch fire. Then the Fuhrer fired me.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar, there are many scenes where literally every line of dialogue is a punchline. Though the target audience will only get about half of them, as the rest is for older siblings or parents.

Alternative Title(s): Comedy Through Superior Firepower, Saturation Comedy