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So Unfunny, It's Funny

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"I can't tell if this is the world's worst joke or the world's best riddle."

There's nothing like a good joke. And the humor these characters are known for is nothing like a good joke.

A character or show whose jokes are so bad, and whose sense of humor is so trite, corny, and childish that — paradoxically — you can't help but laugh at it. Usually includes some examples of Don't Explain the Joke. In English slang, this type of joke is commonly called a "groaner" or "dad joke" (the latter because jokes like this are the bread and butter of a Bumbling Dad's awkward attempts at humournote ). Other languages also have words for this phenomenon: for instance, in Indonesian, a joke that's So Unfunny It's Funny is called a jayus. When the effect was unintentional, it's like a Narm moment, but for something that was supposed to be funny.

Often, this will be Played for Laughs when a show includes a wisecracking character whose jokes always fit this trope, or a horrible comedy as a Show Within a Show. In these cases, it's a form of Stylistic Suck.

However, when an entire show fits this trope, it's probably unintentional. Note that this is rare; it's said that while most genres, badly done, become comedies; bad drama, bad sci-fi, bad horror, etc. can all become targets of audience mockery or So Bad, It's Good, but a bad comedy by definition fails at being funny. Failing so hard you succeed is a rare gift. A common variety is to have something overloaded with so many bad funnies at the end you are laughing for some reason.

Closely related to (and often a component of) So Bad, It's Good. Often related to Cannot Tell a Joke. Compare and contrast Anti-Humor, where the conventions of comedy are defied on purpose. Not to be confused with The Comically Serious (formerly known as "The Unfunny"). Sort of like Crosses the Line Twice, only with (lack of) humor instead of offensiveness.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Izumi of Martian Successor Nadesico has her character based entirely around this trope, until you find out her backstory.
  • King Kai from Dragon Ball Z has this trope as his shtick. Not one of his jokes are legitimately funny, and that's the joke. One joke in the English dub of Kai, however ("They should call him SLOW-KU!") is VERY funny if you read it as a dig at the original DBZ's notoriously slow pace.
  • A fairly common source of humor in One Piece, though this is especially the case with Brook. You will laugh at his Skull Jokes, the lamer the better.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The only thing funnier than how unfunny Gyro Zeppeli's bad "gags" are is the genuine amusement Johnny Joestar reacts to them with.
  • The Afterschool Alleyway Alliance in Carnival Phantasm is essentially a trio of normally-Out of Focus characters trying to win the audience's attention by performing onstage and telling a bunch of rapid-fire routines that all follow the exact same format. It's one of those times where you can tell they've been practicing very hard on it and mastered the ability to turn in-time and say their catchphrase... but tragically haven't worked out a good joke.

  • Neil Hamburger has spent his career pretending to be what may be the world's worst comedian.
  • The comedian Edward Aczel pretty much does a show in character as a terrible comedian.
  • Chris Rock has made fun of Dead Horse Tropes in black comedy by taking on stereotypical "terrible black comedian" characters in his shows and books.
  • Andy Kaufman had this as his primary shtick. First he would do a bunch of terrible impressions ("And now, my impression of American President Jimmy Carter. I am American President Jimmy Carter. Thank you.") until people got so upset that they started walking out, and then he would launch into what was considered one of the best Elvis Presley impressions of all time (when he was alive, Elvis himself stated that it was his favorite).
  • Norm Macdonald's earned this reputation during The Roast of Bob Saget. In reaction to the other hosts, many of whom relied on sheer vulgarity to stand apart, Norm's bit consisted of nothing but squeaky-clean, outdated jokes. The audience didn't like it, but all the comedians there were dying.
    Norm: There are times when Bob has something on his mind...when he wears a hat! No thoughts, just a hat.
    Norm: Bob, you have lot of well-wishers here tonight, and a lot of them would like to throw you down one...a well. They wanna murder a well. Which seems a bit harsh. But that's what it says here on this cue card.
    • The deliberately-terrible jokes didn't get funny until Norm started explaining them, as in the above examples (the ones from the first half of the act were simply read off the cue cards, followed by an awkward pause, followed by the next joke).
    • Even in his regular stand-up act, much of Norm's comedy gets its punch from this. His stand-up routines regularly start as garden-variety observational humor with clear set-ups and punchlines, only to devolve into a string of baffling non sequiturs when he seemingly gets so lost in his comedic impressions that he forgets what he was making fun of.
    • This actually negatively impacted his career on SNL and led to his dismissal by NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer (see Live-Action TV below); while a big part of the problem was his love of very blunt O.J. Simpson jokes (Don and O.J. were good friends), Norm commented once or twice that his getting fired for the excuse of "not being funny" was justified in a business sense, as there were many nights when his Weekend Update material fell flat because the audience was unreceptive, and executives only gauge comedy by the audience's reaction.
  • Similarly, in the James Franco roast, Andy Samberg did unfunny jokes that were either lame or wound up attacking himself more than the target, complimenting the dais while claiming he was brutally roasting them. The audience laughed, but the comedians were nearly passing out.
  • The Smothers Brothers attempt to be the most dysfunctional folk singers ever.
  • Jay London (who competed on Last Comic Standing) has an act of half horrible one-liners; half apologizing. ("I work at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I'm in the 'Beyond' department. I'm sorry. It's almost over.")
  • The late Bill Hicks was an absolute master of this, and seemed to delight in telling jokes that his audience absolutely hated. Joe Rogan told a story about how Hicks once reacted to an indifferent crowd by launching into an impression of the Devil shitting out Geraldo Rivera that mostly consisted of strained groaning noises. This gag went on for five long minutes and drove half the audience out the doors, but nearly killed his fellow comedians in the back.
  • From the Philippines, good ol' fashioned Andrew E. His movies are laugh-inducing, yes. But the jokes used, no, the more you think about them.
    • For an example, in his movie Rubberman, he, as the titular "super-hero", sees a girl crying over a cat stuck on a tree (pretty standard fare for your average hero). When he does save the cat, upon giving it to the girl, we get this very illogical exchange (translated for your convenience):
    Girl: Rubberman, I'm sorry, but I do not own this cat.
    Rubberman: If that is not your cat, then why are you crying?
    Girl: I was crying because I feel pity over it.
  • Deadpan radio satirists Bob & Ray often pursued aggressively unfunny material to its logical limit and beyond, as a way of "seeing what [they] could get away with." Notable examples include the fifteen-minute, multi-show "Bulgarian Cream Pie" bit and an instance of a grouchy Bob Elliott playing intentionally annoying music because he had to broadcast alone on Christmas Day.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Creeping Terror includes a host segment featuring Mike Nelson testing for the "sweet spot" on his custom audio system by listening to one of the film's tedious songs. For a very long time.
  • This has been parodied on the aftermath of Pretzel Guy's seemingly disturbing entrance into the orange M&M on the M&M's Pretzel minisite, where he is a stand-up comedian who is sick of being inside a chocolate candy, and his jokes are intentionally unfunny, yet they can be jeered or cheered.
    Pretzel Guy: You people laugh at anything.
  • This is Tom Green's schtick. Well, at least for "The Bum Bum Song". It's so incredibly stupid it's hilarious.
  • Mitch Hedberg was a notoriously casual performer, mixing in half-finished and unfunny jokes right beside legitimately brilliant and hilarious one-liners. The juxtaposition made the bad ones even funnier.
    "I have a sweet tooth *scattered laughter* I think I messed something up with that last joke. I apologize."
    • Mitch invoked this trope in one of his CDs. After telling a terrible joke, he informed the audience that he was going to take a sound clip of them laughing at one of his better jokes and insert it at the end of the bad joke, so that people would be wondering what was wrong with the audience.
  • An American, pretending to be a German, comedian on Evening at the Improv once started his act this way (before moving on to a more earnest performance):
    (paraphrasing): We Germans have a reputation for being too strict and orderly to be funny. Tonight, I hope to prove that wrong. *beat* Joke number one: ...
    • At the end of his act he drops the accent and introduces himself by his real name. He was on one of Jerry Lewis' MD telethons more than twenty years ago. Jerry had chanced upon his act and asked him to perform on the telethon because he (Jerry) was completely taken in by it and was so surprised he was almost shocked by the reveal.
  • Tim Heidecker of Tim & Eric takes this to the point that most audiences don't know whether they should laugh. He purposefully messes up his jokes and reads from notecards.
    "And the woman behind- the bitch behind the counter says, 'No, is Pepsi okay?' and I say, 'No! If I had wanted Coke- if I had wanted Coke- I mean, Pepsi, I would have ordered one! Thank you.'"
  • George Carlin was not above a little self-deprecation, and knew how to take a joke that either wasn't funny to start with or simply tried to milk the punchline too much and turn it around into something beautiful. For instance, after going into excessive detail about the process of picking scabs, a MAGAZINE and entire sub-culture devoted to it, with the audience having gone from gross-out laughter to scattered, nervous laughter, he pauses, and simply states "I sense I've gone too far," and that he'll just move on to the next joke. Everyone loses it again.
  • Richard Herring does a (hilarious) routine about being jaded of making audiences laugh after twenty years on the comedy circuit and how he's trying to challenge himself by not being funny.
  • Eddie Izzard's famous "Death Star canteen" routine derives a lot of its humor from Izzard's intentionally terrible Darth Vader impression, and from him acting like he's never seen a Star Wars movie in his life. It could have been a mildly amusing bit about Darth Vader arguing with a cafeteria worker, but it's made into a hilarious piece of absurdist comedy by Izzard making Vader sound like a mildly irate British man, and making the Death Star look like a boring British office building.
    • His take on the Four Yorkshiremen skit probably counts as well, deriving some of its humour value from how the three comedians (Izzard, Vic Reeves and Harry Enfield) have clearly seen the skit a million times and can quote it verbatim, and therefore improvise and/or ham up every line to spice things up a bit, plus having a straight man (Alan Rickman) who had never seen it before and was simply pushed on-stage with a script.
  • Bill Bailey would begin stand up shows with a selection of non-jokes, delivered in a rambling can't-be-bothered fashion:
    Three men walk into a bar. One of them was a little bit stupid. And the whole scene unfolded with a tedious inevitability.
    Three blokes go into a pub. Something happens. The outcome was hilarious!
  • Joe Pera's entire act hinges on his awkward delivery, long pauses and dry persona. His [adult swim] special is called Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep, which is simultaneously a comedy and a sleeping aid, and can be successful at both.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King (1994):
    • This is the main appeal of Timon's character. His jokes are so lame you can't help but chuckle- this was intentional of course.
      Pumbaa: What's eating you, kid?
      Timon: Nothing, he's at the top of the food chain! Hahaha!!! The food chain! Ha ha ha ha... [realizes that his joke has failed]
    • And later:
      Simba: What's a motto?
      Timon: Nothing. What's a motto with you?
    • Shenzi and Banzai also get a few of these earlier on.
      Banzai: I'll having whatever's lion around.
      Shenzi: Wait, I've got one — make mine a cub sandwhich.
  • From Up:
    Dug: Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says "I forgot to store acorns for winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.
  • Marlin from Finding Nemo starts out at this, hideously butchering a joke he tries to tell to the other parents. The commentary track on the DVD has Albert Brooks explain how he went about making this joke so unfunny, making it even more awesome.
  • Rio: "I feel free as a bird!" "But you really are a bird."
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles tries to save face when caught sneaking into Physics class late by making a joke on the theory of relativity. Gwen laughs a little, but from the awkward silence from the class and not the joke itself.
  • In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Marty tries to prove his worth in the circus with attire described in the lyrics to what goes down as "Circus Afro" and belting out a song consisting of "Circus", "Afro", "polkadot" and "da-da"s to the tune of "Entry of the Gladiators", in what must be stressed is a grating, obnoxious voice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Much of Borat's humor fits this trope, especially the "NOT!" jokes.
  • From Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy:
    Wes: I didn't know the Salvation Army was having a sale. [laughs] Am I right? Am I right? I mean, look at these guys!
    Brick: Hey, where did you get those clothes? At the toilet... store?
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Phoebe tells the goofiest jokes with such charm and zeal they actually become sorta funny.
  • Iron Man 2:
    Justin Hammer: Well, the press is going to have a new problem... They're going to run out of ink! [Beat] Introducing...
  • Seltzer and Friedberg. Not so much their humor, as the concept of their careers.
  • Almost all of the humor in North is this (if it isn't Dude, Not Funny!), with bad Puns such as, "Your honor, the defense rests! (spoken when the defendants are literally in a coma)" or "The only barren spot on this island... is [my wife] Mrs. Ho."
  • From Shaolin Soccer: the Kung Fu Hao Yeah song? So awful... yet so hilarious.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist: "What do you get when you cross an owl with a bungee cord? My ass."
  • Much of Judd Apatow's material can be seen as this. Many of the more memorable scenes in the three movies he's directed so far are long, incredibly self-conscious and frequently juvenile monologues or conversations about movies, food and genitalia. However, he has said that he treats comedy as a deep form of expressive art, made clear in his book, "I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All".
  • Halfway through The Sixth Sense, Malcolm tries to get his patient Cole to ease up by performing a magic trick where he claims to move a coin from his hand to his shirt pocket, etc. Problem is, he never takes the coin out of either spot, he just taps the spot and claims the coin moved there. It actually works and convinces Cole that he has nothing to fear from Malcolm. Later Cole is seen doing the same trick to another kid, who just dismisses it as "stupid."
  • Star Wars Rogue One, Vader Force chokes Director Krennic for begging for The Emperor's attention then delivers the biggest Dad Joke in Star Wars.
    Vader: Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.
  • Mr. Sir's story in The Film of the Book Holes.
    Mr. Sir: Once upon a time there was a magical place where it never rained. The end.
  • In Annie Hall, Annie cracks up like mad as she tells what's supposed to be a true story about a narcoleptic who died abruptly. It serves to show a stark difference between her and Alvy.
  • Bicentennial Man has Andrew's attempt at making the Martin family laugh. He's a robot who's only recently learned of the concept of humor, so his comedy routine consists of a rapid fire stream of lame jokes with no thought put into comedic timing, delivery, or even making sure the jokes are appropriate for the audience. Despite this, the Martins still end up laughing at his jokes (the laughter is genuine on the actors' part, as the jokes were unscripted and improvised by Robin Williams).
  • Coming to America ends with Saul telling a long, drawn-out joke.
    Saul: "'Will you just taste the soup?!' 'All right, I'll taste the soup. Where's the spoon?'", Ah-ha! (chuckles) Ah-ha!
    (everybody glares at him)
    Saul: Whaddya know from funny, ya bastards?
  • A good chunk of the later career of Leslie Nielsen was based on taking jokes that would have been painful in the hands of any other actor, and managing to sell them by virtue of delivering them in a fashion that seems unclear if he's aware they're jokes. The most famous of these is likely Airplane!'s "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."
    Seanbaby: Some of the jokes he saves in The Naked Gun movies should be verified by the Catholic church as miracles. For example, he once looked up a woman's dress, told her she had a nice beaver and he was talking about a taxidermy prop. If he can make that hilarious, surely you have to consider him for comedic sainthood.

  • Jack Aubrey in the Aubrey-Maturin series makes a lot of terrible puns, and often gets them wrong since he's an inveterate Malaproper, but he delights so much in his own jokes that it's hard not to laugh with him.
  • "Jokes that have never produced laughter" from The Areas of My Expertise. It's even better on the audiobook, where you hear Paul Rudd read them.
  • Granny Weatherwax's attempts to tell jokes in the Discworld series.
    "So he said 'Get me an alligator sandwich — and make it quick!'"
    • There's also the clowns and jesters of the Ankh-Morpork Fools' Guild, whose grim dedication to tired old gags and jokes and reflexive inability to resist an obvious set-up make them objects of scorn and pity.
  • Kurt Tucholsky, German satirist (in Weimar Republic times) has his farce "Ein Ehepaar erzählt einen Witz" ("A married couple tells a joke").
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, this is Ahrek's specialty, alongside being a Pungeon Master.
    Daylen: Yeah, I've seen the world.
    Ahrek: I should think so, You're looking at it right now.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Gutbusters, an extremely old board game that Grampa often forces his grandsons to play when they stay over. The game’s rules are simply that the last to laugh wins. However, the game was made several decades ago and none of the jokes make sense to anybody from after Grampa’s generation, so Greg nearly always wins. The sole “joke” we hear sets the tone.
    Greg: [reading a card] Putting economic policy before fiscal responsibility is like putting the cart before the horse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock leans heavily on this in the TGS with Tracy Jordan portions of the show, being basically written as all the worst Saturday Night Live skits compiled into a single series. Recurring ones have included Diaper Chicken, Pam the Overly Confident Yet Morbidly Obese Woman, Prince William and Prince: Time-Traveling Fart Detectives, The Star Jones Gastric Bypass Cooking Show, and Robot Versus Bear. The forced catchphrases, dated references to current events, Vulgar Humor leaning heavily on stereotypes, and some of the clumsiest slapstick you've ever seen all help make the show infinitely funnier than it would be if it were actually meant to be competent.
  • The Unknown Comic on The Gong Show did this deliberately. Watch him here.
  • The Good Place: Michael's roast of Team Cockroach barely even attempt to be jokes and are mainly just insults in the vague shape of jokes. So why does the scene still end up making us laugh? Because of just how terribly unfunny they are.
  • Mr. Baggy Pants on Remote Control was supposed to be this, intentionally. He was a guy who looked and acted like a flat stand-up comic, and told the set-up of really lame joke, but left out the punchline; the contestant having to guess what it was.
  • The regular "Joke of Death" on Shooting Stars. Vic's hackneyed joke would fall always completely flat, triggering howling winds, tolling bells and tumbleweed.
  • Sarah Silverman on The Sarah Silverman Program. She puts a crying baby on a branch outside during her baby shower so she can deliver the punchline to her joke about how she lost a pair of chopsticks: "I'm like, 'Silver-WHERE?'"
  • Fozzie Bear from The Muppet Show is a Reconstruction of this trope. According to the First Season Muppet Show commentary, Fozzie was originally just a bad comedian, and they switched to the use of this trope midseason. A comedian whose material is invariably unfunny: kinda sad. A comedian who, without realizing it, dissects how to be invariably unfunny: hysterical.
    • The recurring sketch "Veterinarians Hospital" can also be guilty of this. Rowlf plays an incompetent Dr. Bob who drops a lot of dad jokes, but doesn't save many lives.
      Nurse Piggy: Dr. Bob, it's too late. You've lost him.
      Dr. Bob: Well he couldn't have gone far, he was under the sheet just a second ago!
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Ted seems to enjoy bad Puns, explaining that it's because they're so bad that they're funny. Much of the group's "wit" is this, as well.
    • Having a character with the last name "Wharmpess" isn't funny. Giving him a dream of starting his own brewery named after him is not funny. The characters drinking his product and declaring it delicious is not funny. Repeating his last name as the name of the beer several times during the episode, and never once having the characters notice that they are drinking and enjoying a beer called "Warm Piss" is hilarious.
      "Today, you can enjoy a Wharmpess at every bar across the nation."
    • A Running Gag in a number of episodes is how the episode is mostly just a Framing Device as the characters are trying to tell someone else a long, convoluted story. One episode in particular had Barney talking about the absolute hilarity of something that happened at to Marshall at work that day, which starts off mildly amusing (forgot his dress pants at home) and get a little bit funnier (Barney shredded them with scissors, forcing Marshall to work with cut-off dress pants), but the funniest part of the whole story is how Barney is just gasping for air thinking it was the funniest thing ever.
  • An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had Data trying to figure out the whole "sense of humor" thing. Watching him wandering around spouting canned jokes at the crew and their awkward reactions is funny in its own right.
  • The "Fistful of Travellers' Cheques" episode of The Comic Strip Presents had the following "joke":
    Cafe Owner: Aw, come on guys. Ten steaks each? Are you joking?
    Miguel: Do we look like comedians?
    Cafe Owner exhales wordlessly.
    Carlos: What do you call a man with his ding-a-ling in a piece of melon?
    Cafe Owner: I don't know.
    Carlos: Christopher.
    Miguel laughs raucously. No-one else reacts.
    Carlos: See what I mean? Now get the steaks amigo!
  • A man tells a terrible joke at the winery about a refrigerator and a sleeping woman in an episode of Monk with everyone laughing as if it was actually any good.
  • Garth Marenghis Darkplace turns this, and Intended Audience Reaction in general, into an art form.
  • MADtv (1995) had the recurring character of Luann Lockhart, the worst stand up comedian in the world. He Cannot Tell a Joke.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan has Alexi, who is really fond of his bad puns. Half of the humor around him is watching him laughing alone at his own jokes while the other characters are confused or frustrated.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • The Weekend Update also has Nicholas Fehn, a topical comedian whose jokes basically consist of him not being able to finish a sentence, which results in the jokes sounding (intentionally) long-winded and convoluted.
    • There was also Gary Macdonald, Norm Macdonald's "brother" (really David Koechner), and "the funny one in the family", who would come on Weekend Update and attempt some topical humor, usually telling the lamest joke possible. What made it funny was how visibly nervous he was to be on TV telling jokes, and the fact that he ended each joke with the word "no", as if it was part of the sentence.
      Gary: I hear 'bout all these guys runnin' for president... with all this runnin' they should call it a race no...
      Norm: [after an awkward pause] Gary, they...they do call it a race...
    • Sometimes SNL lampoons actual other entertainers, like David Letterman, for failing at humor.
    • The entire sketch called "What Up With That?" The entire joke, and the plot of literally every sketch, is that talk show host Diondre Cole ("Taking on the issues of today with soul!") is so enamored of his own show's theme song that he can't stop singing it for more than a couple of minutes at the longest, launching back into it at the slightest opportunity, and running out the clock so that his invited celebrity guests (playing themselves, plus Bill Hader as Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham) never get the chance to say more than a few words (and Buckingham none, despite there being some special reason for him being there, or he made special effort to be there), much to their annoyance. That is literally every sketch. Not only was it a very popular sketch for a long while, it also never failed to bring the house down.
  • The Sopranos has at least two episodes where a terrible, terrible stand up comedian shows up and performs one of the worst routines in the world. No one in the show finds him amusing at all, but the overall scene usually ends up being pretty hilarious.
  • Most of Michael Scott's jokes in the U.S version of The Office are either this, Cringe Comedy, or both. This is also what happens anytime Dwight tries to emulate his mentor, such as his botched attempt to tell "The Aristocrats" near the end of "Beach Games."
  • Armando Iannucci in The Armando Iannucci Show. One episode has him tell a joke - "What's big and small at the same time? A really big egg." He then makes a Power Point presentation version of the joke about the dog having no nose.
  • A great deal of this appears on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, tying into the general Anti-Humor theme of the show.
  • A sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a "blooper reel" of an Open University broadcast where a professor says .567359 when he meant .567395 - he, his camera man, and the presenter of the clip all treat this as both screamingly funny and horrendously embarrassing.
  • Britta on Community gets the biggest laughs when she is being accidentally a huge dork.
  • Robbie Ray's puns on Hannah Montana, a fact which is usually lampshaded by Miley or Jackson.
  • This is what Doctor Blake Down does on Childrens Hospital. Despite being a Patch Adams expy, he is completely unfunny, cannot tell a joke and his entrance is often accompanied to the screams of terrified children. And it's hilarious.
    (tries to cure a young girl with a limerick)
    Blake Downs: There once was a man from Nantucket, whose penis was so abnormally large he could hold it in his mouth. (pause) Wow, nothing.
  • Piff The Magic Dragon on Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
    "You might know my older brother... Steve."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Angel, of all people, crack a joke like this in "Earshot", saying he's "dying to get rid of immortality".
  • In the 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Pre-Approved Credit Card", Earl's son Darius's attempt to break into comedy seems to be this at first, until he finds his voice as an Insult Comic.
  • On Britain's Got Talent, "comedian" Gatis Kandis delivered such a spectacularly bad performance that the judges found it hilarious— and, since comedy is supposed to make you laugh, they voted him through. Simon Cowell described him as "the funniest unfunniest comedian I've ever heard."
    "Public toilets: Can't live without them, can't live in them either. Because there is no fridge or microwave."
  • In a Mr. Show sketch, after a flashback in which a group of friends hold an intervention for a friend who doesn't wash her vegetables before eating them, David Cross takes a shot: "Jill's ingested so much soil, her stomach oughta be listed in the 'Worm Apartment Guide.'" Dead Silence. Followed by playing this trope even further with David trying to explain it.
  • The Arrested Development episode "Not Without My Daughter" does this. When George Michael was six years old, his father brought him to the Bluth Company's "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day" as a joke, and it became something of a tradition in his family; George Michael insists on keeping it up when he's sixteen, oblivious to the fact that no one at the company finds it funny anymore. The sheer awkwardness of his attempt to make it funny, though, is hilarious.
    (we see a flashback of a six year-old George Michael accompanying Michael to work)
    Narrator: Michael had first made this joke when George Michael was six.
    Michael: Well, she’s not my daughter, but it’s about as close as I’m going to get.
    Young George Michael: I’m a good little girl! (curtsies, as Michael's co-workers laugh)
    (we see another flashback, of George Sr. leading a meeting in a boardroom)
    Narrator: It was a joke that Michael was starting to grow concerned about, as it had not worn well with age.
    (George Michael pokes his head into the boardroom)
    George Michael: Hey, Dad! They’re out of sanitary napkins in the ladies' washroom! (laughs)
    George Sr.: Weird kid...
  • Invoked in-universe in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when Susie takes Midge to an out-of-the-way club where comedians try out their more experimental material. The two end up seeing a ventriloquist performance where the gimmick is that the comedian comes out to gloomily announce that he found his beloved dummy has died, but that his comedic partner would wish that he go on with the show regardless. What follows is an absurd tonal mismatch in which the depressed comic sets up the bawdiest jokes imaginable, tonelessly telling the audience how his dummy would have delivered the punchline were he still living. Midge and Susie are in tears, wondering aloud how something can be so devoid of humour that it becomes absolutely hilarious.
  • On Night Court, Christine was generally portrayed as this, when she had a sense of humor at all. Usually she only tried for humor when she was trying to fit in with the goofiness of the other characters. Like the time when everyone was making punny jokes based on the defendant's French nationality.
    Christine: He would like to throw himself on the merci of the court.
    (Everyone stops laughing)
    Dan: He'd like to throw himself on the "thank you" of the court?
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, the team's Blue Ranger Nobuharu (AKA Nossan) is fond of making "dad joke"-style puns, further emphasizing this role as the Team Dad. It actually serves an important use in one episode, where the villains are hypnotizing his sister Yuko with an illusion of her late husband Kenichi: Nossan starts craking some of his trademark jokes, which makes "Kenichi" get angry and start yelling at him to shut up. This makes Yuko realize that it's a fake, since her husband was very fond of Nobuharu and actually liked his goofy jokes.
  • Dee's comedy routines in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Usually, it's about 1/3 of a mildly okay joke before she chokes out on stage fright. In "The Gang Broke Dee", it notably improves after she suffers a bout of depression and channels it into her work, but then she gets (engineered) encouragement, the fame immediately goes to her head, and the entire routine devolves into her making stupid noises with her mouth and talking about her vagina.
  • On NCIS, Gibbs inverts the Funny Answering Machine hard with a message that's so terse and unfunny that it's hilarious.
    "Gibbs. Speak."

  • Elements of this have always been part of Eminem's schtick, ranging from totally undeserved insult comedy hurled at unacceptable targets that is so abusive that all you can do is laugh, to howler puns and double-entendres which he explains, to him just improvising knowingly lame songs in one of his arsenal of silly mystery accents.

  • Harry in The Time of Your Life wants to be a great comedian, but nobody laughs at his comic monologues.
  • Near the end of Cirque du Soleil's Mystère, Non-Ironic Clown Brian Le Petit finds himself faced with the challenge of calming down the extremely angry emcee. Since he can't defend himself with his pranking antics anymore, Brian resorts to harmless, hoary old gags: putting on a red clown nose, miming that he's trapped behind an invisible wall, etc. He only manages to amuse the audience.
  • Les Luthiers invoke this in the intro to their chacarera El Explicado: "Folklore composer Cantalicio Luna saw the light of day in the Buenos Aires province... when he was 18 years old. The morning he came from Santiago where he was born. Saw the light of day, do you unders... tand?"

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing has Dr. Shrunk, whose entire shtick is that he's a pyschiatrist/stand-up comedian who's not very funny. In a few of his jokes in City Folk and New Leaf, he acknowledges that folks tend not to laugh at his jokes.
  • Ernie Steele of Backyard Sports. Uses many examples of Don't Explain the Joke. Somehow, he seems to realize his jokes are unfunny, unlike Joey.
  • Fallout 2 has the abysmal standup comic in the Shark Lounge.
    Comic: So... uh... why did the radscorpion cross the road? Cause the radscorpion... uh, it wanted to get away from the radioactive fallout particles...uh, the joke, see, since it was already a mutant, it didn't need to cross the road, so... uh...
    Man in the audience: You suck!
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the knight Alois fancies himself a Pungeon Master. No one really laughs at his jokes except Prince Dimitri, who finds that they're so unfunny that they go full circle to hilarious.
  • The protagonist's parents in Growing Up are very fond of "dad" jokes, and they can either laugh along with them or roll their eyes at them.
  • In Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Alyx notices Combine soldiers infected by headcrabs and quips "Hmmm. A Combine zombie. That's, that's like a...ah...a Zombine! Right? Heh... Zombine, get it?" however, she quickly realizes the joke isn't funny. (Still, the name stuck, so a point in her favor.)
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Through the game, SAM tries repeatedly to work on a humor algorithm. Some of the jokes are old enough to be in museums. And they're awful. Ellen Ryder, wife of SAM's creator Alec, speculates Alec's own lack of a sense of humor has played no small part in this.
  • Overwatch 2: During the team's big reunion in the "Zero Hour" cinematic, Tracer introduces Mei to Reinhardt and Brigette. Reinhardt promptly delivers the most groanworthy pun imaginable ("Ice to meet you, Mei!"), then begins laughing heartily at his own joke, while Brigette sighs in embarrassment.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 3, Ikutsuki's jokes are so incredibly lame that it becomes impossible not to laugh at them.
    • Margaret in Persona 4 starts telling truly awful jokes completely seriously as you begin to progress down her Social Link. She seems disappointed that she can't make the protagonist laugh.
  • Max's jokes in the Sam and Max games are occasionally played for this, like a joke involving The Pope, Chester A. Arthur and a candiru fish that he made during his presidential campaign in "Abe Lincoln Must Die!". His Psychic Ventriloquism gags in Season 3 are about half this trope, and half an excuse to make lowest-common-denominator fart jokes without having to feel bad about it.
    • In "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", all the punchlines to the comics in the Egyptian newspaper turn out to involve committing the grievous faux pas of cutting cucumbers lengthwise.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney, Moe the clown encourages Phoenix to tell a joke. Clearly put on the spot, Phoenix says "Why am I, Phoenix Wright, such a great lawyer? Because I'm Wright all the time!" Cue awkward silence.
    Maya: At least his expectations are low.
    Moe: I wouldn't let him quit his day job.
    • A lot of Moe's jokes fall into this as well. The fact that he laughs uproariously at his own horrible jokes doesn't help his case. This is implied to be because he's well past his prime.
  • Kotomi from CLANNAD's attempts at comedy invariably end up as this. At first we have Tomoya trying to train her into being a Tsukkomi when she is Boke right down to her very core, but even when she just tries to tell a normal joke it ends up very old at best and totally inexplicable at worst. Her idea of a knock-out gag? Pointing at her elbow and saying 'it bends here.'
  • The title character of Melody soon learns to laugh at the protagonist's corny sense of humor. Unusually for her, she even tolerates it when those jokes are about her name.
  • Examining a specific ladder in the first room of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors over and over eventually leads to Junpei making a Hurricane of Puns about ladders. The fact that he's making a bunch of dumb jokes about a completely inconsequential ladder while minutes away from drowning in a slowly flooding room is funnier than the jokes themselves.

    Web Animation 
  • A lot of jokes in Jerry Jackson series are like this. For an example:
    (deliberate misspelling corrected) Why does Mario go in the pipes? Is it because he likes the music down there or is it so that he can trump and it will make a really funny echo sound? And then he can blow the smell out and poison all the turtles at the top. And the answer is: not there because it is a metaphorical question. Lol.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the Strong Bad Email "stand-up", Strong Sad treats the audience to a home movie of a young Strong Bad doing a hilariously awkward stand-up routine for a school talent show.
      Li'l Strong Bad: Um... how about this cafeteria food? Is it cardboard or is it pizza?
    • In "Halloween Fairstival", Bub's stand-up comedy routine consists of stock jokes boiled down to their absolute most generic form, and occasionally mashed up in ways that make no sense. Strong Mad is the only person who finds it funny.
      Bubs: Aww, that's rich. You know something else that bears a striking resemblance to something else? Women can't drive!
      Strong Mad: [smiling] THIS GUY CRACKS ME UP!
      Bubs: And remember, like, ten years ago? People's clothes looked funny! [Strong Mad laughs] And the music sounded terrible! [Strong Mad laughs]
    • The SBEmail "old comics" features "The Castlefunnies", a newspaper comic that's a rather clear parody of comic strip Long-Runners. Strong Bad describes it as coming from an era when "comics didn't seem to need jokes or humor or readers under the age of ninety-one," and true to form, it seems to be mostly the King of Town complaining about his ointments and health problems. Strong Bad did find the name "Mushy Chamberpot" to be Actually Pretty Funny, though.


    Web Original 
  • This bizarre attempt at a parody.
  • Pretty much everywhere, it's gonna be hot. Their reaction to the anchor's "joke" is so inexplicable it's hilarious.
  • Cracked popularized this example, and is probably responsible for most of its views.
  • The Freelance Astronauts do this sometimes, most notably during their Wii Sports Resort review intermission.
  • This is the entire point of the Anti-Joke Chicken meme.
  • 45 Minutes of Paul Stanley Stage Banter is exactly what it sounds like. It could also be seen as a Spiritual Successor to Having Fun with Elvis on Stage
  • The RiffTrax for the X-Men movie, around the middle, had Mike start randomly adding "o" to the end of phrases, and it culminated with him and Bill muttering "Cerebro" and "Magneto" to each other repeatedly in their best Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart impressions. It really wasn't a joke at all, but somehow ended up being the most hilarious thing of the whole Rifftrax.
  • Really Bad Jokes runs on this trope.
  • Reddit's r/comedyheaven is dedicated to this sort of humor.
  • Retsupurae has Let's Play IMDB: slowbeef and Diabeetus mock a Let's Play of Apocalypse for the PlayStation, a mind-numbingly generic game apart from the fact that the protagonist is modeled after and voiced by Bruce Willis, which prompt them to make a Hurricane of Puns involving the titles of everything Willis has ever worked on. And once they run of those, they make puns with random film and television titles for the rest of the over-an-hour-long video. At one point they briefly pause and wonder who in their right mind is still watching.
  • British YouTuber Tear of Grace's Signature Style involves, among many other things, a tendency for bad jokes, so many in fact that they actually become funny.
  • Constantly invoked in Third Rate Gamer. In the Yoshi's Island "review", he suggested that Shy Guys should've been called "Crap Guys". He even put a picture of a turd on the Shy Guy and added a fart noise.
  • RedLetterMedia: "101 Wacky Kid Jokes" 2 Parter. It has Rich Evans reading a book of the same title, the whole joke being that titular book was unfunny. A "with kids" edition was later done. In it, they test the jokes on two kids. One kid clearly disliked the jokes and tried ignoring Rich. The other kid laughed, but called the jokes stupid and ran away because he just couldn't handle them.
    • This trope is commonly invoked by Red Letter Media in general, often involving Rich trying to say something funny, only for everyone else to stop what they're doing and just stew in awkward silence for a few seconds.
  • Random Assault: Some of the episodes the cast thinks sucked turn out to be liked by the fans.
  • Game Grumps:
    • During their playthrough of Pokémon FireRed, Danny (who doesn't know much about the franchise) keeps cracking jokes of varying quality about the design of every new Pokémon they encounter. Enters Rhyhorn, and all he finds to say is "his head is weird". It sends them on a bigger laughing fit than any of the actual jokes.
      Arin: After one and a half years, this is what it's come to. The pinnacle of Game Grumps, right here.
      Dan: "His head is weird". Buy our shirts.
    • Another video had Arin mention a friend- Chris "Oney" O'Neil of OneyPlays- who was given an assignment in elementary school to write a joke to share with the class. Having blown off the assignment, he had to come up with one at the last minute. Having figured out the cadence of joke ("Ba-da-da-da da-da-da, da-da buh-da-da-da? Bah-da-da-da!"), he ad-libbed something to the effect of "What's the difference between a moodle and a banoodle? SKABOODLE!" which the other kids found hilarious- the teacher, not so much. Arin also says that when Oney recounted this story in the car, everyone present absolutely lost it. Dan is in disbelief that his "douchey teacher" didn't find it funny.
    • While playing Super Mario Maker Arin unleashes Yoda Jokes, the gist being that after Yoda "retires from The Force" he becomes a terrible stand-up comedian. The jokes are god-awful, but his impression of Yoda, the sheer intensity he delivers the jokes with, and Dan getting increasingly flustered by Jirard's unfairly difficult level makes them hilarious:
      "Yoda:" I have a funny joke for you, Dan! What kind of car would I drive?
      Dan: I dunno.
      "Yoda:" A Toyoda.
      Dan: Oh my god!
      Dan: It's not. It's not funny.
    • One of their plays of Kirby's Epic Yarn has them trading jokes they found from a compendium of terrible jokes... said in obnoxious New Yorker voices. They are howling with laughter the entire time.
    • Not to be undone, Ross of Steam Train kicks off one of their episodes of No Time to Explain with (drumroll) a ketchup pun because the Player Character had a burger for a head. What makes it funny is he told Dan with intense sincerity before the episode began that he had "a killer opening" and they did a big countdown to ensure he got the timing and inflection just right, which made the absolute Anti-Climax much funnier than if he'd actually told an amazing joke.
      Ross: Hey guys. What's ketch-up?
  • There is an entire Twitter feed called "Kids Write Jokes" devoted to terrible jokes written by children, which as you might imagine, are so bad they're often hilarious.
  • JonTron has been known to use this kind of humor on occasion, frequently with onscreen graphics or sound effects to lampshade a particularly awful joke.
    Jacques: Jon, can I play too?
    Jon: Oh Jacques, you can't play! You don't have hands! (Rim Shots are repeated over and over until they turn into a drum solo)
    • One from his Hercules video:
    Jon: Hercules does what Nintendercules! (Car crashes)
  • Unraveled: In the Mega Man episode, BDG drops a line that's so bad it wraps around to hilarious:
    BDG: Acid Man! He was built to be a chemist. What's he good for? Titrations?
    Background music immediately dies
    BDG: [stands there grinning at his own awful line for several seconds, then pegs Acid Man's picture up to the wall] That's a chemistry joke-
  • Brazilian web series UTC: Ultimate Trocadilho Championship - the middle word being Portuguese for "pun" - centers around people reading punny charades, with whoever laughs first losing. 90% of the charades enter Incredibly Lame Pun territory, so usually the laughs are due to this trope (though the contestants can go off-script, specially in the line delivery, to make things funnier).
  • The "Talking Houses" sketches on The Muppet Show were retired after the first season, possibly because it was generally agreed that they were genuinely not funny. The Talking Houses Twitter feed takes the "My [relative] is [doing something]." "Is he a [profession related to that thing]?" "No, he's a [building related to that thing]!" formula and absolutely runs with it, and is somehow hilarious.

    Western Animation 
  • Carlos on The Magic School Bus would constantly crack horrible jokes that were always followed by a groan and exasperated "Carlos!" from the rest of his classmates. One episode featuring the characters' parents shows that it runs in the family.
    "Mr. Ramon!"
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart the Genius", the teacher at the gifted school writes "r-cubed over three" on the board, which the rest of the class laughs at in amusement, but Bart doesn't understand. She then explains another way of writing it, according to Calculus, is "r-squared dr", or (going backwards from right to left) "R D RR"....Hardy Har Har! Doubles as a Genius Bonus if you know enough about algebraic formatting to know that "RDRR" would never appear using proper formatting, and you would have to purposefully go out of your way to write out the expression the wrong way to make the joke work.
    • Krusty the Clown was attempting to be the living embodiment of this trope. One of the writers said that it was a really hard balancing act of making the jokes unfunny yet still making the character a source of comedy. For example, from "The Last Temptation Of Krust":
      Krusty: Have you ever noticed how there are two phone books? A white one and a yellow one? What's the deal with that? 
      Krusty: Well, that... makes sense... what'll they think of next? Blue pages?  
      Marge: invoked They have those. They're government listings.
      Krusty: ...I see.
    • In "A Star Is Burns", Rainier Wolfcastle's attempt at stand-up comedy, where he cracks unfunny jokes and carries enough firepower to violently put down hecklers.
    • Homer's attempts at roasting Mr. Burns during "Rosebud" fail in hilarious fashion. Of course, the dead puppy in the parking lot didn't help.
    • "The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase" used this for two-thirds of its spinoffs. The sitcom parody mixed canned laughter at stupid jokes with very Black Comedy. The Variety Show parody just used very, very bad humour with subtler indications that it was entirely on purpose.
    • Marge, of all people. Whenever she actually tries to crack a joke, she's always very pleased with herself, but nobody else is because her sense of humor is so incredibly bland. Even when she tries not to be bland it usually fails in some hilarious way. In "King of the Hill":
      [on the TV, an action movie is playing and McBain snaps someone's neck]
      Marge: Now that's what I call break-neck speed.
      Bart: [very sternly] Mom, a man just died.
    • In "Weekend At Burnsie's", Mr. Burns is writing jokes for his appearance at a fundraiser, testing them on Smithers and Homer (the latter because while he was hooked on medicinal marijuana, thought his earlier jokes were hilarious):
      Burns: So, profit margins will be lower than ...Louise Brooks' negligee.
      (Homer and Smithers grin awkwardly and stare at each other)
      (Homer and Smithers still sit in awkward silence)
      Smithers: (whispering to Homer) One of us has got to start laughing. If Mr. Burns gets flop sweat, he'll die of dehydration.
  • The character Darph Bobo in Tripping the Rift is, according to its creator Chris Moeller, supposed to be funny because he doesn't think clowns are funny at all.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Many of Sokka's weird nicknames and jokes are this. (And apparently so are his father's, according to a comment from Bato when Sokka makes one in Bato's presence.) Apparently the unfunny-is-funny effect holds true for the rest of the gAang as well as the audience, because by season 3, they have gotten so used to Sokka's particular sense of humor that they actually miss his jokes when he's off training with his master—and the replacement jokes they try to make are even more unfunny-funny (but only to the audience, not them).
    • Even resident Dark Action Girl villain Azula gets into the mix in Breather Episode "The Beach", in which she attempts to socialize with normal Fire Nation teens but can't quite keep her sociopathic nature and lust for power hidden, leading her to come across as something of a creepy Stepford Smiler.
      Azula: That's a sharp outfit, Chan. Careful, you could puncture the hull of an Empire class Fire Nation battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea... because... it's so sharp.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has Pungeon Master Numbuh Two, who is hilarious, to the viewer at least, because he delivers his jokes with so much hammy enthusiasm it's hard not to laugh. (His Evil Counterpart in "Operation: P.O.O.L." is genuinely funny since the two are polar opposites.)
  • Pinky and the Brain:
  • Stanley's corny jokes on The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan are clearly meant to be this. Though in his case the humor doesn't just come from the corniness, but from Henry's less than amused reactions.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants often has this, especially in the earlier episodes. The real king is this gem:
    "Why couldn't the 11-year old go to the pirate movie? It was rated Aaaarrrrrgh."
    "I'm not paying you to do stand-up, Mr. Squidward! Now get back to work!"
  • One episode of The Proud Family had Penny throw a party that was woefully under attended, thanks to Lasieniga also throwing a party that very night. Only the rejected guests from Lasieniga's ended up at Penny's house (with even Penny's friends abandoning her). So Trudy, wanting to cheer up Penny and entertain her guests, delivers this priceless gem:
    "Why did the monkey fall off the tree?" (Kids ask why)
    "Because he was dead!" (Penny was NOT amused)
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Mabel's attempt at a Visual Pun in the first episode, made worse by how there weren't even any beans in the can to spill.
    • When Stan is taking a fishing trip alone and trying to socialize with the other fishers he tells this joke to a couple as the man is proposing, made all the funnier by his delivery and how inappropriate it is.
      Stan: My ex wife still misses me... but her aim is getting better! [Beat] But her aim is getting better! (beat) You see, it's funny because marriage is terrible.
  • This exchange from American Dad!, when Mama lectures Francine on not appreciating Stan.
    Mama: You know how often Baba do the "Pull my finger" joke? Five times a week! And it never been funny. There was that time it was a little funny cause it had been unfunny for so long, but that was only for like a couple days.
  • Texas' one-liners in "The Duke of Detroit Presents" episode of Motorcity.
  • This trope is the core of Luan Loud's puns. There generally is at least one (often more) per episode of The Loud House.
  • One early episode of Steven Universe has Steven attempt to bond with the Crystal Gems over a pancake breakfast he made. At one point he makes an unfunny "balanced breakfast" joke to Garnet, which is made funny by the incredibly awkward expression on his face when Garnet reacts with dead silence.
  • Teen Titans Go! "Uncle Jokes" has Robin only telling these jokes. Starfire learns humor from Beast Boy and Cyborg, which messes up Robin's mind and the status quo when she becomes a third clown like them. The only way they fix it is by giving her the "uncle" treatment. The only person who finds Robin's jokes funny is Raven.
  • Beast Wars has a lot of instances of this:
    • Quite a few characters have running gags: Dinobot and Rattrap calling each other names, Inferno thinking he's a real ant and calling Megatron "The Royalty" and "My Queen", Optimus Primal and Rhinox's dad jokes, Megatron's hamminess and vanity, Waspinator being the Butt-Monkey of the show, and most of Ratrap's one-liners. What's actually funny, more often than not, is the routine Lampshade Hanging of these gags.
    • Megatron gloating? Not that funny. Megatron laughing at his own jokes? Not especially funny. Megatron laughing at his own jokes so hard he starts coughing? Hilarious!
    • Blackarachnia insulting the Maximals for giving sappy speeches? Not particularly funny. Airrazor immediately punching her out for doing so? Hilarious! Even Rattrap found it funny.
    • "The Low Road", an episode heavily involving Rattrap and Dinobot bickering, slapstick, and Toilet Humour, is roughly a full half-hour of this trope.
    • Whole swaths of Ratrap's dialogue. In almost every episode Rattrap will crack a lame joke, literally no one around him will find it funny (in many cases they will find it annoying, even sternly telling him to shut up), and then he'll be disappointed that they didn't find it funny. This culminates in one of the best jokes in the show:
      Ratrap: I know, I know. 'Shut up, Rattrap.'
  • Much of the humor of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum comes from Yadina's terrible puns, which are so corny that you can't help but snicker at them.



Video Example(s):


"Don't call me Shirley"

Thanks to Leslie Nielsen's deadpan delivery, this single line goes from a potential unfunny line, to one of the most iconic in all comedies.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoUnfunnyItsFunny

Media sources: