- "Rudyard Funn runs a funeral home in the village of Piffling Vale. It used to be the only one. It isn't anymore."—Madeleine's Opening Narration
Wooden Overcoats is a podcast sitcom about rival funeral directors, set in the fictional village of Piffling Vale, on the tiny island of Piffling in the English Channel. For generations, Funn Funerals has been the only business of its kind on the island. Today it is run by gloomy misanthrope Rudyard Funn, aided by his assistant Georgie, while his mortician twin sister Antigone deals with the corpses.
Then the worst day of Rudyard's life happens - when handsome, charming, sexy new funeral director Eric Chapman rolls into the village, buying up the antique shop across from Funn Funerals and converting it into a mortuary in record time. Soon, the villagers are under Chapman's spell, and Funn's business immediately goes to pot. Eric can do no wrong, and Rudyard can do no right, much to Funn's fury. Worse, Antigone seems to have developed a very strong attraction to Mr. Chapman, despite professing to hate him. Every episode brings a new scheme by Rudyard to rid himself of Chapman and restore the former status quo... schemes that are of course destined to fail spectacularly.
The first series consisted of eight episodes released between September and November 2015. Two more eight-episode seasons have been released, and a fourth season has been announced for the summer of 2020. However, due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, production of Season Four has been postponed until further notice. The creators have confirmed that the fourth season will be the last.
This podcast contains examples of the following tropes:
- 0% Approval Rating: Nobody likes the Funns. Nobody.
- 10-Minute Retirement: In "Take a Letter, Miss Crusoe," Georgie resigns from Funn Funerals and goes to work at the mayor's office. By the end of the episode, though, she realizes she can't live without Rudyard and Antigone, and comes back.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Eric Chapman. Out of the entire village, there are only three people who don't like the guy: Rudyard, Georgie, and Marjorie. (If asked, Antigone will insist she doesn't like him either, of course.)
- The Ace:
- He's an expert funeral director, he charms the pants off of everybody, he's so handsome that every woman in Piffling Vale fawns over him, he has a yacht... there's pretty much nothing that Eric can't do.
- Downplayed with Georgina, who is extremely multi-talented and attracts friends easily. However, unlike Eric, she never seems to aim very high, and is content with doing her thing at Funn Funerals.
- Aerith and Bob: Among names like "Eric," "Georgie," "Agatha," "Desmond," and "Nigel", the names "Rudyard" and "Antigone" stick out like sore thumbs.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: In the Season One finale, Rudyard attracts a lot of female admirers after being (falsely) convicted of murder.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Marlene Magdelana makes one to Antigone, who is about as confused as you'd expect.
- Arc Words: "Other people are all there is." The phrase shows up in every season finale, said by a different character in a different context, reflecting their views of themselves and where they fit into the world.
- As You Know: Parodied in "Georgina and the Waves," which begins In Medias Res. Rudyard starts to recount the events that led them to where they are, before Antigone and Georgie snap that they know what happened, it was only a few hours ago and they were there. Georgie's nana pipes up that she wouldn't mind hearing the story, but Georgie (already in a pissy mood, thanks to Rudyard) shushes her. Madeline then brings the audience up to speed.
- Asshole Victim: When Seymour gets killed at the end of the fifth episode, absolutely no one feels sorry, since he was an absolute dick. (Seriously, he makes Rudyard look charming.)Georgie: He groped the waitress that helped him up, so she stabbed him in the eye.
Antigone: I hope she took her time with it.
- Atrocious Alias: When collaborating on a romance novel, Antigone and Wavering agree to use a pen name, with her choosing the first name and him choosing the surname. She chooses the elegant and sexy-sounding "Octavia," and he chooses... "Blimp." Antigone's response is basically, "Seriously?", but she goes along with it.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Rudyard, Antigone, and Georgie all really do love each other, and occasionally they'll even admit it. Antigone telling Rudyard "I don't hate you" is one of the most touching moments of Season One.
- Berserk Button: Georgie's is pressed in "Flip Flap Flop" when it's implied that Rudyard and Antigone didn't put any effort into the conference.
- Black Comedy: By the boatload. It's a sitcom about warring funeral homes, so unsurprisingly, there are jokes about death, corpses, funerals, violence, and murder everywhere.
- Brick Joke:
- At the end of "The Little Death," Rudyard uses Madeline (armed with a microphone) to spy on Georgie and Eric's date in a cliffside cafe. When Madeline is spotted, a riot breaks out, prompting Rudyard to run for it. In "Tempting Fête," it's revealed the cafe has closed due to "cyborg mice."Rudyard: It was one mouse.
- In "Tempting Fête," Georgie suggests the group run off to San Marino. Towards the end of "Georgina and the Waves," she brings that idea up again.
- At the end of "The Little Death," Rudyard uses Madeline (armed with a microphone) to spy on Georgie and Eric's date in a cliffside cafe. When Madeline is spotted, a riot breaks out, prompting Rudyard to run for it. In "Tempting Fête," it's revealed the cafe has closed due to "cyborg mice."
- Burial at Sea:
- In Season 1 Episode 6, a drunken lighthouse keeper challenges Eric and Rudyard to come up with the best funeral for one of his dead seagulls. Eric chooses this option.
- A similar idea appears in the third season finale. Rudyard and Antigone come up with the idea to spread Nana's ashes at sea, so the winds may pick them up and take them to the corners of the world. The season ends with Georgie scattering the ashes as they fly over the ocean.
- In the first episode, Rudyard sends Georgie to buy a kettle. The next episode, he comments that they're still paying installments on it.
- In "The Sweet, Sweet Taste of Death," Eric refers to Rudyard's arrest at the end of the last series.
- In "There Ought to be Clowns," we're reminded of Eric's ill-fated crush on Georgie, who tells him not to push his luck.
- In the same episode, a worker at the circus mentions the impressive funeral service Antigone put together in "A Funeral House Divided."
- The flashbacks in "Putting the Funn in Funerals" reminds us of Antigone's sunlight allergy, and the fact that before the events of the show, no one had seen her outside of Funn Funerals in over ten years.
- CatchphraseRudyard: Now, look here!
Rudyard: We put the body in the coffin in the ground on time.
Eric: Enjoy yourselves.
Eric: ...a long time ago.
Mayor Desmond: I don't always read everything I am given. I am usually kept very busy.
Agatha Doyle: Suspicious, one might say.
Antigone: Oh, for God's sake!
- Casual Kink: Georgie has a masochistic streak.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The show remains a comedy throughout, but Season Two and especially Season Three have a lot more Character Development and emotional moments—though the seeds were planted as early as "Georgina and the Waves."
- Character Death: This focuses on funeral homes, so naturally, a lot of minor characters die. However, there are a few deaths that impact the plot and characters greatly:
- "Rudyard Makes a Friend" sees the death of Jerry, who sets off a bomb that nearly kills Eric and Antigone.
- "There Ought to be Clowns" has the sudden death of Bijou, much to Antigone's sadness.
- "The Sunshine Treatment" ends with Georgie's Nana passing away at home.
- Character Development: Despite the show running on Status Quo Is God, the characters do grow.
- Antigone's growth is the most prominent. She becomes more assertive and social, and finally lets go of her crush on Eric.
- Rudyard, while always remaining a blustering jerk, gets a lot more Pet the Dog moments as time goes on. His relationships with Antigone, Georgie, and even Eric take a definite upturn.
- Eric starts displaying actual flaws, and we learn that not everyone likes him.
- The Chew Toy: Both of the Funns, but mostly Rudyard, suffer a lot over the course of the series, much to the audience's amusement. It helps that Rudyard mostly brings it on himself.
- Close-Knit Community: Piffling Vale, for all its quirks and faults, is ultimately this. The townsfolk are all familiar with each other and generally function as an extremely dysfunctional family. This trope is one reason why Nana was okay with the idea of settling down there, despite having spent her life travelling the globe — as she says to Georgie, there are times when it's very good to have a community and neighbors who care about you.
- Clown-Car Grave: It is revealed that the 40 clowns are buried in a single casket since they could fit in one car before.
- Coffin Contraband: It is revealed that one of the Funns' clients intends to use their casket and funeral services for hiding millions of pounds.
- Continuity Porn: Virtually every episode has a Call-Back, Brick Joke, or Continuity Nod from a previous episode, making it a treat to listen to for the second time.
- Covert Pervert:
- You wouldn't guess it from her usual demeanor, but judging from how often she gets Distracted by the Sexy and her habit of reading "raunchy books," Antigone's really kind of a perv.
- In general, the citizens of Piffling Vale are much more prone to sexual antics than you'd think. It's implied in one episode that nearly all of them have confessed "naughty" things to Reverend Wavering.
- Creepy Child: Calliope, a scout who dreams of becoming an undertaker and is isolated by the other kids for being "weird." She's actually a pretty nice girl, though, and Rudyard finds a kindred spirit in her.
- Damned by Faint Praise:
- Rudyard's catchphrase "we get the body in the coffin in the ground on time" is a point of pride for him, despite it being the bare minimum of what a funeral home ought to do. (And in the case of this particular funeral home, they don't even always manage to actually do it.)
- Prior to the arrival of Eric, Funn Funerals had a stellar reputation as the only funeral home on the island.
- Deadpan Snarker: Georgie and Antigone have their moments.
- Death Faked for You: At the end of season one, Rudyard accidentally fakes Chapman's death by throwing the life-size replica of Eric off the Piffling Cliff.
- Decided by One Vote: Mayor Desmond's reelection in Season Three is decided by one vote... because there were only four actual votes. Eric and Desmond voted for each other, Georgie voted for Desmond, and Antigone voted for no one at all out of protest.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Rudyard receives an angry mob for allegedly throwing a cat in a bin.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- Eric doesn't even have to be present to distract Antigone from the matter at hand.
- Georgie is easily sidetracked by Marelene Magdelana, especially when her whip is involved.
- Dysfunctional Family:
- Although they have lived and worked together their whole lives, Rudyard and Antigone can barely stand to be in the same room as each other. What little we've heard of their parents also imply their father was a real piece of work and their mother had trouble being close with people. Rudyard is also mentioned to have last laughed at his great-grandfather's funeral, because "nothing will top that." When asked to come up with the most horrifying five words they can, this is what the twins have to say.Rudyard: Mum.
Rudyard: Back. [beat] Oh, dear.
- In the Season Three finale, Reverend Wavering reveals his family was like this, too. This is why he believes one chooses their family, if not their relatives.
- Although they have lived and worked together their whole lives, Rudyard and Antigone can barely stand to be in the same room as each other. What little we've heard of their parents also imply their father was a real piece of work and their mother had trouble being close with people. Rudyard is also mentioned to have last laughed at his great-grandfather's funeral, because "nothing will top that." When asked to come up with the most horrifying five words they can, this is what the twins have to say.
- Eccentric Townsfolk: Literally everyone except Georgie. Even Eric, since his perfection shoots the moon and lands firmly into Parody Sue territory.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Madeline accidentally causes a panic at a local restaurant when she spies on Eric and Georgie for Rudyard.
- Election Day Episode: "The Race for Piffling."
- Emerging from the Shadows: It's the only way Antigone appears. She can even do it in places without shadows.Eric: I didn't know they had any shadows here.
Antigone: They follow me everywhere.
Eric: Of course they do.
- Ending Memorial Service: Fitting for the series' plot, every season ends with a funeral.
- Everyone Has Standards: Rudyard loathes Eric, and wants to run him out of town, or at least out of business. But when Jerry tries to murder Eric, Rudyard attempts to stop him, even outright standing between them.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Among the Piffling Scouts' various troops, we have the Bassoon Patrol (consisting of kids who play the bassoon), and the Calliope Patrol (consisting of... Calliope).
- Failure Is the Only Option: Whenever the Funns try to run Eric out of town, poach his clients, or in general beat him at anything. It's to the point where an episode not ending in utter humiliation for the Funns is considered a win.
- Family Business: Funn Funerals has been in the family for generations, since the 1500s.
- Family of Choice: In the words of Reverend Wavering:You can't choose your relatives. But you can choose your family.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Rudyard and Antigone sometimes do this when they actually agree on something; the fact that they do it so often in "Putting the Funn in Funerals", both when trying to support Georgie as she prepares for her Nana's funeral and later when actually planning Nana's funeral themselves emphasizes how important the matter is to them both.
- Freudian Slip: When the other children start making fun of Calliope, Rudyard can't help but be reminded of his childhood.Child: What kind of name is "Calliope," anyway?
Rudyard: Rudyard—I mean, Calliope is a perfectly normal name for a child!
- Blink and you'll miss it: in the second episode, Georgie inadvertently and offhandedly lays out the components for Rudyard's final plan to destroy Eric.
- Earlier in "The Sunshine Treatment" Georgie mentions how she's planning to visit her Nana because she hasn't been feeling well. The end of the podcast has Dr. Edgware visit to inform Georgie that her Nana has passed away.
- Forgot Their Own Birthday: In the second season, Mayor Desmond is so overworked that he doesn't remember he and Wavering had plans, even though the plans were to celebrate his own birthday.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral":
- All of Chapman's funerals are celebrations of life, unlike the Funns'. His tagline is even "We put the 'fun' in 'funeral.'"
- In the first episode, Eric asks why the Funns don't use the phrase and Rudyard ignores the pun, shaming him for making a mockery out of funerals. Later, when Eric uses it for his own business, Rudyard mutters, "He stole that from me."
- Go Through Me: In "Rudyard Makes a Friend," Rudyard does this to protect Eric of all people, standing between him and a Mad Bomber.
- Heroic BSoD: Eric goes through one in "The Sunshine Treatment" when his ill-considered foray into "grief counseling" makes everyone's problems worse rather than better. He spends the latter half of the episode numbly making monotonous responses to people and repeating nonsensical platitudes, until he snaps at a funeral—complete with an audible snapping sound—and moons the whole town.
- Hidden Depths:
- It turns out Antigone's actually a pretty good writer, her appreciation for the sublime making her an expert at conveying emotion with words.
- The near-perfect and successful Eric completely breaks down whenever faced with the rare failure. For all his experience and talents, he's also not terribly creative; any time he has to give a speech, he borrows liberally from other, better media, without even editing it to fit the context of what he's saying.
- Hikikomori: Antigone only leaves the house once a week, and even that's at nighttime, and she goes straight to the movie theater and straight back. Herbert, who runs the theater, seems to be the only person outside of Funn Funerals who knows her particularly well. Justified as Antigone has terrible allergies that act up during the day, and she is shown trying to get out more.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Not only are all of Rudyard's schemes to best Eric doomed to fail, but most of them will blow up in his face and make things worse for him. For example, in "Tempting Fête," he orders Georgie to go to Chapman's and "sabotage something," which she does. While she's gone, Eric comes by, and offers to help out with the fête, offering to his chocolate fountain, saying he can provide free snacks to everyone in attendance. Rudyard, realizing he's in a real bind and needs all the help he can get, reluctantly agrees, and even says "thank you" without being prompted... and then Eric gets a call from his secretary saying someone came in and wrecked his chocolate fountain. Cue Georgie returning.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You:
- Marlene Magdelana, the dominating ringmaster, becomes infatuated with Antigone after the latter tells her off.
- It's implied Eric's crush on Georgie is at least partially due to the fact that she doesn't swoon over him or throw herself at him, unlike most of the women in town. This is supported by the fact that he finds a character in a Show Within a Show who spends all her time pining away over her love interest to be rather sad and pathetic, rather than endearing.
- Ignored Epiphany: Rudyard actually begins to wonder if maybe Eric is a genuinely nice guy and Rudyard himself might be the real problem. Unfortunately the person he asks about it is the only person who hates Eric more than he does.
- In Medias Res:
- "Georgina and the Waves" begins with Rudyard, Antigone, Georgie, Madeline, and Georgie's nana stranded in a boat on the Atlantic Ocean, with Antigone and Georgie very pissed at Rudyard. Madeline then backs up to explain How We Got Here, even name-dropping the phrase "in medias res," which she says is Latin for "skipping straight to the good bit."
- "Antigone in the Spotlight" does something similar, beginning with Antigone in the wings at the play, completely freaking out, while Georgie and Rudyard are not speaking to her. Then we go back about a week to find out what happened.
- Innocently Insensitive: Eric, quite often.
- He views the Chapman's/Funn Funerals rivalry as friendly competition between two establishments in the same industry, which might be the case if they weren't in such a small community, where there really is only room for one funeral home, so Eric's good business moves and endearing himself to the community drive the Funns to near-bankruptcy.
- In "Antigone in the Spotlight," Eric and Antigone discuss the script of the show they're working on, and Eric admits he dislikes the leading lady, finding her hopeless pining and inability to talk to her love interest to be "pathetic." He is, of course, completely unaware that Antigone not only has a crush on him, but deeply relates to the character he's disparaging because of those qualities.
- Intergenerational Friendship:
- A rather sweet one occurs between Calliope (a ten-year-old scout) and Rudyard (about thirty-five) in "Rudyard Takes a Hike." She also takes well to Antigone.
- Georgie gets on well with Mayor Desmond, despite what is probably at least thirty years between them, if not more.
- Ironic Name: The Funns are... not.
- Irrational Hatred: Georgie develops an extreme dislike of Eric, and he's often baffled trying to figure out why. While Rudyard's hatred of him goes well beyond what is reasonable, it at least has a logical basis in the fact that they're business rivals. Georgie at first opposes him out of loyalty to the Funns, but it gradually becomes clear she just flat-out doesn't like the guy for some reason.
- Irritation Nightmare: One episode opens with Rudyard having a nightmare about being Buried Alive. He actually takes it rather well, figuring that there are worse ways to die... until he realizes his Sitcom Archnemesis, Eric, is locked in there with him, and is as cheerful as ever. Then he wakes up screaming.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: Antigone will have you know, she does not read "raunchy books," she reads serious, sociopolitical thrillers. And she's certainly never written one, either!
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Rudyard is absolutely correct that a small village like Piffling Vale really doesn't have enough resources or people to justify two funeral homes, but the townspeople like Eric too much to care. (He also turns out to be right that the island having two hospitals wouldn't be ideal, though he only said that to manipulate the mayor — he probably didn't predict that the opening of the second hospital would spread Dr. Edgware so thin.)
- While Eric is a genuinely Nice Guy who doesn't really deserve Rudyard's behavior towards him, it's also easy to see where the resentment came from. If you ran the Family Business for decades, your location and services guaranteeing you steady clientele, and then all of a sudden, a newcomer showed up from out of nowhere and not only opened up a competing business, but set up shop across the road, and suddenly started getting all your clients, causing you to go broke... Well, would you be terribly fond of that person?
- Kangaroo Court: When Rudyard is put on trial for the alleged murder of Eric Chapman in the first season finale, it's made blatantly clear from the start that no one intends to give him a fair trial. He's not allowed to speak for himself, or take any time to prepare a defense. His "defense attorney," Reverend Wavering, believes he's guilty and admits he's just "going through the motions," not putting any effort whatsoever into actually defending Rudyard. Unsurprisingly, Rudyard is in the court room for a grand total of five minutes before he resigns himself to his fate.
- Kids Are Cruel: Downplayed by the Piffling Scouts. They're a snarky bunch and they make fun of Calliope, but by the end of the episode, they chill out significantly and even pick her to be their new troop leader.
- Lame Pun Reaction: Occurs in "Altar Ego," when Reverend Wavering and Antigone write an erotic novel under a shared pseudonym, Octavia Blimp. When things inevitably get out of hand and they realize they need an out, Georgie says they have to "Hindenburg this Blimp." This is met with stony silence from the rest of the room, and Rudyard outright claiming the phrase doesn't make sense.
- Last-Name Basis: Rudyard exclusively calls Eric "Chapman." Antigone usually does to his face, but calls him by his first name when he's not around.
- Love Triangle:
- Eric, Antigone, and Georgie are in a type five. Antigone likes Eric (not that she'll admit it), but he doesn't notice, and instead harbors feelings for Georgie. Georgie does go on one date with him, but is rather aloof towards him at best.
- This is hilariously flipped on its head in "Antigone Takes the Spotlight," where Georgie is infatuated with Marlene Magdelana... who passionately declares her love to a flabbergasted Antigone.
- Mad Bomber: Jerry the baker who, blaming Eric for his wife leaving him, creates a DIY bomb and uses it to blow up the uranium mine in a bid to kill Eric.
- Mad Libs Catch PhraseGeorgie: I'm great at [task she's been assigned].
- Magical Realism: Why can Rudyard understand Madeleine? How can Madeleine write and get published, with everyone knowing she's a mouse? How do shadows literally follow Antigone everywhere? How were the Funns born a week apart despite being twins? How does literally anything in Piffling Vale continue to function, given that there are only a handful of competent people in town? Ehhh... just go with it.
- Mistaken for Gay: In "The Bane of Rudyard", when Rudyard goes to the mayor to complain about Eric, the mayor confuses his wording and thinks Rudyard is talking about a male love interest.Rudyard: You see, your worship—there's this man...
Mayor: He's not worthy, Rudyard!
Rudyard: Ha, yes—what? No! I mean, this man is opening a funeral home, right across from mine.
- Meaningful Name: The florist, Petunia Bloom.
- Mellow Fellow: Gender Flipped by Georgie, who is utterly unflappable, rolling with the punches and not getting bothered by anything. Antigone, annoyed by this spends most of "Flip Flap Flop" trying to get under her skin, and failing. But when the other undertakers disrespect Rudyard and Antigone, Georgie loses it.
- Motive Rant: Marjorie gives one in the first season finale, explaining she went on a killing spree partially out of anger at never being appreciated or recognized. Even though she went way too far, Rudyard does sympathize.
- Narrator All Along: At the end of the first episode, the narrator reveals herself as Rudyard's mouse friend, Madeleine.
- Never My Fault: Rudyard blames Eric for everything, and refuses to accept any blame for their feud.
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Concept is played with by several characters, like Reverend Nigel in his speeches or Rudyard after he says something rude will correct himself with the phrase.
- Noodle Incident:
- Eric's past is basically made up of these. Any unlikely or spectacular thing you can think of, he's done it... a long time ago.
- In "Putting the Funn in Funerals," Antigone mentions that Petunia is still pretty pissed about the whole "being tied up by a Slovakian woman so she can steal her role in the play" thing.Antigone: It's only the third time it's happened, but she's getting quite tired of it.
- Not So Different:
- Marjorie tries to give the speech to Georgie, but Georgie doesn't even bother considering it. On the other hand, Rudyard is able to empathize with Marjorie after hearing the latter's Motive Rant, as they both feel deeply unappreciated and unnoticed by other people.
- The real example is Georgie and Eric. Both are intelligent, ridiculously talented, well-liked people — except Georgie hates Eric's guts, which he finds absurd.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Sadly, "Flip Flap Flop" only shows the build-up and immediate aftermath of Georgie beating up twenty-five people at once.
- Operation: Jealousy: After getting pissed off at Eric, Lady Templar tries this by hiring the Funns to do a funeral for her aunt, and taking Rudyard out to a "business meeting" at the yacht club. Rudyard doesn't get it (at first), but Eric realizes precisely what she's doing and refuses to take the bait.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- Rudyard selflessly stands in between Eric and a Mad Bomber to save his life. He also spends the next episode a complete wreck because he thinks Antigone might have been killed in the explosion, with none of his usual exasperation and resentment towards her.
- You can tell Georgie is seriously depressed after her Nana dies, because she's never once rude to Eric the entire episode. She also falls spaces out and falls asleep on the job, as opposed to her usual status as the Hypercompetent Sidekick.
- Similarly, Rudyard is so determined to give Georgie's Nana the perfect funeral for the sake of his friend that he willingly cooperates with Eric.
- Opening Narration: By Madeleine, who gives the tagline (see the page quote) before briefly bringing the listener up to date for the current episode.
- Origins Episode: Much of "Putting the Funn in Funerals" is comprised of flashbacks of Georgie and her Nana arriving in Piffling Vale, showing how she came to work at Funn Funerals.
- Parental Favoritism: The Funns' father seems to have favored Rudyard, leaving him and only him in charge of the business, even though Antigone's also worked there her whole life (and is generally the more reasonable of the two). According to Antigone, their father barely noticed she was alive.
- Parenthetical Swearing: Usually, when Eric says "enjoy yourselves," he means just that. However, when he's really agitated, he can make those same words have the same effect as "fuck off!"
- Perpetual Poverty: The fact that the Funns are always broke and barely keeping the lights on is the source of many jokes. The fact that Rudyard is a complete cheapskate is probably a big part of why they can stay open at all.
- Pet the Dog:
- Rudyard is a massive Jerkass, but he actually is surprisingly sweet to Madeleine. He also shows kindness to a morbid child named Calliope, who is being bullied for traits that remind him of Antigone.
- Despite hating him by this point, Georgie insists along with Antigone that Rudyard invite Eric over for Christmas once they realize he's spending it completely alone.
- Playing a Tree: As a kid, Antigone was cast as a camel in a Christmas pageant.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The first episode starts with the death of the antique seller across the street from the Funn's, which is the same building that Eric Chapman moves into and begins his competition funeral service.
- Quirky Town: Piffling Vale is... weird, to say the least. Georgie stands out for being a relatively normal, competent person, and even she's got her eccentricities.
- Reality Ensues: As Eric learns the hard way in "The Sunshine Treatment," no, grief counselling is not as simple as making people feel happy. You need actual training, and the grieving process is long, complicated, and a hell of a lot more than can be accomplished in a couple sessions. No amount of good cheer and good intentions can change that.
- Remember the New Guy?: Many episodes introduce a minor character who all the townsfolk have known for years, but has never been mentioned before now. Usually in the form of their funeral.
- Sarcastic Clapping: At the start of "Rudyard Makes a Friend," Eric gets a smattering of applause at one of his funerals... and then after everyone else stops, we hear one person continuing to clap, very slowly.Eric: ...Thank you, Rudyard.
- Scout-Out: The Piffling Scouts, which appears to operate mostly like the Boy Scouts, except co-ed. (Co-ed troops are pretty standard in the UK.) Rudyard was a member as a kid for about three months. Surprisingly, despite being terrible at it and getting thrown out, he actually wanted to be a scout.
- Serial Killer: Towards the end of the first season, people begin to suspect there's one on the island. After all, why else would there be so many violent deaths in such a short period in such a small area? It's Marjorie Smith, the mayor's secretary.
- Sibling Seniority Squabble: Between Rudyard and Antigone, complicated by the fact that their age gap is unusually large for twins. Baby Antigone came into the world a week after her brother, at which point she was immediately diagnosed with depression.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Funn Funerals' petty and often very pointless and one-sided rivalry with Eric Chapman fuels the plot. Rudyard in particularly utterly loathes the man and would do anything to get rid of him, and is frequently infuriated by how half the time, Eric doesn't even notice. Georgie also later develops a borderline-Irrational Hatred of the guy.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Very common, due to the series running on Failure Is the Only Option and Status Quo Is God. The main characters usually end up right back where they started, if not worse off, with all their efforts being for naught.
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Georgie accuses Eric of being unable to handle the idea that out of the whole village, a couple don't adore him. There is some truth to this, but, as he points out, he's mostly just confused about why Georgie harbors such a deep resentment for him, since he's done nothing to her. (The Funns at least have the excuse of their business suffering because of him.)
- Status Quo Is God: Rudyard bitterly lampshades this a couple times. No matter what, Chapman will remain beloved by the town and prosperous, and the Funns will remain disliked and broke. But at least they'll always have Georgie. However, some things do change as the series goes on; Georgie becomes Desmond's secretary, Antigone becomes more assertive and a partial owner of Funn Funerals, and Rudyard becomes (slightly) nicer. And all the character deaths do stick.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Mentioned once, where after Antigone agrees to do a funeral for forty clowns pro-bono, she resorts to stuffing them everywhere she can—the fridge being no exclusion.
- Take Our Word for It: Since it's a podcast, the narrative can get away with simply telling us about some of the more unbelievable aspects, and letting us imagine it for ourselves. For example, Eric's ever-expanding funeral home, which includes a full bar, a bookstore, and a water slide.
- Talking to the Dead: One of Georgie's flashbacks in "Putting the Funn in Funerals" suddenly segues back into the present, with Georgie's past conversation with Nana becoming her yelling at the empty house in the present, sobbing as she wonders why she didn't ever tell Nana how much she loved her. Cue the sound of the audience's hearts breaking into a million pieces.
- Teens Are Monsters: Subverted for laughs by the "local hoodlums," a trio of teenagers who... occasionally tag walls with tasteful graffiti, and then loiter at the local bus stop! Shocking! When Antigone goes to catch the bus, she winds up chatting with them, and finds out that they're actually intelligent, well-spoken kids with strong artistic inclinations, and they're all quite friendly to her, letting her vent about her problems with Rudyard. The kicker? There's no bus, just a bus stop, because the mayor got it in his head that every good town as a bus stop that local hoodlums loiter at... and the kids don't even really like the bus stop, but they want the mayor to think he's doing a good job.
- Tempting Fate:
- Lampshaded in "Take a Letter, Miss Crusoe," when Reverend Wavering notes that if Rudyard and Antigone avoid the swamp, they should be okay. Cue Rudyard and Antigone immediately falling into the swamp.Reverend Wavering: I was just tempting fate there, wasn't I?
- All over the place in the flashbacks in "Putting the Funn in Funerals." Rudyard says Funn Funerals is the only funeral home on the island and it'll stay that way. Georgie says she doesn't like Piffling Vale or its people and she wants to leave as soon as possible. She also claims no one will be able to wave a magic wand and "make people enjoy themselves." Uh, yeah, guys, about that...
- Lampshaded in "Take a Letter, Miss Crusoe," when Reverend Wavering notes that if Rudyard and Antigone avoid the swamp, they should be okay. Cue Rudyard and Antigone immediately falling into the swamp.
- Timmy in a Well: The plot of the bonus episode "The Trouble With Rudyard." Rudyard gets stuck down a well... with a mattress at the bottom to break his fall... and a telephone... and emergency biscuits!
- Torches and Pitchforks: The mob after Rudyard is accused of throwing a cat in a bin.
- Twin Banter: Rudyard and Antigone. Most of their conversations are them throwing snarky comments and insults back and forth.
- Viking Funeral: In "There Ought to be Clowns," Eric gives the dead clowns one. He allows Antigone and Rudyard to light the fire, as a show of goodwill towards Antigone (since she deeply admired one of the deceased).
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The dynamic between Rudyard, Antigone, and Georgie in a nutshell. They drive each other insane, argue constantly, and always drag each other into trouble, but they're a family — literally, in Antigone and Rudyard's case.
- Whip It Good: Marlene Magdelana carries a whip with her everywhere and uses it to intimidate her subordinates (i.e., everyone). Georgie practically swoons.
- Write Who You Know: In Season Three, Antigone and Reverend Wavering collaborate to write an erotic novel under the pen name "Octavia Blimp." Things go awry when it turns out the Reverend was inadvertently drawing inspiration from real life... specifically, things people told him in confession. The hero is also very strongly implied to be based on Eric.
- X Must Not Win: While Georgie genuinely thinks Desmond is a good mayor and deserves to be reelected on his own merits, she's also vehement that he must win because if he doesn't, Chapman becomes mayor.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In a rare instance where their misfortunes actually aren't their own fault, the Funns get put through the wringer in "The Loneliness of the Short-Tempered Rudyard." The island's most influential woman wants them to do a funeral for her... because she wants to make Chapman jealous. When she fails at that, she dumps the Funns like a hot potato, and they're once again left with no clients at all.
- "Other people are all there is."