Comic relief serves an important role in many forms of art and cultural media, however in our post-modern, post-ironic world it can often be difficult to tell if something is meant to be funny or not, and sometimes relies on familiarity with the conventions of genre. Therefore, as a public service, and in the spirit of obsessively over-analysing and compartmentalising every facet of human experience, I have compiled this comprehensive field guide to the various types of “joke” you can expect to find in various film and television genres.
There are two types of joke in Japanese animation:
1) a male character trips and accidentally grabs a female character’s breasts, to which the latter responds with disproportionate physical violence often involving heavy carpentry tools or military ordnance
2) a young child calls any character older than fourteen a term such as “old lady” or “pops”, causing the older person to feel suddenly insecure about their fading youth
There are three types of joke in westerns.
1) a grizzled old prospector or trapper is exaggeratedly grizzled
2) a Mexican character played by an Italian actor is exaggeratedly Mexican
3) a man with clear signs of alcoholism accuses another man with a similar drinking problem of cheating at a card game and is fatally shot
There are four types of joke in American action movies:
1) a man and a woman don’t get along well
2) two men don’t get along well
3) two men get along well, but a third man is annoying
4) a black person says something outrageous
There are three types of joke in martial arts movies.
1) a fat person is injured
2) a sleazy official has a large and extremely hairy facial mole
3) Jackie Chan dresses up as a woman
There are no jokes in SF movies. The only thing that comes close is when an older character displays contempt for their future setting’s contemporary music or culture and a preference for what they refer to as “classical music”, which is then ironically revealed to be 80s hard rock or hip hop
There are three types of jokes in fantasy movies:
1) a respected actor appears in a ridiculous costume and is visibly bored and/or disgusted with everything around him, or else too drunk to care
2) Warwick Davis hits a guy in the nuts
3) the special effects
Horror movies are often darkly humorous and can have many types of joke, as long as the punchline somehow involves a woman being brutally murdered.
DISNEY / PIXAR / DREAMWORKS
Animated films in the Hollywood tradition have two types of joke to accommodate mixed audiences:
1) the joke for tired parents: a character makes a reference to something the parents might be assumed to have enjoyed in their adolescence, hoping that the dull warmth of familiar recognition will substitute for actual humour
2) the joke for small children: all on-screen characters scream continuously for fifteen minutes or more
SyFy Original Movies have two types of joke:
1) an absurd title that is in some way derivative of or referential to the increasingly irrelevant 2006 film Snakes on a Plane
2) the fact that enough people watch this shit to justify making a new one every year
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