Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Running Gag

This month I'm participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The theme I'm going with this year is writing humor. Follow along to learn more about the different ways to make your fiction, articles or blog posts humorous. 

My favorite running gags of all time can be found in the Phineas and Ferb show. Come on. Who doesn't love waiting to see how whatever the boys make gets smooshed, carted away, taken by aliens or zapped into the past before their mom sees it? Or what about the devices  ending in -inator which  Dr. Doofenshmirtz (not sure that's spelled right!) invents?  Best running gags ever. 

A running gag is when you set up something funny, but probably just kind of funny the first time,  and then bring it back again and again in the story, but in new and surprising ways, with it getting funnier every time. 

Like in Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, I would call Alcatraz's cousin's special magical talent, which is falling down, a running gag.  Now this is a great big islander man (I can't remember his name!) and when he falls down it is in a super spectacular way. His falling down is a sign that danger is nearby. So, everyone scatters and hides.  It's awesome. 

And I love how  Brandon Sanderson weaves this into the narrative, along with many many other great running gags, in different ways which never fail to surprise us and make us giggle. 

Another example of a running gag is in the movie Up when the dog is distracted by the "SQUIRREL!" repeatedly. It gets funnier and funnier each time it happens. 

Of course, there is a risk. If you return to the running gag too much you may simply annoy your reader. Make sure you don't go back to it too much. 

What are your favorite running gags from books, movies or tv? 


  1. Running gags include Scooby Doo with Velma always losing her glasses and saying that immortal quote. Also Shaggy and Scooby being terrified and crazy in love with food.

    This was one of my favourite posts. You're so right about the dog in up. And I'm glad to meet another adult who admits to loving Phineas and Ferb.

  2. Is a running gag the same as a callback?

    Love your humour blog challenge!

  3. I loved Scooby Doo, so I am totally with Sheena-Kay on this one!

    Lyre @ Lyre's Musings #atozchallenge