Home Contact Biography Works Media News

Jane Recommends
Who Hates Whom / Bob Harris

Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

"The geopolitical equivalent of scorecards that get hawked at ball games. Only Bob could make a user’s guide to our increasingly hostile world this absorbing, this breezy, and—ultimately—this hopeful."
~ Ken Jennings, author of Brainiac


Jane in Print
Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, edited by Jane Espenson

Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie and including Jane Espenson's short story, "Georgiana"

Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson and Glenn Yeffeth

Jane in DVD

Jane in DVD

Now Available:
+Battlestar Galactica Season 3
+Dinosaurs Seasons 3 & 4
+Gilmore Girls Season 4
+Buffy: The Chosen Collection
+Tru Calling
+Angel: Limited Edition Collectors Set

Jane in Progress


Home » Archives » February 2008 » Let's Say You Don't Like Shrimp...
[Previous entry: "Another Bite of That Onion"] [Next entry: "Metaphorical Stove Architecture"]

02/25/2008: Let's Say You Don't Like Shrimp...

I recently received such an interesting letter from Gentle Reader Maggie in Brooklyn. She writes to point out another variety for our menagerie of joke-types -- a favorite of her and her boyfriend. She says:

We were wondering if there's a specific writers' room term for a type of joke that we love. It happens when you cut to a scene and someone is in the middle of wrapping up a story, and the only line you hear gives you very clear, very funny picture of what the rest of the story was about.

She goes on to give some examples. One of them was from that Charles Barkley Super Bowl ad in which we hear him say, out of a cut, "...and that's why I never eat shrimp." Another is from "Pirates of the Caribbean" in which we hear Johnny Depp wrapping up a story with "...and then they made me their king."

Maggie is right that this is certainly a distinct type of joke. I love this joke. I remember particularly taking note of the "shrimp" line when I heard it. I don't think this kind of joke has been given a particular name, although every room invents some of their own terminology -- if a particular show used this kind of bit as a running gag, I'm certain they'd come up with a name for it. Maybe it's a Fragment Joke, since it's based on only hearing a fragment of the whole. Note that it's certainly the same joke if you only hear the start or the middle of a story. If you open a door just long enough to hear, "Now if I was to show you the OTHER buttock..." for example. That's the same joke.

These jokes are so effective because they make the audience do the work of inferring what they missed. They're certainly related to jokes like those in the old Bob Newhart routines in which we'd hear one side of a phone call or even an in-person conversation and have to infer what was being said or done. From his Driving Instructor Routine: All right, let's get up a bit more speed and gradually ease it into second... well, I didn't want to cover reverse this early....

Any time you can get the audience to do some of the work, you're getting them invested, and that's a great thing.

Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad


Get Blog Updates Via Email

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



February 2008

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Powered By Greymatter
Greymatter Forums

Home | News | Works | Biography | Frequently Asked Questions

Site design Copyright © PM Carlson
This is a fan site owned and operated entirely by PM Carlson with the cooperation and assistance of Jane Espenson. This site is not affiliated in any way with Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox or ABC.