Dude, Not Funny

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Some tropes reference things that really should not be played for laughs, but for some reason often are. One of the consequences of comedies using schadenfreude is that they can tread on subjects that are quite serious to some people.

The academic terms "dark humor," "black humor," or "tragic farce" apply to some examples, although the exact execution is somewhat different. Black Comedy is not about making jokes at the expense of groups, but rather about using Irony and Fatalism to make them seem amusing while still showing their seriousness. A prime example is Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, which ends with the protagonist's mother having a psychotic breakdown and killing her daughters' pet rabbit. The natural reaction to such a description is "Dude, not funny!" - but the way it's written, it is one of the funniest scenes in the entire play. (And after all, it was only a rabbit.)

How do you know if something deserves linking to this page? Well, it might be overused, funny, or nothing to most people. If just a few people cringe at something, well... if more people are amused than disgusted, then it's not justified to put a stop to it. But if a large number of people are offended or outright traumatized, well, to them, it is NOT. FUNNY.

Note that the fact something is Dude, Not Funny to some people does not mean that other people may not find it funny. Often happens when Black Comedy or Gallows Humor is mishandled. The creators may offer a "Just Joking" Justification, but this does not always soothe hurt feelings.

If something that was funny falls into this following some related event in the real world, see Funny Aneurysm Moment.

Compare Crosses the Line Twice, Black Comedy, Refuge in Audacity, and Funny Aneurysm Moment.

Contrast Actually Pretty Funny and Narm.

Examples of Dude, Not Funny include:

Anime and Manga

  • In One Piece, when Arlong's name is brought up, Brooke makes an Incredibly Lame Pun based off his name in front of Nami with Usopp kicking him suddenly for it. It should be noted that Brooke was present when the crew ran into Hatchan again and Usopp explains briefly to the crewmembers who didn't know about Nami's past about how her hometown was under the control of Arlong. So it is possible that Brooke had forgotten about the name or did not realize just how bad Arlong had treated Nami.
    • Also, the joke Sanji makes here about Robin's "docking". The Death Glare she gives him shows she is not amused.
    • Also, during the Punk Hazard Arc, Smoker and Tashigi are victims of a Freaky Friday Flip, courtesy of Trafalger Law's Ope-Ope Fruit powers. Luffy literally falls over laughing at the sight of this, but Smoker clearly does not find it funny.

Comic Books

  • In Platypus Comix's Family Guy parody, Herman calls his mistaking the fire station's lunch bell for a fire alarm "funnier than beating a homeless man to death." After the Cutaway Gag that features Herman finding enjoyment in physically abusing a homeless man, Herman's companion tells him in-universe that he didn't find the scene funny.


  • The movie Heathers had an in-universe example when Veronica's boyfriend J.D. cracks a joke at the funeral of two of their victims that they made look like a double-suicide and the little sister of one of the boys killed turns to look at them while crying. It's at that point, Veronica begins to realize how messed up she's becoming under J.D.'s influence.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick pretends to be offended by a racist joke one of his associates tells, though he's actually a virulent racist himself.
  • In Wag the Dog, the movie producer shows his pet musician (played by Willie Nelson) a political cartoon poking fun at the President's sex scandal. The musician immediately composes an impromptu song mocking the whole thing, but stops when he realizes that everyone else in the room (most of whom work directly for the President) is staring at him in horror.
  • At the beginning of Star Trek Generations, the officers are having a promotion party for Worf on the holodeck, where they're on an 18th-century naval ship. They make Worf walk to the end of the plank and jump for his new rank insignia, then Riker orders the computer to "remove the plank." The plank disappears, dropping Worf into the sea, and Riker jokes that he meant to say, "retract". After Crusher attempts to explain the humor to Data, he pushes her overboard.

LaForge: Data!
Data: (smirking) That was...
LaForge: ...not funny!

    • This serves as the catalyst for Data to have Geordi install his emotion chip, as if he cannot grasp a concept like humor, he will never be human. Though it was Actually Pretty Funny.
  • In Tropic Thunder Alpa makes a crack about a "dingo eating your baby" to Kirk Lazarus, which he is so offended by he almost breaks character.
  • During the astronaut tryouts in The Right Stuff, Alan Shepard frequently mimics 50s comedian Bill Dana's Mexican astronaut character "José Jiménez", but it eventually gets on the nerves of Gonzalez, the Mexican orderly, who tells him "me and my friends think your José Jiménez imitation is A-OK. But what you're doing with it is B-A-D."
  • In The Starving Games (a rather forgettable parody of The Hunger Games) the lottery is disrupted due to the official drawing lots that have been given juvenile 'gag names" like "Hugh Janus" and "Dean Gullberry". The assembled crowd seem to think this is Actually Pretty Funny until she angrily reminds them what will happen to whoever is selected. And it was clearly not funny in the meta sense either.


  • In one scene from Stephen King's novel Christine, a bunch of high school hoods are cruising and drinking beers after a school basketball game, and complaining that their team lost. At one point, one of the hoods complements the athleticism of the school's basketball star (in one of those "The rest of the team sucks, but this one guy is a good player" sorts of ways), who just happens to be black. The leader of the gang sneers, retorting, "I hate that fucking spade." This prompts one of the newer gang members to make a racial joke, to which the rest of the gang reacts with this. Specifically, the gang leader says, "I said I hated that spade. I got no problem with the rest of them..." and threatens to toss the "fucking bigot" out of his car at high speed. The new guy shuts up quickly.
  • Nicko Heap in Septimus Heap often gets criticized for this, havinbg an habit of not understanding the seriousness of a situation.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Girl who Hits Joey", Chandler has a fight with Monica, and proposes to her out of guilt. Monica says no, and the rest of the gang teases Chandler:

Joey: Hey Ross, will you pass me that knife?
Ross: No, I will not!
Joey: Oh, it's okay. You don't have to be so mean about it.
Ross: You're right, I'm sorry. Will you marry me?
Phoebe: Aw, and I was gonna ask you to marry me because I forgot to say hello to you last week.
Rachel: Oh no wait Pheebs, I think for something like that you just ask them to move in with you. But I'm not sure, Chandler?
Chandler: Okay, how long is this going to go on?
Monica: Well I think the length of teasing is directly related to how insane you were so, a long time.
Ross: This is fun. Hey Rach, remember that whole "We were on a break thing?" Well, I'm sorry, will you marry me? (nobody laughs)
Chandler: That's not funny.
Joey: That's not funny at all!
(they all get up and leave Ross)

  • In one episode of The Muppet Show, Fozzie makes the joke 'What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic? Half way!" Waldorf thinks it's funny, but not Statler - he was on the Titanic when it sank! (And, according to Waldorf, still has the dress he wore to get on a lifeboat.)

Fozzie: (backstage to Kermit) Just my luck, a Titanic survivor in the audience!

  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, one sketch, where an undertaker suggests cannibalism as an alternative to interment or cremation ends with the studio audience storming the stage in disgust (which, of course, is part of the show).

Newspaper Comics

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • In Greek Mythology a well known myth involves Hephaestus rigging his bed with a magical net, trapping his unfaithful wife Aphrodite and her lover Ares with it, and then calling the other Olympian gods to witness it. Not all of them came (and Zeus quickly left in disgust), but Apollo and Hermes jumped at the opportunity to do so and laugh at Ares. Eventually, however, Apollo stops doing so and asks Hermes if they truly have a right to laugh at him, seeing as they’d have done the same thing. Hermes replies by saying he would have even if he had known about the trap. Oddly, given what happened in the aftermath of the story, Aphrodite seems to take that as a compliment.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect 3 during the mission on Sur'Kesh, the party crosses paths with a rampaging yahg. Shepard and Garrus can't resist the opportunity to crack jokes about the last yahg they encountered, which teammate Liara T'soni replaced as Shadow Broker after she and Shepard killed him. Liara does not find their wisecracking funny:

Shepard: Watch out, there goes the next Shadow Broker.
Garrus: I could swear I heard him muttering "T'Soni!" the whole way.
Liara: Not funny!

    • Done seriously later when Joker cracks a joke about the asari after their homeworld, Thessia, falls. Shepard usually lets those kinds of jokes slide but in this case s/he's at her lowest point and blames him/herself for the fall of Thessia and not getting crucial information and proceeds to snap at Joker.
    • EDI gets this response multiple times from crew members as she attempts humor, usually because her humor involves jokes about enslaving humanity or "accidentally" causing life-threatening malfunctions on the ship.
  • Also from BioWare, Dragon Age II has lots of snarky dialogue options (usually the one in the middle) which tend to involve cracking jokes at very serious situations. Sometimes your party members or NPCs will tell you that they're Dude, Not Funny, but there's at least one example of Hawke realizing that himself/herself mid-joke: an attempt to reassure Anders about having accidentally given himself a Super-Powered Evil Side by saying "What's the worst that could happen? You turn into an abomination and start...oh. Bad joke."
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Guy is surprisingly afraid of women for the first half or so of the game, though to be specific, every tiem a woman comes into close contact with him, he recoils in fear or starts screaming. Everyone, even in-game laughed at this and thought it funny, but also wanted to help him get over his gynephobia. Then the truth comes out to why he's so afraid of women. His sister and the maids from his childhood home threw themselves onto Guy to protect him as they were all killed by invading soldiers, and when Guy came to, he was smothered in a pile of dead bodies. Nobody was laughing after that.

Web Comics

  • The web-comic Fans featured a murder investigation involving a crossword puzzle convention. When crossword fan Hilda makes a comment about the case while putting on her glasses, Marc shouts "YEEAAAAAHH!", a la the Roger Daltrey shriek from "Won't Get Fooled Again" in CSI: Miami. He gets roundly chewed out for it.
  • Questionable Content had an arc where a dude Angus started making jokes about suicide to Faye, whose father killed himself in front of her when she was a kid. When she tells him off, he initially doesn't believe her, and Faye realizes that her constant sarcasm has "set an unfortunate precedent". Angus also calls out Faye for making jokes at his friend Marigold's expense.

Web Original

  • Newgrounds.com has an entire collection for flash submissions called "BASTARDS" that is devoted to this trope.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Room, Mark tells Johnny about a girl he knew who was dating several guys at the same time. One of them finds out and beats her up so badly that she ends up in hospital. Johnny's response is to laugh and say "What a story, Mark"! The critic comments on this, saying "That's not funny, you sick fuck".
  • Skippy's List has examples:

93. Nerve gas is not funny.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons,
    • In after McBane in a TV movie snaps a Commie-Nazi pilot's neck despite the latter surrendering, Marge jokes that that's "breakneck speed." Bart responds by coldly telling her that a man just died.
    • Speaking of McBain, Bart and Lisa's reaction to Rainer Wolfcastle's Up Late With McBain (a parody of Saturday Night Live with homophobic attempts at humor and an announcer dressed like a Nazi): "The Fox Network has sunk to a new low."
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter invokes it in the episode "Back to the Woods". After James Woods steals his identity, Peter takes revenge by stealing Woods's identity and ruining his career by stating on David Letterman's show that he's working on a comedy based on 9/11 called September 11, 2000-FUN!. The film, he claims, focuses on a window washer who sees the plane coming toward him while he wipes the window of the Twin Towers and exclaims, "Aw, c'mon!"

Peter: And the plane is voiced by David Spade.
James Woods: What?! I would never work with David Spade!

  • In the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, having been told that he must kill Fire Lord Ozai, says he can't go around wiping out people he doesn't like. Sokka responds that he can because he's the Avatar and Aang angrily tells him that this isn't a joke.
  • Futurama; according to Farnsworth, "astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all." Unfortunately, the new name - Urectum - isn't much better.
  • In South Park, it is eventually revealed that Kenny's frequent deaths are not a case of Negative Continuity, he is indeed unable to die, possibly due to his parents being members of the Cult of Cthulhu (they only go for the free beer). Kenny is not happy about this, as he rants in one of the rare times he talks:

Kenny: Nobody even remembers me dying! I go to school the next day and everybody is just like, 'Oh, hey Kenny!' even if they just saw me decapitated with their own eyes!