Self-Deprecation

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"I've got a lot of people to thank, because you don't win a Razzie without a lot of help from a lot of people..."
"He had the kind of face only a mother could love, if that mother was blind in one eye and had that kind of milky film over the other... but still, he was my identical twin."
Ryan Stiles to Colin Mochrie, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Sure we all have egos to some degree, save for severe psychological problems, but sometimes you just may not feel like being self centered, or ethnocentric or nationalistic. Sometimes you may just feel like cracking a joke that says, "Ha! Take That, Me/Us!" This is the essence of self-deprecation.

This doesn't always work, though. Make these jokes in front of those actually feeling in those aforementioned moods, and they won't see the joke. You may get accused of being "self hating" or even a "traitor". This, of course, means that oppressive regimes are right out, unless those jokes are too ingrained in the culture, like in Soviet Russia. See also Some of My Best Friends Are X, which can also be invoked by members of group X, but rarely works better there than it does in other settings.

The reasoning behind using humor in this way varies between media but will most of the time be used to relax the audience and let them know that your comedy isn't laser targeted towards one group. (Unless Self-Deprecation is a staple of your comedy.)

Note that this isn't about whether other people are allowed to make fun of you. Those would be different tropes (related to N-Word Privileges). Nor is it Heroic Self-Deprecation, which is actually putting yourself down for real.

Self-Deprecation can devolve into Compliment Fishing. Remember that the dividing line between the two is up to the listener, not the speaker.

A Super-Trope to Our Product Sucks.

Compare Biting the Hand Humor, Self-Parody, Who Writes This Crap?, Who Would Want to Watch Us?, Take That, Audience!, Offending the Creator's Own, and Creator Career Self-Deprecation.

Contrast These Tropes Love to Brag.

Examples of Self-Deprecation include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The original ads for the Volkswagen Beetle constantly mocked the car for its small size. Allegedly this violated one of the unwritten rules of advertising, "Don't mock the product." The ad campaign was a smash success.
    • This was the famous "Think Small" ad campaign of 1959. This, and its successor of 1960 ("Lemon") started the so-called "Creative Revolution" in advertising: put the creative guys in charge of selling the ad. This ad series gets a Shout-Out in Mad Men: in Season 1, set in 1960, which Don Draper does not approve (talking derisively about its creator, Julian Koenig). By Season 4 (starting in November 1964), his ads are more or less in the same vein.
    • Volkswagen has used this fairly often, including in this ad for the Karmann Ghia sports car. "It's the most economical sports car you can buy. It's just not the most powerful."
    • Skoda ads have played on their reputation by having people see a new Skoda and refuse to believe that such a great car could be made by such an awful company. The tagline is "It's a Skoda. Honest."
      • Skoda, incidentally, are owned by Volkswagen.
      • Hyundai did something similar, minus the humor. One of their slogans was "Hyundai. Yes, Hyundai."
    • The mocking car for its smallness seems kind of strange now, what's with cities getting larger more people being able to afford a car. Many people take the ability to park over performance.
      • The Fifties and Sixties were a different time. Take a gander at...well... any American car from that era. You don't even have to look at the muscle cars; even the coupes were like boats on dry land.
  • Michael Bay is known to indulge in a bit of this, a good example being this commercial.
  • Billy Mays's commercial for ESPN360.com is a parody of his infomercials.
    • The ESPN Sports Center ads are usually at the expense of the athletes, the anchors or the company itself.
  • Burger King's ad for a breakfast sandwich that's a ripoff of a McDonald's one. Also counts as Refuge in Audacity and Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • One BBC commercial has the voiceover saying the following.

Voiceover: We lost our empire, our food is lousy, our football team sucks, but our television kicks ass!

  • The Super Bowl XLV ad for Best Buy's "Buyback" program shows Ozzy Osbourne being replaced as a pitchman by Justin Bieber. Ozzy asks "What's a Beiber?" and a stagehand responds "I dunno, kinda looks like a girl." The stagehand is Justin Beiber in a wig.
  • The infamous "Head On, apply directly to the forehead" commercials have been superseded by a variant where the product's mantra is interrupted by people excoriating the repetitiveness of the commercial.
  • Miracle Whip has a new commercial that falls into this; half of it is various celebrities praising Miracle Whip, while the other half is other celebrities talking about how disgusting it is.
  • Some years ago, a Dutch brand of condiments had a special offer where their products would come with free napkin-rings with funny limericks written on them. In the commercial, a lady was shown reading the napkin-ring with an increasingly obvious lack of interest, then throwing it in the trash.
  • The official slogan of Buckley's cough medicine is: "It tastes awful. And it works."
  • Stan Freberg created a memorable series of ads for the Sunsweet prune company, emphasizing what people dislike most about the dried fruit: the wrinkles and the pits. They boasted that they'd gotten rid of the pits; the wrinkles were another matter.
  • Vince Offer, previous commercial pitchman for the Sham Wow!, has been pitching commercials for a product called the Schticky. At one point in the commercial, he says "Use it during moments you'd like to forget!" as a mugshot is taken of him, referencing his earlier arrest for assaulting a prostitute.
  • A Capital One ad ends with one of the vikings asking Alec Baldwin if he can play games on his smartphone; he responds "Just not on the tarmac, believe me!" This refers to an infamous incident where Baldwin got thrown off an airplane for refusing to stop playing Words with Friends long enough for the plane to take off.


Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • Done often in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei - for example, listing "great failures in a man's life", which was a short biography of the author, the last point being "Creating the Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei anime".
    • The second OVA for season 3 is a never ending string of jokes at Studio Shaft poking fun at themselves and their own series. Such as thanking viewers who "came across the opening and didn't change the channel".
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki has done this every time he has some free space in his character dossiers [1] or his "Free Space" sections, particularly in his series Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Mitsuru Adachi does this a lot. His characters make fun of him for the lack of variety in his drawings, often respond with "who?" when he gets brought up, and most of the time when he draws himself into the background he's being chased by angry editors. Also, the cast members in H2 go to an Adachi art show at one point. They all agree that it's terrible.
  • The first episode of Excel Saga has Il Palazzo assigning Excel to start killing off all manga-ka, starting with their own creator, Koshi Rikdo. The pastiche of a self-insert that she encounters is Too Dumb to Live, anyway.
    • Plus, he's singing a little song to himself about how manga-ka are degenerate scum who are as fleas to the people of Earth.
  • Hidekaz Himaruya, the author of Axis Powers Hetalia, once jokes both about himself and his fans concerning his chicken-scratch (that gives scanlators a very difficult time).

Author's note: If you can read my handwriting, you have too much free time.

    • Quoth France in the Gag Dub upon seeing America's drawings of them; "Those drawings are even worse than our actual animation!"
  • Used in Seitokai no Ichizon. In the first scene, when the cast are discussing how to adapt their own series to an anime (it's that kind of show), Mafuyu reads a negative review of their own light novel from Amazon.
    • At another point, Ken says that he likes the harem ending because "everyone is happy." The rest of the council calls that a stupid idea. Ken checks a copy of the series' first light novel, stating that in there they said he was alright. The girls call their idea in their own source material stupid.
  • Gintama often makes fun of itself by proxy of Kintama, a Jump manga and anime written by a gorilla featuring characters and stories that mimic Gintama. According to Gintoki, Kintama's art sucks, the dialogues are too long, and the characters lack distinctive traits.
  • The new season of Darker than Black contains this immortal line: "You've got to be kidding me! Who wants a gag character like that these days?!" ...spoken by the Plucky Comic Relief.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, Miyako says, "Nothing happens around here that would make a good manga." The series is all about things that happen around there.
  • The creator of One Piece gives himself one in a movie short. In it, he's called as a ringer to make the deciding point in a soccer match. He kicks the ball and...it's easily caught by Coby (who at the time was one of the weakest characters in the series). Not only that but he announces his failure in the commentator box before he is promptly beaten up by his team members, all of them bad guys from previous arcs who had already been defeated by Luffy.
    • Or in One Piece proper, Luffy when fighting Arlong when Arlong questions what he can do, overlapping with Badass Boast

Luffy: *After picking up and swinging swords around wildly* Of course I can't use swords! *Scene shows Zoro*
Luffy: And I can't navigate either! *Scene shows Nami*
Luffy: I don't know how to cook! *Scene shows Sanji*
Luffy: I've never lied to anyone before! *Scene shows Usopp*
Arlong: A man with no self confidence who doesn't think he can do anything isn't a captain! Why do they follow someone as useless as you?
Luffy: Because what I can do is KICK YOUR ASS.


Audiobooks[edit | hide]

  • In the audiobook version of Jon Stewart's America (The Book), there are these gems: "Stephen Colbert is the Arthur Schlesinger Professor of American Studies at Harvard University. He is personally unpleasant." and "Stephen Colbert has received the Werner Heisenberg Prize for Excellence in Theoretical Mathematics seven consecutive years, yet can barely feed himself." Guess who narrates these parts.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Stan Lee has remarked that Spider-Man regular J. Jonah Jameson was based off of how he imagined the fans viewed him: a cantankerous, money-hungry old man. Most comics fans see Lee as an affable grandfather figure, so in this case the Self-Deprecation didn't quite work.
  • In Marc Guggenheim's Civil War: Choosing Sides, Mac Gargan is discussing selling his life story. He wants Guggenheim to do the movie, then says "No, the other Guggenheim, the one who wrote that hockey movie", simultaneously putting down Marc himself, and giving a Shout-Out to his brother Eric.
  • Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen's early-2000's resurrection of The Defenders. In addition to portraying its principal characters as supreme Jerk Asses who eventually decide to take over the world so it won't need to be defended (and, more importantly, so they won't have to deal with one another), the series invoked Stylistic Suck via references to Marvel's incredibly goofy Silver Age giant monster comics, and one of its covers proudly boasted a Wizard Magazine quote proclaiming The Defenders to be "the worst comic ever produced."
  • French cartoonist Gotlib never misses an opportunity to make fun of his own limits as an artist. For example, while discussing the Italian westerns, he drew a typical protagonist of such films which suspiciously looked like a famous actor... and commented it with "Any resemblances with Clint Eastwood would be one hell of a fluke." A jab at his (according to him) poor skills in caricaturing real persons.
  • Jhonen Vasquez, big time. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is a huge source of Old Shame, one Squee comic sends the titular character on a rant about how sometimes it seems like his life is controlled by a "suckish cartoon guy who can't draw", and one Invader Zim DVD commentary track has one member of the voice cast remark that "Jhonen is genius, although I couldn't say that in front of him because he'd beat me up or something." Back when he was planning on making a movie (whatever happened to that?) he said it'd be "Coming soon to a bargain bin near you."
    • For bonus points, he regularly uses the margins of his own comic to snark at elements of his writing and art he's unfond of. During a particularly melodramatic bit of Wangst from Johnny, for instance, a caption remarks that he's "regressed back to stupid teen angst mode"; his caption to some odd flying creatures in the background of heaven admits he has no idea what they are or what he was thinking.
  • During J. Michael Straczynski's run on Spider-Man, one comic included a security guard mocking Babylon 5.
  • Mad Magazine called its writing staff "The Usual Gang of Idiots", published letters that insulted the magazine creatively, and often included shots on itself in articles. They were also well-known for putting pictures in their letters column of actors tearing up copies of issues that parody something they were in.
  • Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost put a grave of "Kyle Yost" in one of their comics.
  • In Ex Machina, Hundred interviews Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris for the possibility of them making a graphic novel style biography of him...then decides to get Garth Ennis and Jim Lee instead.
  • In the first issue of Young Justice, the Power Trio have nightmares in which strange and irrational things happen to them ... things which strangely echo Peter David's work on Aquaman, Supergirl and The Incredible Hulk.
  • One series of Dilbert strips had Dilbert go on a date under Dogbert's coaching—which means he spends the whole date grunting and agreeing. When his date compliments him, he uses another coached response -- "Gosh, I'm not good at anything."
    • Another run of strips had Dogbert as the charismatic leader of the vegetarian lobby. Since this was clearly a bit of an Author Tract by the vegetarian Adams, he started off by establishing that the reason the vegetarians need a charismatic leader is that they're all "scrawny weaklings".
  • Pearls Before Swine
    • The occasional Sunday strips featuring puns so awful that the final panel then shows Rat threatening the strip's creator Stephan Pastis with death.
    • Pastis' has many cameos, where he's either portrayed as a pathetic loser, a Small Name, Big Ego type or both (one strip even had Rat beat him up with a baseball bat after Pastis had made a blatant plug of one of his strip compilations).
    • Pastis goes so far as to draw himself smoking cigarettes despite the fact he never smokes, not because it looks cool, but because he thinks it makes him look like a loser.
    • During a brief arc of Get Fuzzy where Darby Conly was somehow getting his hands on advance copies of the next day's Pearls Before Swine and crudely taping in cutouts of his own characters, Darby did it too. The strip where Stephan called him to ask him to cease and decist depicted Stephan as neat, polite, and professional, while Darby himself was a rude, remorseless slob who couldn't even be bothered to remember Stephan's name.
    • A later arc was built around the premise that the comic strip was so offensive that the American Government ordered the comic to be transformed into something akin to Family Circus. Stephan Pastis fails and gets put on trial, with Rat as his lawyer. Rat actively sabotages Stephen's case.
  • In one Bloom County strip, minor character Yaz Pistachio asks Opus to give her just one name worse than her own.

Opus: (thinks for a moment) Berkeley Breathed.
Yaz: Okay, name two.

    • There was also the strip where Opus pitched the idea for Bloom County for a comic strip for his local paper. The editor's response?

Milo: Needs work.

Joe Quesada: Tim, Axel, do you guys still read the comics we publish?
Axel Alonso: We still publish comics, Joe?
Tom Brevoot: First, it's Tom, and second, I like that one with different color rings. Do we do that?

  • Garth Ennis here refers Two Thousand AD having its best ten years "before they got desperate and started employing people like me."
  • Evan Dorkin. Although he never holds back on letting people have it the biggest butt of all his jokes is always himself.
  • One issue of the current New Avengers featured Nighthawk telling the titular team that there is no reason for them to be called Avengers:

Nighthawk: I don't get it! Clearly you guys are The Defenders, but you're calling yourselves The Avengers??? I mean, is it me? Am I the crazy one?

  • Ben Templeton appears in the Wormwood Gentleman Corpse issue "Segue to Destruction" at the Dead Alley, where Wormwood describes him as "my biographer". None of the cast have any respect for him at all, and mock his defensively citing his three Eisner nominations: "No idea what those are, but he seems obsessed with them."


Film[edit | hide]

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoys making fun of himself.
    • Last Action Hero can be seen as one very protracted example.
    • Twins and Junior. Very few actors besides him could have pulled Junior off, although he had a beautiful chemistry with gifted actors Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson.
    • There's also the Jackie Chan version of Around the World in Eighty Days, in which Schwarzenegger plays a self-obsessed sheik. How self-obsessed? He has a statue of himself displayed on a pedestal in his hallway. When the plucky heroine is running away from his unwanted marriage proposal, she bumps into the pedestal, causing it to tilt dangerously. Arnold's reaction: "No! My statue of me!" The heroine then gets away from him by holding the statue hostage until he agrees to let her go.[2]
  • The League of Gentlemen movie Apocalypse is a Take That to the League themselves, displaying them as petty, spiteful and childish. Ironically, the characters from the actual programme become more developed as they realise their behaviour is based solely on the way they're written and not on themselves as people.
  • Near the end of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Comeau is heard in the background saying "The comic book is ALWAYS better than the movie."
  • In Steel, Shaq is tasked to throw an object into a small opening near the ceiling. His Fourth Wall breaking response? "I never make these!"
    • He also fails to make an actual basket at the beginning of the film.
  • In one of Uwe Boll's better movies, Postal, the German director has an appearance as himself in a theme park he created called "Lil Germany", which is full of Nazi themes. During an interview, he makes jokes at his own expense, such as funding his terrible movies with Nazi gold and being aroused by all of the little children around him. A little later, Vince Desi, the creator of the Postal games, tackles Uwe Boll and attempts to strangle him for what he's done to his games.
  • Every Mel Brooks movie. Ever. Usually featuring a caricature of a Jew played by Brooks (who is in fact Jewish) himself.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie, Karen Sympathy comments that Bullwinkle's jokes had gotten really corny. Bullwinkle's response? "No they haven't. They were always this bad. When you were a kid you didn't notice."
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A meta example. When Indy confronts Panama Hat and tells him that the Cross of Coronado "belongs in a museum", Panama Hat retorts with: "So do you!" He's saying this to a character in a movie from 1989, who's an obvious throwback to action heroes from the 1930s.
  • In Roxanne, C.D. is unimpressed by a heckler's insult of "big-nose" and one-ups him by delivering twenty superior insults.
  • The BBC documentary Knuckle: Bare Fist Fighting shows Irish Travelers using self deprecation to insult each other. Each prospective boxer loudly insists that he's "no good" at boxing... but he'll still beat the tar out of the rival clan's champion.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear introduces the setup early in the book for a ridiculous tongue-twisting punchline much later. One character comments on what an elaborate setup that was for such a lame joke and the other sadly agrees, "I don't know how he gets away with it.", which was a line from The Goon Show.
  • Fforde has nothing on Robert Rankin, who constantly breaks the fourth wall to self-complain about plot holes, stupid running gags, and absolutely ridiculous plot devices (Elvis with a time-travelling sprout in his head has to kill the Antichrist! Yeah!). At one point he actually inserted himself, writing the novel in a bar, in the novel itself.
  • The Cairo Jim books (starring a Captain Ersatz slash Affectionate Parody of Indiana Jones) by Geoffrey McSkimming regularly quote negative reviews on the back cover... said negative reviews written by the author himself from the perspective of the books' main villain.
  • Similarly, some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books have a quote from The BBC's Late Review: "Doesn't even write in chapters... a complete amateur... hasn't a clue..."
  • Iain Banks's extremely controversial first novel The Wasp Factory went one better, by reprinting every negative review the book had received, alternated with more positive reviews. Some of the negative reviews were hilariously extreme, with one critic claiming that the decision to publish the novel showed that civilization had come to an end.
  • In one of the books of the Tamuli, David Eddings takes the opportunity to have one of the heroes describe heroic fantasy as being written by sub-par authors. Guess which genre contains vast numbers of very thick books with the name "Eddings" prominently emblazoned on the cover?
  • Older Than Print: Geoffrey Chaucer does this all the time; many of his dream poems include a moment (or three) where his Author Avatar narrator is castigated for being fat, dorky, and a writer of love poetry although he doesn't get any himself, and in The Canterbury Tales his pilgrim persona, when it's his turn to tell a tale, tells first a mock-romance that's so silly that the Host cuts it off before he can finish, and then a long, boring moral tale.
  • Chaucer's inspiration and near-contemporary Boccaccio did this a fair amount. The most famous is in his epilogue to the Decameron, an extremely funny but also obscene defense of his work. He responds to those who accuse him of being "light" by saying that he had been "weighed many times"—a clear reference to the fact that he was rather fat—and pretends to be flattered by the claim that he had the "sweetest tongue" in Italy by playing up the Double Entendre (to be brief, he has a conversation with a woman who talks of his "sweet tongue", by which they actually mean "he totally ate her out").
  • The Illuminatus Trilogy features, as a running plot thread, a dialogue between a book reviewer and his editor about a book full of "conspiracy nonsense" and "gratuitous sex scenes" which seems to strongly parallel the novel itself.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (from Mostly Harmless, but it sums up the series' attitude to "Britishness"):

"It's just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis or, what's that strange thing you British play?"
"Er," said Tricia, "cricket? Self-loathing?"
"Parliamentary democracy."

    • In And Another Thing, Eoin Colfer gets meta about it: after describing the five entries in the Guide about the Guide itself as "a lengthy article, accompanied by many hours of video and audio files, and some dramatic reconstructions by some quite well known actors", it adds that there is also "a text only appendix, with absolutely no audio and not so much as a frame of video shot by a student director who made the whole thing in his bedroom and paid his drama soc mates in sandwiches."

"This is the story of that appendix."

  • Dan Brown in The Lost Symbol. Robert Langdon refers to a book heavily implied to be Digital Fortress as a "mediocre thriller".
  • Isaac Asimov's Azazel and Black Widowers stories often had his characters insulting him. It's especially Egregious in the former, as those stories always begin with the author having lunch with a character named George, who constantly insults him—and then proceeds to run out on the check (sometimes even borrowing money from Asimov) at the end of the story.
    • In fact, just in case the reader missed it (the stories never explicitly state that the narrator is Asimov himself), he makes a point of saying so in the introduction to the anthology.
    • In the foreword to one of the Black Widowers stories, he acknowledged that when he portrayed the character of Manny Rubin as constantly insulting his "friend" Dr Asimov ("Just because I lend him some money, that makes him a friend?") the person he was really being unfair on wasn't himself but Lester del Rey (who Rubin was based on).
    • The novel Murder at the ABA includes several insult exchanges between Asimov (self-inserted as a minor character) and the protagonist Darius Just (who is based on Harlan Ellison).
  • The second book of Matthijs van Boxsel's Encyclopedia of Stupidity consists of a list of the most stupid scientific theories published in the Netherlands and Flanders. He has included his own books on the list.
  • Robert Goldsborough wrote a number of Nero Wolfe novels after series creator Rex Stout's death. The final one features a victim who had been writing another author's character. At one point, Archie Goodwin slams the victim's writing. The motive for the murder is that said victim plagiarised his last novel.
  • I Am A Cat, Natsume Soseki's social satire of late Meiji-era Japan, not only features a major character bearing more than a passing resemblance to the author who comes off about as well as any other character in the book (i.e. not at all), but has a passage in which this character and several others directly bash Soseki's other work. (Since none of these characters are at all likeable, it may be that we're supposed to disagree with them, which would make this either a Take That at critics or a roundabout form of self-praise. It's hard to tell.)
  • Robert A. Heinlein takes a shot at himself in The Number Of The Beast. At a point when the four main characters are polling each other on their favourite authors, one asks about Heinlein. Another promply snorts and admits to having read Stranger In A Strange Land. "My God, the things some writers will do for money!"
  • Edward Lear engages in a few pot-shots directed at himself in his nonsense-filled poetry. At least one of his poems is a spot of Self-Deprecation.
  • The loser protagonist of A Confederacy of Dunces is, when you know his life story, very very clearly based on the author, John Kennedy Toole.
  • Brandon Sanderson, via the good ol' Literary Agent Hypothesis in Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, sequel to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Just after revealing a major spoiler which is, in fact, completely false, Alcatraz narrates thusly:

you didn't want to hear that? I'm sorry. You'll just have to forget that I wrote it. There are several convenient ways to do that. I hear hitting yourself on the head with a blunt object can be very effective. You should try using one of Brandon Sanderson's fantasy novels. They're big enough, and goodness knows, that really is the only useful thing to do with them.

    • In Sanderson's novel Elantris, there's a bit of stealth Self-Deprecation. Apparently a while back Sanderson wrote a Beowulf-style epic called Wyrn the King, then decided it was pretty horrible and abandoned it. In Elantris, Wyrn shows up as the national epic of the evil Fjordell Empire, and the heroes at one point discuss it's literary merits (or rather, the lack thereof).
  • Stephen King does this to himself in The Dark Tower, as his Author Avatar character is a lazy Jerkass who can't be bothered to finish the Dark Tower series.
  • The Author's Note at the beginning of Dave Stone's second Virgin New Adventures novel, Death And Diplomacy, describes his first, Sky Pirates!, as just a joke book (which it was. And it was awesome) "gags being the lowest form of tragicomedy, but the highest tragicomic form of which this author is capable." He goes on to say that Death And Diplomacy is a comedy, which is different from jokes because "for one thing, a comedy doesn't have to be funny". The following 280 pages prove him more than capable of doing something that isn't just gags, while at the same time being extremely funny.
  • Richard Morgan, author of the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy about a future where the mind can be digitised and transferred to other bodies, also wrote Market Forces which takes place Twenty Minutes Into the Future. The protagonist in Market Forces is trying to relax and so picks up a book in which the main character digitises his mind and swaps into other bodies. He decides the book is too weird and unrealistic to bother reading and discards it.
  • Harry Turtledove is pretty fond of this. His characters frequently disparage the genre of alternative historical fiction. In Colonization: Aftershocks, one of his characters also describes the study of Byzantine history, the field in which Turtledove earned a Ph.D., as "uselessly arcane."
  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido, a character looking through another's PADD finds a complete collection of Battlecruiser Vengeance novels. She can't understand why anyone would read novels based on a drama series.
  • Halting State by Charles Stross has a scene in a Dungeons & Dragons-based MMORPG, where the characters fight a slaad (i.e., a giant chaos frog) and then discuss what a ridiculous monster it is. Stross wrote the magazine article for 1st-edition D&D that slaadi originally appeared in.
  • Anthony Trollope, in his role as a Post Office Surveyor, was responsible for introducing pillar boxes to Britain. In He Knew He Was Right, the character of Miss Stanbury considers the pillar box outside her house to be "a most hateful thing", and has rants against "chucking [letters] in an iron stump" rather than entrusting them to a postal employee.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: In the books Payback, Sweet Revenge and Hide And Seek, the South is essentially derided for being sleazy and stupid while pretending to be genteel and high-class. What makes all these instances this trope is the fact that the author is a Southern woman herself, and it's possible that she is only showing what other people's opinion of the South is.
  • As first-person narrator of Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie often cheerfully lampshades his Upper Class Twit status. He may be stupid, but at least he's self-aware.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

George Burns "20 years ago I made an investment of $2.00 that has paid off a million times over in the years since. I bought a marrage license.

  • Played with in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Faith (in Buffy's body) attacks Buffy (who is in Faith's body) - Faith has issues, but here she is literally beating herself crying out that she is sick and disgusting.
    • Oz is modest to a fault about his musical talent - Xander asks if it's hard to play the guitar, he shrugs "Not the way I play it." When bandmate Devon suggests they need roadies since other bands have them, Oz replies "Other bands know more than three chords."
  • Season 3 of Veronica Mars had quite a bit more Product Placement put in it by creator Rob Thomas than previous seasons. In the second-to-the-last episode ever, after two Product Placements in a row, this conversation happened:

Mac: Hey, did anyone else hear there's gonna be a Matchbox 20 reunion show?
Piz: So? Rob Thomas is a whore.
Mac: Yeah.

  • iCarly: Some of the iCarly writers themselves cameo in the very weird clips (i.e. shrimps up the nose, biting off heads of dolls) that the trio shows whenever they have a technical difficulty.
    • Andrew Hill Newman, one of the show's writers plays as Mr. Henning in iGo Nuclear, where his hippie looks garner himself most of the jokes and insults from his students and Spencer, a Ridgeway alumna. Special mention is that Newman himself co-wrote the said episode. Newman also voices George, the "sentient" Bra who tells Ghost Stories (which are actually NOT horror stories) who is also poked fun by Carly and Sam in their webshows.
    • The "iHave a Question" segments, which sometimes actually answer a question and usually just poke fun at the webshow's silliness.
    • The Random Debates usually start well, then the debaters will suddenly change topic (as early as Round 2), as far as their arguments are not anymore related to the topics they defend. Hilarity Ensues considering the context of the skit's title.
  • During its Dork Age, X-Play absolutely beat this trope into the ground in regards to Adam Sessler. This probably wouldn't have been so bad, except 1) every other joke on the show was about how pathetic he was, and 2) Sessler is actually an intelligent and well-spoken person, but the show made him look like a complete idiot and undercut his credibility.
  • An episode of The Daily Show featured Lewis Black talking about how we shouldn't let celebrities teach us political views. For examples, he shows pictures of Tom Cruise, Oprah... and himself.
    • Also when he discusses the Jews, although this may be more related to N-Word Privileges.
    • Jon Stewart has also struck at his own past selves on more than one occasion. He mocks himself for his past condemnation of an NRA convention near Columbine High School as well as for his past commendation of conservative activist James O'Keefe.
  • Even House has a surprising amount of these, considering that he's got a huge ego and calls himself "almost always eventually right". While he's very sure of his medical and observational skills, he shows much deprecation on the other aspects of his life. He calls himself a "lonely misanthropic drug addict" and says he should've died in the bus crash instead of Amber. He once tells Cameron that she wants to date him only because he's damaged. The man obviously has huge issues of self-worth.

House: You don't love, you need. And now that your husband is dead, you're looking for your new charity case. That's why you're going out with me. I'm twice your age, I'm not great looking, I'm not charming, I'm not even nice. What I am, is what you need. I'm damaged.

His own subconscious is positively nasty to him, especially here:

Hallucination Amber: (as House is [hallucinating] detoxing with the help of Cuddy, and spots a Vicodin pill lying on the floor) You're pathetic. If you want the pill, just send her home. But you can't because that would be admitting defeat to her. Now, this is interesting. If you take the pill, you don't deserve her. If you secretly take the pill, you don't deserve anyone.

    • House and his subconscious actually seem to despise one another. In the episode No Reason, House gets shot and hallucinates that he wakes up in the ICU next to the man who shot him. Over the course of the episode, each one gives the other a scathing Reason You Suck Speech.
  • Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway? often makes jokes about his own baldness. Everyone else also often makes jokes about his baldness... Everybody also makes jokes about the fact that people make jokes about his baldness. On occasion, they make jokes about making jokes about making jokes about his baldness. He wasn't even completely bald at the time of the show!
    • In a similar vein, Drew Carey often made jokes about his own weight (as did everyone else). A couple of them were reactions to Colin's own bald jokes. For a Scenes From a Hat involving unsuccessful personal ads:

Colin: "Slightly balding superhero...."
Drew: Yeah, slightly. And I'm slightly overweight.

    • "World's Worst person to be stuck on a desert island with." Drew Carey was the first to pick a role... as himself.
    • On this particular show lampooning oneself is often the back door out of getting teased even worse by the other cast members, and is even met by sympathy from the audience on most occasions.
    • A Running Gag for Scenes From A Hat was where an insulting suggestion was read (say, "People You Wouldn't Want To Meet At A Nudist Colony") and one or more of the cast would walk up as themselves.
  • An episode of CSI has a victim who is working on a "darker and edgier" version of a cheesy sci-fi show. In one scene, a fan shouts "YOU SUCK!" at the victim. That fan was played by Ronald D. Moore, executive producer of the darker and edgier Battlestar Galactica Reimagined remake.
    • In fact, most of the cast from BSG comes together as a nod to knowing how they had alienated the former fans. And Ellen Tigh is the murderer of Not Ronald D. Moore
  • In the Arrested Development episode "Spring Breakout" the program Scandalmakers is described thusly by Ron Howard's narration:
    • "Due to poor acting, the burden of the story was placed on the narrator. [...] He was actually found in a hole near the house, but this inattention to detail was typical of the laziness the show's narrator was known for. [...] Real shoddy narrating, just pure crap."
    • "In fact, Mr. Attell was portraying Tobias' actual never-nude affliction, but this perplexed the Scandalmakers' audience due to the unfocused nature of the narrator's explanation."
    • Later in the episode, "Notice it wasn't something the narrator said."
    • Alternately this is the Arrested Development narrator feeling threatened by the Scandalmakers one and attacking it gratuitously.
  • From the Red Dwarf episode "Quarantine":

Lister: (sighs) We're a real Mickey-Mouse operation, aren't we?
Cat: Mickey Mouse!? We ain't even Betty Boop!

    • "Back to Earth" has a character criticise the fictional show's use of Psi-Scan. Although given the Psi-Scan's response, this may have been more Take That, Critics!...
  • When James May joined Top Gear in season 2, Jeremy Clarkson introduced him as a "complete imbecile." May then presented a segment about how no intelligent person would buy a luxury car out of a magazine just to say he owned one—and then showed off his own Bentley T2, admitting he'd bought it so he could own a Bentley and faithfully listing all the ways it had made his life worse.
    • The show itself has the motto of "Top Gear - Ambitious but rubbish!".
    • Jeremy Clarkson consistently refers to Top Gear as "That poky little motoring programme on BBC 2" and occasionally to himself as "a fat balding idiot" or words to that effect.
  • In the New Zealand series Pulp Sport, every third episode has some sort of reference to them being derivative and terrible, while every season finale ends with Bill and Ben being Fired.
  • Larry David, of Curb Your Enthusiasm, when accused of being a "self-hating Jew", answered: "I do hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish."
  • The concept of Wormhole X-Treme! as a Show Within a Show for Stargate SG-1 exists solely to make fun of themselves. Includes the concept of the Zat disintegrating things (long since ret conned in the actual show) and the question of why exactly, someone who is "out of phase" can stand on the floor and sit in chairs (reused years later).

Martin: <referring to apples about to be used on the set>Paint them or something. We can't have aliens eating red apples!
Prop Guy: Why not? They all speak English.

    • The season 8 finale also mocks a particular infamous line from the pilot episode, when Carter was clunkily written as much more of a vocal feminist: "Just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, doesn't mean I can't handle anything you can't handle." An alternate-universe Carter is in the middle of rehearsing a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her boss and starts saying the line, but stops halfway and exclaims, "God, that is awful! Who would ever say that?"
    • Yet another episode introduces us to a barber who had visions of Jack's life. He tries writing out the stories for a magazine, but there are several that absolutely no one liked, particularly the unpopular episode Hathor. Hathor seems to be a common target for this sort of thing: in another episode, as Dr. Frasier is going through a list of files on O'Neill's injuries over the years and explaining them, she comes across one stack and immediately puts it aside, saying "Oh, that's the whole "Hathor" incident, which he has asked me to never speak of again."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus once did a sketch set in a Chemists where everyone had an embarrassing ailment -- and then ran a mock apology for the poor quality of writing in that sketch. Similarly, a particularly violent Sam Peckinpah sketch was followed by a sketch claiming that the Python team only wrote it because they all came from broken homes (especially Eric).
    • Another episode was linked by a spoof educational film on parts of the body. When they got to no 17 'the inside of a country house', the characters in the next sketch the following dialogue ensued

That's not a part of the body
It's a link though
Not a very good one
Well, it's the end of the series, they must be running out of ideas.

  • Done spectacularly on Supernatural.
    • The boys meet a writer (whose pseudonym is named after two of the show's writers) who receives visions of the boys' adventures and turns them into novels. When they confront him about it, he initially thinks that everything he writes comes to life. He instantly feels guilty about all the crap he's put Sam and Dean through, and then regrets writing "Red Sky at Morning", a season 3 episode notorious for being hated by the fans.

Chuck: To be forced to live bad writing...!

    • Supernatural got one in the form of Paris Hilton. She plays an ancient pagan god who chastises humanity for worshipping the cult of celebrities since all they have is "small dogs and spray tans." (She herself could be seen as the patron saint of the cult of celebrity.)
    • In "The French Mistake", Sam and Dean get sent into an Alternate Universe that's basically ours—as in, they take on the role of their actors, playing themselves. This included this memorable bit of conversation:

Dean: Why would anybody want to watch our lives?
Sam: Well, according to the interview, not many people do.

  • The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson fills his monologues with self-deprecation, calling himself a "creepy European" and "a vulgar lounge entertainer". He goes so far as to slander himself, implying that he's some sort of severe sexual deviant, and that his show is unfunny and poorly produced.
    • During the Late Nite Wars "We may suck, but we suck at the same damn time every night!"
    • He also jokes that the audience is only laughing because they got free stuff, and are only there because they couldn't get into The Price is Right (which, admittedly, might actually be true, as they tape in the same building). "If you're watching this program regularly - I'm sorry."
  • Heroes: Noah Bennet's comment "Sorry about the Sylar thing. We all admit it was a terrible idea" could be read as an apology for the volume 4 finale.
  • One particular episode of Babylon 5 has what could be read as either Self Deprecation or Strawman Political: when Garibaldi is trying to break Sheridan out from his imprisonment by President Clark's forces (as atonement for setting him up while under mind control), he says to one of the guards, "Maybe you've seen me on the news?" The guard immediately replies, "I don't watch TV. It's a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite."
  • Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle gave us this nugget in Mock the Week:

There were concerns as to whether Mel Gibson could accurately portray a Scotsman [in Braveheart], but look at him now - an alcoholic racist.

  • John Cena posed for photos with fans wearing "I hate Cena" T-shirts after defeating Batista for the WWE Championship in Wrestlemania XXVI.
  • An episode of Will and Grace guest starring Rosie O' Donnell had her character watching TV looking bored, turning it off and exclaiming "Daytime television sucks!".
  • Whenever he's not snarking at his producers, the Travel Network, foodies and foodie culture, Rachel Ray, or mainstream chain restaurants, celebrity chef and No Reservations star Anthony Bourdain frequently pokes fun at himself, particularly his wild and crazy past.
  • On Angel, Fred's mom mentions that her husband loves "those Alien movies", except for the last one, which made him fall asleep. Guess who wrote the screenplay for Alien: Resurrection? It might also be interpreted as a Take That, though.
  • In the pilot episode of Firefly, Kaylee has been shot and is slipping in and out of consciousness. Mal has agreed to keep Simon, a doctor/fugitive, aboard his ship only so long as he is able to keep Kaylee alive. Following a scene that ends with Kaylee appearing to die/fall asleep, Mal comes and tells Simon that Kaylee is dead. Simon runs through the ship to the med bay, only to find Kaylee perfectly alive and well. Simon's reaction: "The man's psychotic." In-universe, he's talking about Mal, but another interpretation is that the man most infamous for killing off cheerful side characters is taking a jab at himself.
  • After some critics called That Mitchell and Webb Look hit and miss, the next series featured a sketch in which David and Robert were seen writing the 'misses' for this week, with David saying he didn't envy the other writers who had to write the hits.
  • Self Deprecation was a staple joke on the 80s sketch comedy Bizarre - jokes included Richard Nixon telling host John Byner (who played Nixon in the sketch), not to "make the mistake I did", but instead to "burn the tapes", and an ET parody, where the ET character was the children's grandfather who couldn't even bear to be in the house while they were watching Bizarre.
  • Saturday Night Live had a series of skits called "Superfans," poking lots of fun at Chicagoans, especially their fanatical attitude towards sports and love of greasy meat-based food. With the exception of Canadian Mike Myers, all the actors in the skits were Chicago natives. And no one found the skits funnier than Chicagoans.
  • Scrubs had an episode about this, My Night To Remember. JD even said "A sitcom without new stories to do".
  • You Can't Do That on Television is practically made of this. The opening preempt announcement, the closing announcement, and the locker gags are the biggest offenders, but in all honesty something like a third of the jokes are about how bad the program is. An episode revolved around the show being sold to a new producer every few minutes because none of them wanted it—one producer bought it without having seen an episode and sold it once he had.
  • In one episode of Stargate Atlantis, Rodney McKay describes television as 'ridiculously attractive people in absurd situations' to Ronon and Teyla, who are amazed that someone would 'watch a box' for hours on end.
  • Rick Harrison, of Pawn Stars, described The Rat Patrol as a "low budget TV show about four guys in the desert". He then looks right at the camera.
  • Literal in-universe example: Any time two or more different incarnations of the Doctor have met on Doctor Who, it's a safe bet at least one will say something snarky about the others ("A dandy and a clown?"). Also doubles as a lighthearted Take That between the various actors who've portrayed the character.
  • The Planet's Funniest Animals, Animal Planet's Poor Man's Substitute to America's Funniest Home Videos had a host who did this about some quality of himself in almost every single clip introduction. He beat the shtick to death, then resurrected it and proceeded to beat it to a second death until he was canned and replaced.
  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Blind Date", Phoebe and Joey intentionally set Rachel and Ross on bad blind dates, to make them realize that they should be together. Rachel's date is Steve, who spends the evening with insulting himself.

Steve: I - I just have to say this; you're really beautiful.
Rachel: Oh, well, that's - that's very sweet. Thank you.
Steve: I'm kind of funny looking.
Rachel: What?
Steve: Oh, come on, you're way out of my league. Everybody in here knows it. Bet that guy over there's probably saying, "ooh, why she out with him? He must be rich!" Well, I'm not!
Rachel: Okay... well, I guess then the joke's on him! So, what do think you wanna order? I'm really excited about that chicken.
Steve: I'm not funny either. So, if you were thinking, "well, he's not that good-looking, but maybe we'll have some laughs..." that ain't gonna happen!

  • Done in the pilot and at the beginning of every single following episode in Burn Notice by Sam Axe:

Sam: You know spies, bunch of bitchy little girls.

    • For the record, both Michael and Sam are former spies.
  • Frequently done on Myth Busters.

Adam: So we've proven that women can endure pain better than men. In your face, men! Wait...

"Chums is filmed before an easily pleased studio audience."
"Was Dane Bowers a vampire? Were the chums turned into lifeless zombies, and if so, would anybody notice the difference? Find out now as we return you to Chums."

    • It also poked fun at the previous pop careers of its stars Ant and Dec ("Everyone knows you've never been able to sing a note!").
  • The first episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder lets Tommy poke fun at his mythical "Swiss cheese memory" from earlier seasons.[3] Tommy is running from an apparently reanimated Tyrannosaurus and runs to his car, buckles up, locks the door...and then realizes he's in an open-topped Jeep. "Yeah, real great Tommy, lock the door."
  • Bones mocks itself mercilessly on "The Suit on the Set". A Hollywood studio is creating a movie based on one of Dr. Brennan's books. Technical accuracy takes a backseat to Rule of Cool. The lab has a superfluous environment, including for some reason a monorail in the background.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak enjoys doing this. Improbable military knowledge? He reads a lot! Unusual and fancy engineering equipment? It's a common tailor's tool! Ability to ooze power and order around Guls like you own them while spouting active and valid codes despite having been in exile years? Overheard it while hemming a woman's dress! Expert ability to rewrite high-class military encryption software? Any tailor can do it!


Music[edit | hide]

  • Ska band Reel Big Fish used to sell T-Shirts proclaiming "I Hate Reel Big Fish." And their most popular track was called "Sell Out".
    • They also titled an EP "Keep Your Receipt."
  • Likewise, Oasis began selling 'Quoasis' t-shirts when their rivals Blur compared them to Status Quo.
  • Primus Sucks. By which I mean they're awesome.
  • Mindless Self Indulgence frequently insult themselves. If you see anyone in a shirt that says "MSI sucks", they're probably a fan.
  • They Might Be Giants' fifth album John Henry included pictures in the liner notes of children waving signs that said "We hate They Might Be Giants." Seeing as this was the first album where the Johns were accompanied by a full band, quite a few fans did.
  • Toad The Wet Sprocket is the ultimate cure for insomnia!
  • KMFDM's albums usually contain one song in this vein. The straightest example would be "Sucks" from Angst.
  • Other rock stars brag about the size of their respective members, but not Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. He brags about his smallness, and is reportedly the least endowed man in the business.
    • "Reportedly?" Is there a chart somewhere comparing musicians' penises?
    • Yes. It's on the Metal Sludge website. I wish I was joking.
  • Flight of the Conchords typically open their live performances by describing themselves as New Zealand's "second/third most popular novelty music band". The most popular New Zealand novelty music band is a Flight of the Conchords tribute band.
  • For one of the biggest acts in pop history, The Beatles were remarkably prone to this. One 1963 interview has John saying they'll be lucky to last three months, Paul extremely certain they won't still be performing these songs at 40, George hoping he owns his own business "by the time we do flop," and Ringo speculating that he'll end up owning a hair salon.
    • In a 1982 interview George was asked to describe himself, and freely answered "a middle-aged ex-pop star." There's a picture in the book The Beatles' Recording Sessions of George in the studio c. 1967 wearing a "Stamp Out The Beatles" sweatshirt.
  • The Replacements on occasion, as evidenced by the fact that their discography includes titles like Stink and Don't Sell Or Buy, It's Crap. Even their name itself was chosen to suggest being second-rate: As member Chris Mars put it, "Like maybe the main act doesn't show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags".
  • Elton John's 1976 world tour was self-dubbed "Louder Than Concorde (But Not Quite As Pretty)".
    • Many of Elton's own wardrobe selections and costumes exaggerated (or covered up) Elton's less-than-conventionally-pop-star-like looks and qualities (eyeglasses, overweight build, gapped front teeth, receding hairline, sexuality (even when few people knew about it)) for laughs.
  • The cover of Metallica's "Whiskey in the Jar" single was a collection of reviews blasting their Garage Inc. covers album.
  • Green Jelly/o's Theme Song contains the chant-along chorus of "Green Jello Sucks!" along with some lyrics touting themselves as the worst in the land.
    • They were also fond of touting themselves as "the world's first video-only band," until they released "Cereal Killer Soundtrack" on CD/cassette and proclaimed in the liner notes that "now we're liars as well as jerks with no talent."
  • GWAR is fond of pointing out in their movies that they aren't particularly good, and the band characters are often depicted as fairly dim-witted.
  • Henry Rollins has said numerous times he thought Black Flag's best work was before he joined the band.
    • His spoken word albums occasionally include digs at his own solo career: one bit has an airport security worker asking him if he's a singer, to which he responds "Not to anyone who has good taste in music!". In another he claims to be one of rock and roll's ninjas because "I put out records... no one hears them! I make videos... no one sees! I go on tour... no one knows! NINJA! I was never here!"
    • He's also made comments to the effect that he's not an actor, but he takes roles whenever anybody's stupid enough to offer him one.
  • Five Iron Frenzy was all over this. In the hidden track on their first live album, Reese Roper thanks the listener "for buying another one of our stupid albums!" In the Cheeses liner notes, he writes "Thank goodness [our 1995 demo was never released]. This song suffers from suction." Their 2003 farewell tour was titled The Winners Never Quit Tour, and on this tour they sold t-shirts proclaiming "We were the future of rock and roll... in 1995." At the band's final show, Reese told fans how hospitals were using old FIF albums as an alternative to stomach pumping.
    • "Five Iron is stupid and you are if you like them also."
  • Starflyer 59 writes lyrics like "It's not the same when I try, it's just a bad lullaby" ("When I Learn to Sing") and "My ideas, they outweigh all the talent I own" ("Ideas for the Talented").
  • Ke$ha's twitter name is @keshasuxx. At least she's being honest.
  • Punk band NOFX titled their 1995 live album I Heard They Suck Live!!. Their second live album. from 2007, was titled They've Actually Gotten Worse Live!. They also have a rarities album titled 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records.
  • Limp Bizkit album Significant Other actually opens with the line, "You wanted the worst... you got the worst. The one... the only... Limp Bizkit."
  • An article by metal group Harvey Milk has band members savaging their musical catalog.
  • After The Who started doing radio commercials, fans complained that they had "sold out". The title of their next album? The Who Sell Out.
  • Dos Gringos engaged in this as well, with their song I'm A Pilot. It's based on the perceptions and stereotypes that crew chiefs have of fighter pilots.
  • Emilie Autumn called herself "Drama Queen" in her 'Opheliac' era track "Shalott"
  • Matthew Shultz of Cage The Elephant came up with the lyrics to their hit "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" while on the job at a construction site, and wrote them down on an unfinished drywall. He's subsequently joked that "one day, someone will find those lyrics on the wall and say 'who wrote these crappy words?'".
  • Show me a grunge band from the late 80's/early 90's that didn't do this and I'll show you a bunch of posers.
    • One of the more visible/notable examples of this is when the members of Pearl Jam appeared in the 1994 movie Singles as the other members of Matt Dillon's character's band. Their appearance was nothing but one giant pisstake at their (Pearl Jam's) expense.
  • Bloc Party's vocalist has said that he wrote "Helicopter" as a jab at himself. He's not nearly as much of a Small Name, Big Ego as the song makes him sound.
  • Micky Dolenz of The Monkees put out an album of lullabyes in the early 1990's titled, Micky Dolenz Puts You To Sleep.
  • The inner fold of Deep Purple's Who Do We Think We Are LP consisted of a collection of print reviews from around the world, panning the band. Uriah Heep also did this, in the gatefold of their double-live album. In the early 1970s, most critics' attitudes toward any Heavy Metal band not named Blue Oyster Cult ranged from indifference to contempt, so the two bands probably couldn't have scraped together enough positive press between them to fill an album cover.
  • Steely Dan frequently poke fun at themselves through written material posted on their website.
  • An advertising campaign for 1980s San Francisco New Wave band Flipper: "Flipper suffered for their music. Now it's your turn".
  • The Presets ' video for "Are You The One" includes this subtitle exchange at a concert- "Man, this band sucks. I wish I was listening to The Presets." "Why? They suck even more."
  • 10cc wrote "The Worst Band in the World", although it could be argued that it's written from the point of view of another, fictional band.
  • The song "Redneck" by Lamb of God was written about their lead singer Randy Blythe. It's one long Reason He Sucks Speech.
  • Luke Seinkowski, A K A "The Great Luke Ski" of Dr. Demento fame, named one of his albums "Worst Album Ever", and interspersed its tracks with verbal tirades in which he lambasts the album as a ripoff and himself as a shameless hack. Tirades, self-delivered in a Gilbert Gottfreid voice.
  • One blink-and-you-miss-it example occurs in the music video for Jessie J's "Price Tag". The song is about anti-consumerism and Doing It for the Art, for context. Around the time the line "We need to take it back in time/when music made us all unite/and it wasn't low blows and video hoes/am I the only one getting tired?" is sung, you can see briefly Jessie wearing the same outfit and doing similar dance moves she is using in "Do It Like A Dude", which is a song about being a The Ladette.
  • Matsuura Aya of Hello! Project has readily admitted that she gets distracted by mirrors if she sees one while she's having a conversation
  • Cole Porter's song "At Long Last Love" includes the line: "Will it be Bach I shall hear or just a Cole Porter song?"
  • The video for Nickelback's song "This Afternoon" features the band being kidnapped to perform at a high school party and the host being disgusted that they were the best that his friends could find.
    • Rockstar praises how cool it would be to be a true rockstar. The picture they are painting is pretty pathetic and kind of sad.
  • Natalie's Rap by The Lonely Island and... Natalie Portman. You would never have guessed she's really an Axe Crazy, drug fueled gangaster.
  • Britney Spears, alot in her actions, but also she calls herself shameless in Piece Of Me.
  • Industrial label head and one man band, Klayton (aka Cell Dweller), often makes fun of himself and his music in interviews and live video streams.
  • During live performances (for instance, Rock the Bells festival), rapper Redman has been known to have the audience chant "F*** REDMAN!"
  • Local H's "All The Kids Are Right" is mostly about how fickle music fans can be, but the main example of this involves the band themselves playing an incredibly lousy live set one night:

You heard that we were great
But now you know we're lame
Since you saw the show last night
You hoped that we would rock
You wished that we'd just stop
And finally we said "good night"
When we had returned for the encore
You and half the room had headed for the door
No one wanted more

  • Maine rapper Spose has a song deceptively titled "I'm Awesome" which is actually about the dozens of ways he's not, spoofing how rappers usually tend to brag a lot about themselves in their songs.
  • Darkbuster's debut is titled 22 Songs That You'll Never Want to Hear Again!.
  • Tom Lehrer
    • He relased a live album entitled An Evening (Wasted) With Tom Lehrer, including negative reviews in the liner notes, such as "plays the piano adequately".
    • His songbook is titled Too Many Songs By Tom Lehrer.
    • One of his album covers is a photograph of him on stage playing a piano in front of a theater of empty chairs.
  • The song Runaway by Kanye West takes jabs at how rubbish he is at romancing a woman, even admitting that the relationship failing was his fault.
  • The Spinto Band promoted their shows at the SXSW festival with a take-off on the "Shit (insert group of people here) Say" YouTube meme called "Shit People At SXSW DON'T Say" - one such line is "Man, the line for the Spinto Band showcase is four blocks long!".

Print Media[edit | hide]

  • Mad is infamous for this, regularly referring to its writers and artists as "The Usual Gang Of Idiots" and insulting it's readership by claiming that only Too Dumb to Live schmucks would be caught reading their magazine. It's all meant in jest though.


Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • The Funday Pawpet Show used filmed opening segments of people saying "Hi, I'm ________, and you're wasting your time watching the Funday Pawpet Show!".
  • The Muppet Show often engaged in this. For example in one Veterinatian's Hospital sketch, when discussing the things that might happen to herald the end of the world, such as "Dr Bob actually curing a patient", Nurse Piggy suggests "One honest laugh". And then there's Statler and Waldorf.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Howard Stern lives this trope on the show. While he savages other celebrities, rival radio hosts and his own crew, he also spends a lot of time making fun of his small penis (though later he found out he's actually fairly normal, he's just reall tall and it looks small on him), his big nose, his nuerosis, etc.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue lived and breathed this trope, with the late Chairman Humph being baffled that anyone was listening to this rubbish. Chairman Jack continues this tradition.
    • This was a direct continuation of I'm Sorry Ill Read That Again, in which not just the late Announcer Hatch, but the cast was baffled that anyone was listening to this rubbish. Later episodes also made fun of the performers' careers outside Radio Prune, leading to the pleasing symmetry of Clue's parent show slagging it off after the first season:

Director-General of the BBC: I'm Sorry I Haven't A Script, that was you lot, wasn't it? Call that a Panel Game? Don't make me laugh.
Bill Oddie: We didn't.

    • The competitors also engaged in it themselves, on occassion—in the "Broadcasting Ball" episode, the contestants were to identify a sound or bit of music. A quick, monkeyesque 'ooo ooo ooo' played for Tim, to which he responded with this.

Tim: Well, that'd be three geriatrics called The Goodies attempting to sing.
(the clip is played again, slightly longer this time, with audience cheers in the background)
Tim: Hold on, that can't be The Goodies, that's applause...

  • Most comedy shows on American public radio generally make fun of public radio, as being too liberal, too erudite, too boring, or what have you.

Tom or Ray Magliozzi: Well, it's happened again - you've wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk... and even though Roger Clemens stabs his radio with a syringe whenever he hears us say it, this is NPR: National Public Radio.

  • Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion relies on self-deprecating humor all the time, most famously by discussing the foibles of rural Minnesotans, but also referring to himself as having "a face made for radio", referring to the show as "this job I picked up on the weekends", and so forth.
  • Much of Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant's radio show consisted of them expressing amazement at how bad the show was and apologizing to the listeners (or suggesting that there no longer were any). They usually blamed Karl, particularly if he was in charge of a feature like Rockbusters or Monkey News, but also for the long stretches of silence that would sometimes follow if he was asked a question. They also got a kick out of reading the abusive emails they got from hostile listener Richard Anderson ("Dickers!")
  • The late Radio 1 DJ John Peel frequently poked fun at himself on his radio show, from his looks to the way he would sometimes play records at the wrong speed (back when DJs spun vinyl records) to how much time he spent listening to demo tapes from young upstart bands clamoring for a chance to be on his show.
  • Hamish and Andy: When Hamish got fat many jokes were made about it. Hamish made more jokes about it then Andy
  • On The Tony Kornheiser Show, many self deprecating jokes are made about the show's quality. The show's email address, This Show Stinks, bears that out.
  • LA morning show hosts Kevin and Bean on KROQ get a lot of mileage out of criticizing the production value of their show, the skills of their co-workers, and their own idiosyncrasies. This is one of the big tonal differences between them and their chief rivals, Mark and Brian on KLOS, who spare few opportunities to express pride in their show and comic timing.
  • The radio show Hello Cheeky starred performers Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and John Junkin, who also wrote the scripts. Thus, the leads wrote jokes against themselves. It's frequently mentioned that the show only has one listener ("Hello, Eric"), and episodes with guest stars generally focus on the guest star trying to comprehend the rubbish they get away with.

John: (reading a letter) Dear John Junkin -- quit comedy and stick to straight acting. Yours, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer?! Here, fellas, I want a word with you!

    • Also, in later seasons, a section of the show was reserved for the fictional post they received. No insults were spared.

Dear Hello Cheeky, I was wondering if you could help me. On second thoughts, if I'm writing to you, I must be beyond help.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • It's tradition in game rulebooks to include a page or so showing how the game is played. In the "Obligatory Example of Play" (yep, that's what they called it) in "Lucha Libre Hero" one of the players, "Steve", is clearly not getting the point of the game. His character, El Heraldo de Justicia, is described as a "dark-clad avenger of the night", and "Steve" spends most of his actions trying to get his hands on a gun despite the fact that a luchador can do more damage in this game with his wrestling moves. Steve Long, part-owner of Hero Games, and incidentally the guy who edited "Lucha Libre Hero", got his start as a game designer with the book "Dark Champions", which focused on gritty Punisher-style vigilante action. The flagship character for "Dark Champions" and Steve's very own player character is the Harbinger of Justice. (The section wraps up with "Editor's Note: I do so have a gun.")
  • The Werewolf: The Apocalypse supplement Pentex: Subsidiaries describes some of the companies under the umbrella of the titular evil Mega Corp. The last one listed is "Black Dog Game Factory", a fictionalized version of the real Black Dog Game Factory—an actual subsidiary of Werewolf's own publisher White Wolf (which published their mature-themed gamebooks). The company's fictional games all feature White Wolf's signature traits (Darker and Edgier settings, etc.) taken Up to Eleven, and the employees are all unflattering parodies of real White Wolf writers, including the writers of the supplement itself.
    • In the Apocalypse book that ended the series a sidebar details the horrific fates of the aforementioned writers. Cannibalism is involved. One Vampire: The Masquerade supplement was discussing how to apply difficulties to skill rolls. One of the examples was robbing a Role-Playing Game designer (difficulty 9 just to find anything worth stealing).
  • Ho L - Human Occupied Landfill is in general a parody of hack-and-slash powergaming. In the "Obligatory Example of Play" section, the example game quickly degenerates into the Jerkass players insulting and then beating the crap out of each other.
  • When the Shadowrun Verse's metaplot called for a nuke to be set off to destroy a massive bug-spirit infestation, then-publishers FASA situated both the spirit-hive and ground zero for the nuclear blast in their own Chicago office.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan deprecated their previous hit by having the Major-General boast in his List Song that he can "whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore."
    • For very good reason -- HMS Pinafore was a satire of the British upper crust, which Queen Victoria is said to have particularly disliked. Penzance was an attempt to get back on the Queen's good side by mocking their earlier work, and by sucking up shamelessly at the end. (The pirates immediately surrender when ordered in the name of Queen Victoria, because they're good English boys despite being pirates and all.)
    • The character of King Gama in Princess Ida is said to be Gilbert's lampoon of himself.
  • In God by Woody Allen, the characters make several not-so-flattering comments on Woody's abilities as a playwright.

Hepatitis: It's terrible being fictional. We're all so limited.
Lorenzo Miller: Only by the limits of the playwright. Unfortunately you have been written by Woody Allen. Think If you had been written by Shakespeare.

  • Shakespeare himself: every mention of love poems in his many plays implies them to be cynical wooing devices, or a sign of a mind driven to madness by frustrated love. This is much funnier when you're aware that the man himself wrote what is almost the longest sequence of love sonnets in history.

"They say the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous; 'tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her."

"If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in, then, that am neither a good epilogue nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play!"

  • Elphaba does this sarcastically in act 1 of Wicked where in response to her invalid sister being called tragically beautiful calls herself beautifully tragic. However she does it much more honestly at the end of act 2 when she convinces Glinda in song that Elphaba has limitations she cannot overcome.
  • "It sucks to be me" from Avenue Q.
  • In Thirteen Patrice happily does this to her hometown:

Patrice: The inbreeding takes up all of our time!

  • Stephen Sondheim loves doing this to himself; to wit (from "Parabasis: It's Only A Play" from "The Frogs"):

Chorus: It's only so much natter that somebody wrote/it's only a play...

Lockstock: Nothing can kill a show like too much exposition.
Little Sally: How about bad subject matter? Or a bad title even, that could kill a show pretty good!


Video Games[edit | hide]

"Now then. In line with Banjo Tradition, your challenge will consist of collecting as many pointless items as possible."

    • At one point, L.O.G. claims to have been laughing the whole time while designing the Canary Mary races in Banjo-Tooie.
    • In one of the press releases, Rare announced that after making the game, they'd probably go back to being rubbish again.
    • There's also the nods towards Grabbed By the Ghoulies's total failure and the Banjo series having much, much, MUCH fewer games than "That Italian gentleman".
    • "Bear put these on vehicle so float. If not enough, vehicle sink, like this game at market." -- Mumbo
    • In fact, almost all of the humor in the game is derived from how much the game sucks, gaming has left Rare behind, etc. Is it just a show of typical sardonic Brit humor, or did the company truly have no confidence in their own product whatsoever?
  • Ace Attorney Investigations features Miles Edgeworth as protagonist instead of Phoenix Wright. This is used to make fun of some of the weirder things that happened in previous games. For example, upon examining a fire extinguisher Edgeworth muses how silly it would be to get hit on the head with it and lose your memory. This is the framing device for the first case tutorial of Justice For All.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney constantly makes fun of the series cliches. For example, Apollo gets told of off for shouting out "HOLD IT!" to loud in court. Phoenix also reminisces on the times when he used to present evidence to people through the present button and how he would shout out "hold it" for no apparent reason just to scare people.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations, During Case 2 if you present the wrong piece of evidence when "deducing" something while Tenerio is your partner, she asks Edgeworth why he feels the need to scream out "EUREKA!" when he's thinking. Edgeworth says it must be "His" influence rubbing off on him yet he goes on to say that those are the "rules of the game...the game being my thinking". This a nod at the way Phoenix and Apollo shouts random things at people for no apparent reason and how this became a staple of the franchise.
  • The two Discworld games starring Rincewind have him continually complaining about all the inane items, insane puzzles and fetch quests he was expected to collect, solve and achieve, respectively. The first game, near the end, contained a man who supposedly sold all those ridiculous puzzles and quests, and Rincewind had a very cathartic time shouting at him.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has a tutorial mode featuring several lengthy Auto Pilot Tutorials, narrated by Professor Daravon. Mediators in the same game can learn the "Mimic Daravon" skill, which puts its targets to sleep. Given the quality of the translation, especially in the tutorial, Confusion would have been just as appropriate for the English version.
  • Final Fantasy V Advance has a nameless NPC mock Squaresoft's Mario Kart clone, Chocobo Racing and/or the tedious Luck-Based Mission minigame of Final Fantasy X:

"Wouldn't chocobo racing be totally extreme?... No, I guess not."

  • Dmitri of Backyard Sports mocks the games' lack of good AI and their focus on the characters rather than gameplay.
  • Done several times in The Curse of Monkey Island. First, when Guybrush tells an actor that his Shakespeare rewrite sucks, the actor continues practicing for it, telling Guybrush that now he knows he's produced a work of unredeemable trash, he's guaranteed to get a lot of attention (which Guybrush finds strangely encouraging). Second, Guybrush is talking to a talent agent, who describes his job as "making his living off the hard work and talent of others". Guybrush says "You're a project leader on a computer game?". When examining a horror trilogy, Guybrush wonders why trashy media always comes in threes (Curse is the third game in the Monkey Island series). Guybrush also has the option to guess that the "Secret of Monkey Island" is that a sequel can never be as good as the original.
    • And way back in The Secret of Monkey Island, at the very end you have a choice of four Aesops for Guybrush to claim to have learned over the course of the game. One of the options is about the inadvisability of shelling out good money for a short video game.
  • Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath and Beyond is full of self deprecating jokes related to itself and the previous game. At one point, the title character even claims that said previous game is "now available in bargain bins everywhere!"
  • The games salesman in Mass Effect 2 does this amidst his normal Take That lines directed at Gamestop and Copy Protection; one line has him saying that he misses the old-school role-playing games where it took five hours of real-time to fly between locations and you had to remember to drink water, whereas RPGs now are all "big choices" and "visceral combat."
    • The weapons and upgrades are protected by 'Fabrication Rights Management'? Almost funny enough to make up for the Digital Rights Management protections on the PC version of ME1.
    • The absolute king of this is Conrad Verner. In the interim between the two games he's attempted (and failed) to take Shepard's place as the galaxy's saviour. Bioware uses the opportunity to take potshots at the first Mass Effect:
This can interpreted as a Take That to RPGs in general.
    • Also, there is an argument by investors on how the attacks on human colonies will lead to a huge amount of business for the prefabricated building companies. The first Mass Effect used the same 2 or 3 prefabricated buildings for all content except the main story line.
    • There's also several shots at disliked missions or elements from the first game, such as a couple in a store arguing about gene therapy for their child and saying that maybe they should turn to a random stranger to solve their problems, or Tali getting annoyed when she's reminded about the elevators, or Mordin saying that, when he served in a military squad, at least he, "Didn't have to purchase own equipment." Plus there's Miranda's annoyance when stuck in an elevator during her loyalty mission, during which she whacks the control panel with her omni-tool and screams for it to hurry up, which causes the elevator to speed up and the obnoxious music to shut off.
    • The "Lair of the Shadow Broker" DLC contains several jabs at the previous game, from the poor handling of the Mako to the simplistic hacking.
  • Mass Effect 3 takes shots at some of the most mocked lines from the second game.
    • Garrus' "in the middle of some calibrations" line when he doesn't have anything important to say:

Primarch Victus: "Garrus said he had to attend to the Normandy's weapon systems. Something about calibrations."
Shepard: "Sounds like Garrus."

    • Jack's "I will destroy you!" (itself a prod at enemies' lines in the first game) is mocked by her students.
    • Thermal clips were introduced in the second game as an ammo system, whereas the first game had unlimited ammunition. Conrad doesn't think the clips a very good idea; as he puts it, "You might as well be going back to limited ammunition."
  • Flemeth does this in Dragon Age II, describing herself as "An old hag who talks too much."
    • The DLC Mark of the Assassin gives us a nice bit of dialogue mocking the games lack of locations outside Kirkwall and its much maligned recycling of levels.

Merril: "It's so exciting to be out of Kirkwall. It seems like we haven't left there in ages."
Hawke: "We do seem to spend a ridiculous amount of time in the city."
Merril: "Ah I needed this break. I was starting to think every part of Kirkwall looked alike."

  • In the midst of a long winded rant by Smug Snake Dr. Hartman in Alan Wake, Hartman mentions that one of the mental patients is in the production of video games. In a very derogatory tone of voice, he says it's "utter trash, but it does require small amounts of creativity." Whether or not this fully qualifies as Self-Deprecation is unclear, however, because Hartman is clearly someone whose opinion shouldn't matter much to players.
    • In Alan Wake's American Nightmare. One of the complaints of the first game was the small enemy variety, and a manuscript page in American Nightmare states that the Dark Presence in the first game lacked imagination.
  • A trailer for Duke Nukem Forever is filled with jokes related to the insane amount of time it took to make this game.

Random Woman : What about the game, Duke ? Was it any good ?
Duke : Yeah, but after 12 *bleep* years, it should be !

  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has an extended segment just to make fun of The Scrappy, Raiden, from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Let no one say Hideo Kojima can't make a joke at his own expense.
  • The marketing slogan for Earthbound was "This Game Stinks!" And it came with scented stickers with unusual smells.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has the two characters IF and Compa who are the personification of the companies (Idea Factory and Compile Heart respectively) who made the game. They do not get any Limit Breaks at all, something that other characters (even DLC ones!) do.
  • Space Quest was full of these.
  • The HD versions of Sonic Unleashed features Eggman Robots that can can be spoken too as civilians, when visiting Eggman Land after completing the game. Three of said robots are named, "EF-MD1991",[5] "EF-DC1998" and "EF-XB2006". Talking to EF-XB 2006, prompts the robot into saying how he is the youngest of the fighter and therefor lacks experience. He's also apparently clumsly and is rubbish at doing anything right...It seems Sonic Team themselves didn't find THAT perticualr Sonic game any good.
    • Similarily, once you complete Crisis City in Sonic Generations and release Blaze, she laments the fact that she was captured to begin with with a line that's rather... open for interpretation:

Blaze: Sonic, I hope we can keep this slip up of mine just between the two of us, all right?

  • In The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, one of the corpses in the Temple of the Ocean King laments that he was unable to use the pad controls instead of the touch screen. The latter is how the game is controlled, as it's a Nintendo DS game.
  • Many gamers were unhappy about being able to drive the cars present in Postal 2, particularly after the Grand Theft Auto series became popular. It became possible to ride on Segways in the third game... but your weapons options were massively limited. The Postal Dude doesn't let this pass unsnarked:

"'Postal has vehicles now!' Thanks a lot, assholes."


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • This Sluggy Freelance strip joked that a (fictional) wrongful hiring scandal had drastically hurt the strip's viewership. "Two people used to read Sluggy Freelance. Now only one does. In percentage terms, this is devastating for the comic."
  • In this strip of Order of the Stick, one of the demon roaches says, "They'll let any old hack write a sourcebook these days" in reference to the strip's acid-breathing shark. The acidborn template, with the specific example of the acidborn shark, appears in the Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook Dungeonscape, co-written by OotS author Rich Burlew.
    • Which begs the question of whether Rich first dreamed up the acid-breathing shark for his webcomic, and included it in the sourcebook merely to lay the groundwork for his Take That Me...
    • Each print compilation of The Order of the Stick comics opens with a Foreword by one of the characters. Typically they spend the Foreword mocking the concept of the strip, the writing of the strip, the art style, and the reader's intellect for having wasted their money on an amateurish comic they could have read for free.
  • Katie Teidrich notes that Self-Deprecation is the best way to get undying praise, any real artist's bane.
    • Josh Lesnick, in response, obliged by offering advice on how to improve her puppy-kicking technique.
  • Eskimo Bob did this with "Eskimo Sucks".
  • Something Positive occasionally features Choo-Choo Bear "off-stage" to address the reader directly, declaring that his author is a lazy, talentless hack who can't get his act together.

Choo-Choo Bear: Alas, dear readers, you know when you see me Randy is planning something "special." It'll be over quickly, I promise ... And if you hate it, don't worry. It's not like this will be the project Mr. "I swear I'll update Midnight Macabre" will actually finish."

    • In another strip, Milholland gives a nod to the Fourth Wall when PeeJee asks, "Why does everything around here revolve around sex?" and Davan, who's reading a book, mutters, "Bad writing." When glanced at in curiosity, he says, "I'm reading a John Grisham book, worst writing I've ever seen." Milholland also draws filler strips with himself in them, usually self-deprecating in some way. This version of his Author Avatar even has a razor blade with hands and feet as his muse, who constantly says/does whatever he can think of to make Milholland miserable or want to kill himself.
    • And then there's this strip. Technically, Milholland did subvert a little of what the character predicted. A little.
  • Jayden and Crusader embodied this trope for much of its early stages. Later the self-deprecation slackened a little, but it's still there.
  • This Dominic Deegan strip has Mookie poking fun at his own inability to draw noticeably different faces.
  • Polk Out tends to rely on self-deprecating humor.
  • Girl Genius: Phil and Kaja Foglio's Hugo Award acceptance speech.
  • Al Schroeder did it twice in Mind Mistress, making fun from his artwork.
  • See the title of this El Goonish Shive comic.
  • When Tang Ho needs someone to function as a Butt Monkey, his first choice is generally his own Author Avatar.
  • Tom Siddell, the author of Gunnerkrigg Court. Not so much in the comic itself (Tom doesn't write himself into the comic and promises that he never will) but in talking with his fans: If you ask him about the art, he'll probably tell you that he thinks it's bad and that it used to be worse. If you ask him about the hollow-eyed cartoon self-portraits he uses to represent himself online, he'll tell you that they're more handsome than he is.
  • Eight Bit Theater: there's lampshading the metric buttloads of Filler, and then there's his footnoted clarification of a point about "most consistent work you've ever seen online."

Terrible work is still consistent work.

GT: Boggle vacantly at these shenanigans.
It begins to dawn on you that everything you just did may have been a colossal waste of time.
CG: Boggle vacantly at these shenanigans.
It begins to dawn on you that everything you are about to do may prove to have been a colossal waste of time.
  • Living With Insanity has a few of these. One has to wonder if David Herbert really does think he's a talentless hack who lucked out with a great artist.
    • After reading his blog posts, it seems he really does. He praises his collaborators and insults himself often.
  • Much of The Way of the Metagamer, particularly during its self-MSTing.
  • The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal voteys often engage in this; a common theme is to depict a naked Zach ironically praising the joke or subject matter of the main comic.

"Ha! Any use of "decontextualised" is funny!"

Ken: "Let's admit it, Kovalic's about as organized as a wet mound of marmots."

  • In the webcomic Jack, Artie Sullivan dislikes an author for being too gory when he's not being too preachy. The author is (who else?) David Hopkins.
  • LDS cartoonist Howard Tayler pokes fun of his own religion, with a joke about Mormons being teetotal in this strip from Schlock Mercenary.
  • Doc Nickel, of The Whiteboard fame, takes a swing at himself in this April Fools' Day strip, on the subject of Only Six Faces.[6]
  • Questionable Content creator Jeph Jacques introduced the character of Yelling Bird into the comic, whose sole purpose is to berate him when he is unable to get the comic up on time for various reasons. Yelling Bird doesn't stop there, though.
  • A slightly more subtle version in Spinnerette. Protagonist Super Heroine Heather admits to hating mangna style comics. Odd considering the general art style of the comic.
  • During chapter 58 of Welcome to the Convenience Store one character is showing off short (yet true) stories that have happened. At the end the manager says that the artist/writer was just being incredibly lazy.
  • In Sinfest, one character reads Sinfest. Tomey reacts badly.
  • Penny Arcade: "Cartoonists are society's waste products."
  • VG Cats has at times mocked the creator's habit of Schedule Slip. Even his Author Avatar, Pantsman, turns out to be a lazy freeloader with a weakness for vodka.
  • David Morgan-Mar, author of Irregular Webcomic, periodically mocks his own drawing skills and penchant for awful, awful puns. He even once convinced Jane Goodall to pretend to slap him for how he portrayed her LEGO alter-ego. (Well, actually, he asked her to pretend to punch him - she convinced him a monkey-slap would be more in-character for her!)


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Ebolaworld Channel on youtube love this trope. E.G.:
    • "You're watching the Ebolaworld Channel. Why are you doing that?"
    • "You're watching the Ebolaworld Channel. W..What?"
    • "You're watching the Ebolaworld Channel... Weirdo!"
  • The Busy Street Mailbags, where hate mail sent by those aggravated by the site are picked apart, is usually accompanied by self-deprecating humor, with the commentators acknowledging the faults and weaknesses in their articles while mocking each other in good humor.
  • Cracked.com is fond of this, often saying how advice for living your life is coming from internet comedy writers, and then there are asides that raise questions as to the sanity of said internet comedy writers.
    • Many of Daniel O'Brien's articles are all about how much of an asshole he is. And Robert Brockway's tend to end with either him or the reader arrested for some outrageously drug-fueled mischief.
  • The Dead Horse Interchange staff frequently make reference to their "internet has-been" status, their self-described perma-virginity, greed, lack of talent, and inability to maintain frequent updates. Ebeeto is an "understimulated hermit Swede", Monty is a "Charlie Brooker-lite alcoholic teenager", and Schlasser being a "ripoff of The Angry Video Game Nerd".
  • In Whateley Universe stories, most of the canon authors have an Author Avatar. All of them are members of the Whitman Literary Girls, all have annoying characteristics, and all of them wish they were the big heroes who get to save people and stuff. They're not.
  • While The Nostalgia Critic often doesn't take himself seriously, the majority of his snark tends to be the movies and TV shows he reviews. To make up for it, he created an episode devoted to times he did something particularly embarrassing. Top 11 Fuck-ups
    • During his review of Jack Frost 1998, he mocks the article done about him on Entrepreneur magazine saying "They'll print anything these days".
    • Over the course of his reviews, he's been socially awkward, seriously obsessive about his childhood (which really seemed to suck for bigger reasons than just bad movies), goes on rants about "dreams not coming true" and sometimes not all that bright. Doug does love making his main character a mess.
    • In his tribute to Siskel and Ebert, he responded to Ebert's claim that Congo was funny by sarcastically saying that Dominic from Video Game Confessions had a good Cockney accent

Dominic: Oi!

    • The Nostalgia Chick's "Thanks For The Feedback" videos paint her in a rather pathetic light, first with her best friend Nella saying that at least going on a date with the Critic will mean leaving the apartment for a few hours (her response is "We haven't watched the My Little Pony movie in three days!"), then answering the question of why Nella puts up with all her mistreatment by showing that the Chick pays Nella to be her friend and shore up her fragile self-esteem.
  • In their RP of Policenauts, Diabetus comments that the only thing sadder than reviewing the game would be hacking it. Slowbeef, who was working on a translation patch for the game at the time, commented "I'll sa--fuck you."
    • Diabetus and his family are occasionally made the butt of jokes. In the RP of Nostalgic Rage's Mario 3 LP, they go on a tangent about if the LPer (who has a thick southern accent) is actually Diabetus' Dad.
  • Collegehumor does this in their parody musical "Web Site Story".

"Why do you guys sound like gaylords?"
"Come on, we're theater majors!"

  • Natalie from communitychannel loves to point out how much she sucks.
  • This very wiki has Statler and Waldorf mocking it.
  • Many good Let's Players do this almost constantly. Common subjects include the infrequency of their updates/uploads, their voice/recording setup, and the vast amount of time they use to produce the videos instead of doing something productive.
  • A lot of Slashdotters crack jokes about living in their parent's basement, not having any love life, etc.
    • Similarly, Diggers make similar jokes, since one cannot have sex on the internet.
    • The Something Awful Forum Goons are pretty fond of this as well, but then again they don't take much seriously in the first place.
  • Most of the more self-aware Abridged Series do this, occasionally with the creators guest-starring on other people's Abridged Series in order to make fun of themselves.
    • Little Kuriboh of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series does this pretty consistently. In one extreme case the characters wondered where he had gone for four months. Another time, he parodied his own proposal video and had his characters wonder what kind of "sick, lonely person" would do such a thing. In a later video, Yugi and Yami complain about LK's incredibly boring voice.
  • Oancitizen does this quite a lot.
  • Zero of the The Video Game Bunker does this a lot:
    • "Anyone can shoot a review show out of their basement. While I personally find this a little bit pathetic..."
    • "...covering their face so you can't even recognize them. What kind of a d*****bag dresses like that?"
  • Commentary! The Musical, the musical commentary to Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, is composed largely of songs in which the cast and crew make fun of themselves.
  • Survival of the Fittest: Milo Taylor's handler has confirmed that the character was created to make fun of Carson Baye, a character he had previously created, and his old writing style in general.
  • In Journey Quest, at the end of episode 7, Wren the bard is trying to figure out what to name her epic (which is about the series' events). She comes up with "Journey Quest", then discards the title.

Wren: I have to give it a name! Uh... well, it started out as a journey, and then it just kinda became this whole different quest... journey, quest... Journey Quest!... ugh, that's terrible.

  • Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation repeatedly points out his own hypocrisy during his rant about gaming webcomics, as he himself is in the "insult games for amusement" business, and also describes himself as a social and sexual failure very often.
  • Key of Awesome's "Moves Like Jagger" parody illustrates the apparent difficulty of imitating Adam Levine by having Mark sing about being too fat to perform the parody, and Todd about being too weak. They end the song by calling themselves "attention whores" who will "do-o-o-o-o-o anything for laughter."


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In The Lion King, when Zazu is asked by Scar to sing a more upbeat song while imprisoned, he sings the first few words of "It's A Small World" to which Scar vehemently shouts "No! No! Anything but that!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender takes a few shots at itself in "The Ember Island Players", where the Gaang goes to see play done in tremendous detail about everything that happened to them since Aang's awakening. In an early episode ("The Great Divide"), the group stopped at a canyon and wound up trying to resolve the differences between two feuding clans. Many fans felt it was the worst episode in the series. In the play when the actors playing them spot the canyon they point out its existence... and then decide not to stop and just keep going. There's also Sokka saying that whether or not Jet died wasn't very clear.
    • Though the last one was more of a Take That at the execs not letting them actually say that Jet was dead; Combustion Man's death also gets this treatment despite being a bit more clear.
  • The Simpsons: Matt Groening has occasionally taken shots at himself, including having his Life in Hell comics have coffee deflected onto them from a superior comic, showing himself willing to sign anything at a comic convention, and having Homer insult his work being in an art gallery.
    • His cameo in The Simpsons Game takes it even further with a scene where it is revealed even he doesn't know whether his name is pronounced "Groan-ing" or "Grain-ing" and another where he introduces himself as "animation's greatest luminary" only for Bart and Homer to blurt out "Seth McFarlane?"

Troy McClure: Yes, the Simpsons have come a lot way since an old alcoholic made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts.

    • The Comic Book Guy is also lightly based on Groening; specifically how he believed he would be perceived by fans.
    • And at the start of The Movie, we have Homer chastising viewers for watching in a cinema something they could watch for free at home.
    • In the Meta-episode, The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular, an impromptu interview with Mr. Groening has the camera barge into his office, to find an old, shriveled man with one eye doing tequila shots, who promply picks up a gun and shoots the camera man.

"Groening": Get outta mah office! *BANG* *BANG*

    • In the episode written by and guest starring Ricky Gervais, Gervais takes a swipe at himself, as Homer dismisses his schtick as "You take forever to say nothing!"
    • The series frequently makes fun of the fact it's animated overseas in Korea. Once they recruited Banksy to help them.
    • Rupert Murdoch appears as himself in "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" and refers to himself as "the billionaire tyrant." He also sends his goons after Homer and the others for breaking into his sky box.
  • South Park's "Cartoon Wars", a two episode-long Take That towards Family Guy, takes a couple jabs at itself when a stranger drops Kyle off to save Family Guy, "I know the show is just joke after joke with no structure, but I kinda like that. At least it's not all preachy and up its own ass with messages, you know?"
    • Then Family Guy DID become preachy and up its own ass with messages. Either that's a Funny Aneurysm Moment or Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • In the episode where Stan and Kenny go to Mel Gibson to get their money back for The Passion of the Christ, Stan says "This is just like when we got our money back for Baseketball," a film starring Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
    • An in-universe example: Several times Cartman actually helps out with the jokes directed towards him, saying a large structure compared to his ass is nowhere close to rivaling him. That might be due to Cartman Comically Missing the Point combined with his massive ego.
    • In the episode where Randy is going for the "Biggest Crap" Record along with a few jabs at Bono they would occasionally flash the words "Emmy Award Winning Series" on the bottom of the screen during the moments where the episode was reaching absurd levels of stupidity.
    • The Movie features the kids going to see in-universe TV show Terrence And Philip's own The Movie. At the end they complain about the film's lame animation, and then have an especially badly-animated walk away from the theater.
  • Find a Drawn Together episode in seasons 2 and 3 that doesn't do this. Try.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures frequently takes shots at its own writers. In addition to all the examples listed on Who Writes This Crap?, there are the lyrics for the theme song to the Wonderful Life Christmas special: "Our writers aren't gifted!/ The story has been lifted..."
  • Animaniacs is fond of this, and have one in the opening credits:

The writers flipped, we have no script
Why bother to rehearse?

    • The debut episode of Freakazoid has a similar zinger as they do a theme for the show using the Animaniacs melody:

It's Freakazoid and friends
It's what your dentist recommends
To patients who chew gum
This show is really dumb
It's Freakazoid and friends

  • Family Guy
    • Quagmire is starting to become this, pointing the flaws and many things disliked by the fans. It reached its peak in an spectacular Take That Scrappy at Brian, of all people.
    • An episode included a news anchor whose name was Chevapravatdumrong, but changed it because no one would allow that name on television. This is a dig at Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, one of the show's producers whose name appears at the beginning of each episode.
    • The Return of the Jedi special ends with Lois, Meg, and Chris outright insulting MacFarlane, calling him unoriginal, an asshole, and a one-trick pony ("We get it, you watched television in the 80s.").
  • Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" has the Star Trek cast performing self-deprecating versions of themselves; with Shatner playing his repuation for self-importance, as well as his failed attempts at music, to the hilt (say what you like about the guy's acting, he does have a great sense of self-parody).

Melllvar: Here I've been admiring a bunch of actors while you, a crew of genuine space heroes, risked your lives to save them.

    • There's also this clip.
    • Also, blurring the lines between this and Biting the Hand Humour, at one point Bender refers to the people who cancelled the series as idiots...and the people who brought it back as bigger idiots.
  • The creators of Robot Chicken occasionally insert themselves into sketches, usually for jokes at their own expense, and each season finale ends with the show's cancellation (necessitating the renewal of the series in each subsequent season premier).
  • In an episode of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, Edd makes a remark about Ed's "badly drawn fingers". Eddy also once says "Who writes this guy's material?".
  • One episode of The Fairly Odd Parents had Timmy trying to impress Trixy by winning a movie award. When he finaly does she still rejects him. When he asks why she says:

Trixie: Because, anonymous voice from nobody, you won an award for comedy, and everyone knows that comedy is the lowest form of entertainment. Next to animation.

Fanboy: Hey Kyle! It's pizza day! Come play pizza monkeys with us!
Kyle: You two are... pizza monkeys? What do you do, throw your poopparoni?
Fanboy and Chum Chum burst out with laughter
Kyle (sighing): I'm witty day after day - and this is what they laugh at.

  • Season 2 of Yogi's Treasure Hunt reveled in self-deprecation, parody and self-parody. Most notably in the episode "Yogi's Heroes," where Dick Dastardly and Muttley capture Snooper and Blabber and torture them by making them watch old Dastardly & Muttley cartoons.

Blabber: Our brains will turn to mush!

  • An episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle dealt with Boris and Natasha's attempts to open a giant trunk, and failing everything else they opt to bring in an A-bomb. The following exchange:

Rocky: They said "A-bomb." Do you know what that means, Bullwinkle?
Bullwinkle: Sure. "A bomb" is what some people call our show!
Rocky: I didn't think that was very funny.
Bullwinkle: (looking at us) Neither did they, apparently.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Halle Berry, as depicted up top, is one of the few actors to have won both an Academy Award (Monsters Ball) and a Golden Raspberry Award (Catwoman). For the latter, she donned the dress she wore accepting her Oscar, and went to the Razzies to accept the award personally. She even held both her Oscar and her Razzie up at the same time in her acceptance speech.
  • Woody Allen uses this throughout his work, most often against himself but occasionally against Jews or New Yorkers generally. For instance, from Annie Hall:

Alvy: Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I LIVE here.

  • Jon Stewart is a big fan of this. Like other Jewish comedians, he makes fun of his "Jewish-ness" as well as making fun of his, uh, lacking in height, his piriform physique, his home state of New Jersey, and the fact that he hasn't been in very successful movies and these jokes carry over to The Daily Show. Even The Daily Show itself is a victim as one of the longest Running Gags in the program was for a guest to mention how they've seen The Daily Show and for Jon Stewart to say that he himself doesn't care for it.

Stewart: I don't watch it, myself. I find it crass.

  • Rodney Dangerfield's the patron saint of this trope for a reason. His act was made up of self-directed Take Thats. It annoyed his wife to realize that people thought he really was the slob he portrays in his act.
  • Irish humour, when it's not about drinking, fighting, or religious conflict; is all about the Irish predilection for drinking, fighting, and religious conflict.
  • Jay Leno routinely makes jokes about the badness of his jokes. These are often among his funnier jokes.
  • This is cartoonist Robert Crumb's favorite subject.
  • Nearly all of Last Comic Standing's Jay London's act was doing this. He would frequently say, "It's almost over," as if the audience was suffering through his routine.
  • No episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien goes without it. Usually he's joking about his hair and/or awkward body.
  • In Conan O'Brien's opening song when Conan hosted the Primetime Emmys (a parody of "Trouble" from The Music Man), one of his examples of NBC's decline in quality was that the Emmys were opening with a song-and-dance number "performed by a host with limited musical ability!" (The chorus then shouted, "He can't sing!")
  • The opening screenshot of this software review shows a few open source developers have this sense of humor.
  • Bnet.com's Geoffrey James gives us The 10 Worst Business Books of All Time. The #5 entry, Success Secrets from Silicon Valley was written by James himself in 1998.
  • Will Rogers' frequently quoted line, "I'm not a member of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
  • Hugh Laurie once mentioned that the reason he keeps acting is because he hates himself and doesn't believe he deserves to be happy.
  • A big part of Icelandic humor, common factors include bad driving habits, cutting in lines, extremely frequent bodily noises and an Icelandic tourist attempting to speak English but constantly peppering his language with Icelandic-exclusive idioms (Venus pronounced as "weenis" and riding on horseback replaced by "fucking".)
  • The slogan for The Comedy Network, Canada's equivalent of Comedy Central, is 'Time Well Wasted.'
  • Self-deprecation is a notable part of Hungarian culture, including their own version of the old stand-by, "If two Hungarians are in a room, they'll have three opinions."
  • Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan interrupts his act frequently to make disapproving comments (in a different voice) about his jokes.

Is he really that fat? ... Why is he talking to himself up there?

  • Craig "The Lovemaster" Shoemaker will supply critical analysis of his jokes:

Mr. Erase: Oh my god, that was so disgusting! What a visual! I am so sorry. Erase, erase, erase!

  • Eddie Izzard will sometimes criticize himself, especially during his lapses when he forgets where he was going with a joke.
  • The Scottish comedian Arnold Brown tells his audiences that he likes to do self-deprecating humour, even though he's not very good at it.
  • Valve Time. Valve mocks itself for its loose schedule for putting out their games and failing to meet even that.
    • They even mock themselves for it in Portal2, as when their names appear on the screen in a credits sequence, GLaDOS reads off various negative personality traits for them, which includes "procrastinator" and "perfectionist". And the line in "Still Alive": "We're out of beta, we're releasing on time."
  • Many game companies will poke fun at their release delays, saying only that they'll be release "soon."
    • CCP Games seems to claim that they trademarked the joke.
    • Bungie Software, back before the Microsoft buyout.
    • NCSoft (now Paragon Studios) has apparently licensed this term from CCP.
    • Blizzard Entertainment. It seems that successful game companies that can afford to push back release dates for the sake of quality have come to use Soon™ as a way of mocking both themselves and their fans.
    • Used by CRS, creators of World War II Online to the point where it has become a Memetic Mutation.
  • Ben Affleck
    • when he hosted Saturday Night Live, joked that he would be endorsing John McCain in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election because every candidate he ever supported lost.
    • When promoting the film Gigli, which by that point, was infamous as one of the biggest flops of the decade, went on The Tonight Show and read his "favorite" parts of the movie reviews, namely, the most scathing and brutal quips from film reviewers about how bad the movie and Affleck himself were.
    • Affleck's late-'90s Saturday Night Live appearance was full of this, with Mango calling him "Ben Whofleck?", and Gwyneth Paltrow showing up because she thought he would need help with the opening monologue.
    • During the commentary for Mallrats where he describes himself as desperate and suicidal during the production of the movie, coming home at night with a bag of sleeping pills and preparing to just end it all. It's funnier than it sounds.
  • Reportedly, Matt Damon thought the "Mmmmatt... DAMON!" caricature of himself in Team America: World Police was hilarious.
  • The British channel E4 is mostly composed of British soap operas, American drama and comedy, and reality shows. Its advertising mocks the melodrama of British soaps and American drama, the ridiculousness of American comedy, the stupidity of reality TV and itself for broadcasting them.
  • Finnish humor
    • Highlights the national stereotypes of stubbornnesss, drunkeness and quietness. For example, two men went camping for a week with several bottles of vodka. The last day one of them raised a glass and said: "Cheers!" The other angrily responded: "Did we come here to drink or talk?"
    • There's a whole category of jokes starting "A Swede, a Norwegian and a Finn..." that tend to paint the Finn as hardy, if a bit thick in the head. A pair of illustrative examples:

A Swede, a Norwegian and a Finn tried to swim from Norway to America on a dare. Ten miles from the Norwegian coast, the Swede gasped "I can't make it..." and promptly drowned. Fifty miles from the Norwegian coast, the Norwegian gasped "I can't make it..." and promptly drowned. The Finn had just caught sight of the American coast, when he sighed "I can't make it either..." and promptly swam back to Norway.

  • The basis of the whole Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy both focus on aspects of themselves and their family, then make as many redneck jokes about it as they can.
  • It is a common feature in Filipino humor to make fun of their reputation for procrastination and lateness known among Filipinos as "Filipino Time". Another common self-deprecating Filipino joke is to comment on the unstable political environment of the Philippines or to make fun of the almost religiously fanatical celebrity-worship tendencies of Pinoy Pop Culture. They also make fun of their religious fanaticism.
  • Indians love to make fun of themselves for their lateness as well, joking that the acronym I.S.T doesn't mean "Indian Standard Time" but "Indian Stretchable Time."
  • Few people enjoy the "Scots are cheap" stereotype as much as Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.
    • "My uncle once dropped ten pence; he bent over to pick it up, and it hit him in the back of the head."
    • "You may have heard that nasty rumour floating around that copper wire was invented by two Scotsmen fighting over a penny."
    • One time, Connolly was on Conan O' Brien explaining that he once bungee jumped naked on his travel show. Why? The place apparently had a policy that if you jumped completely naked, it was free. When Conan asked why he did this just to save a few tens of dollars, Connolly replied "You'd have to be a Scotsman to understand".
  • Kevin Smith describes his wife as a man-hating feminist, "which explains why she married the guy with the tiniest dick on the planet."
  • Brian Regan uses this in a lot of his comedy acts as well, usually to make him look stupid. The best example is his skit "Stupid in School"

Teacher: Brian, what's the "I before E" rule?
Brian: Uh... um... I before E... Always...

Appearing in an early season of Top Gear
Jeremy Clarkson: "You are the most famous person we ever had on the show."
Patrick Stewart: "Well this must be a terrible show then!"

(After being called "two-faced"): "But sir, if I was two faced, do you think I would be wearing this one?"

  • Polish humour has this in spades. Examples:
    • The "German, Russian and Pole" jokes. They usually start with the trio getting into trouble, and each of them trying to work his way out of it. The Pole traditionally ends up the most successful - but through the least moral means.
    • Satan caught German, Russian and Pole. He gave them two metal balls, and ordered to do something interesting with them. Russian started juggling, German placed one ball on another and it didn't fall, and Pole lost one of the balls... and broke the other.
    • One of the most popular targets for mockery in Poland is the public opinion's tendency to veer towards extremes. A successful sportsman becomes the nation-wide butt of jokes overnight if he loses as much as one match/fight/competition/whatever. Many famous musicians had their careers utterly broken because they failed to win the Eurovision Song Contest. This leads to any number of jokes lampshading the trend.
    • General Polish tendency to praise Heroic Sacrifice and Moral Victory is also often parodied. When President Lech Kaczynski, criticized and made fun of on a daily basis, died in a plane crash, he was suddenly showered with praise by the same people who made fun of him in the first place. This lead to a minor meme "Who swapped the bodies?"
    • Probably the most mocked Polish characteristic, however, is treating our Acceptable Targets as restricted to us. There have been several instances where a foreign media outlet would repeat normal Polish jokes about a public figure. We promptly declared jihad.
    • Poles also love to complain. Mostly about how much Poles complain.
  • British writer, critic and presenter Charlie Brooker is fond of this, describing himself, among other things, as having a face "like a paedophile walrus".
  • Stephen Fry's autobiographies Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles both have a strong theme of this running though them; Fry will regularly suggest a plausible psychological reason for the mistakes and wrongs he's done in his life only to then take them back and accuse himself of just being selfish and immoral.
  • In an odd case of Double Insult Backfire, Sam Clemens tried to tell a self-deprecating joke at a banquet honoring legendary American writers Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, claiming he ran into drunken reprobates who were posing as them while he was working as a silver miner in California. While he was really poking fun at his own lowly stature at the time, the press misconstrued this as Clemens insulting the writers themselves, and he was so ashamed by the fallout he moved to Germany for several years. And thus, Mark Twain created the celebrity roast.
  • Aussies don't make fun of themselves, so much as they make fun of everyone, including themselves, but it has the same effect.

You know you're Australian if you spend a month looking for the remote instead of getting up and pressing the button. We refuse to let a remote get the better of us, dammit!

  • Andy Warhol once said in an interview that he couldn't defend his works against his critics, because they were right.
  • Chis Colfer of Glee makes quite a lot of self-deprecating jokes in interviews.
  • Say what you will about Glenn Beck, but he's a good sport when it comes to those parodying him. Two of the most well-known parodies of Beck were the ones done by Jon Stewart. The very next day those aired, Beck replayed both of them on his show and has admitted they were both hilarious. Also, when organizing his Rally to Restore Honor, Glenn Beck had Frank Caliendo, the King of Impressions himself, on his radio show to talk extensively about Caliendo's developing impression of Beck and Glenn then invited Caliendo, should he finish developing the impression, to open up the Rally with a short routine in order to help ease the hundreds of thousands in attendance out of their tension.
  • Aside from mercilessly roasting other celebrities, Joan Rivers is known for making jokes about her lack of a sex life, lack of sex appeal and plastic surgery.
  • There are some jokes for cities/states that start with "You know you're from (insert state) when..." For example: You know you're from California when the fastest part of your commute is down your driveway.
  • New Jersey's legislature once famously attempted to make Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" the state song. "Born to Run" is a song about wanting to get out of the state of New Jersey.
    • Oregonians are known for making fun of rain and hippies, the two staples of the state. Except for Eastern Oregon, but no one cares about Eastern Oregon.
    • Seattleites talk about rain, Grunge, rain, Starbucks, rain, hating Twilight, rain, and our lovely rain.
    • In Washington, Damp is a shade."oh that's nice but do you have it Damp Red?"
    • Ask anyone from Iowa what there is to do there. "Leaving's always good" is the standard response.
  • The most common fall guy in Afrikaans jokes is someone called Van Der Merwe, which is a typical Afrikaans surname. His opponents are usually the Scot and the Englishman, ethnicities which Afrikaners historically have been in conflict with and traditionally don't particularly like. And the Scotsman and the Englishman always, always win... except if Van Der Merwe accidentally wins through his sheer stupidity. It's like self-racism. Still funny though.
    • Hence the name of the none-too-bright protagonist of District 9, written and directed by an Afrikaner.
  • Stand up comedian Simon Amstell spends the vast majority of his shows waxing lyrical about how socially inept he is.
  • Lindsay Lohan sometimes likes to mock her "party girl" image, the most notable example being that "Funny or Die" parody of an E-Harmony ad.
    • She does this on Saturday Night Live as well most recently She played herself as a an inmate participating in a "scared straight program" with sketch regular Lorenzo Macintosh played by Kenan Thompson.
  • Ken Dodd delved into this occasionally.

Comedy's in me blood. I wish it was in me act, but there you go.

  • Barack Obama has had some, like "Some have said I'm arrogant. They obviously haven't looked at my approval rating," and the infamous politically incorrect ad-lib about how he should be bowling for the Special Olympics.
  • George W. Bush was also a good sport about all the criticism he received in his time, as seen in a really funny bit of stand-up comedy he did along with an impersonator.
  • Britney Spears and Emilie Autumn are noted for their self deprecation and self awareness.
  • George Lucas frequently makes fun of his own extremely popular changes to Star Wars, including wearing a "Han Shot First" shirt and having Darth Vader give a speech about how much he hates the changes.
  • Jeff Dunham did this in "Controlled Chaos", where he shows pictures of himself as a kid and he (and his puppets) can't believe how he would bring ventriloquist dummies to school to get free-professional pictures, in addition to the stuff he actually wore as a kid.
  • John Oliver does this a lot, most notably in his Comedy Central special.

What I wanted to be, when I was growing up, was an athlete. [...] Really? An athlete, John? And the word athlete means the same in Britain as it does here, does it? [...] What sport was it in Britain that rewards a concave chest?! Did you, perhaps, plan on becoming a sail?

  • A huge part of the Canadian identity, according to the rest of the world, is lumberjacks, Mounties, helmetheads, polar bears, maple syrup, beer chilled on the back step, hard liquor that tastes like gasoline and unfailing politeness. According to any Canadian, the keystone of the Canadian identity is managing to both mock and cherish those stereotypes at the same time.
  • Daniel Radcliffe seems to be this way, especially in this conversation about how he needs help getting dressed:

Interviewer: You can't tie your shoelaces?
Daniel: (mock outrage) Who tipped you off about that? Yeah...shoelaces are not a strong point of mine, for whatever reason...

  • A number of Mike Birbiglia's stand-up routines center around how he's geeky, weird, and not a very good comedian. One routine in particular tells how he was brought in as one of the celebrities for a celebrity golf fundraiser. He was assigned to a group of golfers, who innocently wondered who their celebrity would be. It took Mike a minute to realize that he was the celebrity, and promptly began apologizing because he felt like a letdown.
  • Barry Cryer tends to engage in this a lot, joking about his lack of talent, inflating his reputation for heavy drinking, and claiming that people who come to see his gigs have confused him with Barry Took. He's stated in several interviews that this can be traced back to Yorkshire tradition.

I've just sung to you! I don't know why, you've never done anything to me...

  • Up-and-coming writer for television adaptation Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, mentioned on his blog that he was working on "one bitch of an adaptation" because the original writer made the "damn battle" he was trying to adapt for the screen "way too big and too expensive". He would earlier have choice words about said original writer's lack of sense of scale in making the gigantic wall separating Westeros from the north "way too high"; even when they cut its heigh in half it still looked unnaturally gigantic. Said original writer is, apparently, one "George R. R. Martin".

Notes

  1. Usually along the lines of, "I meant for this character to look like John Travolta, but it didn't turn out so well. Sorry for not being talented enough."
  2. By this point, Arnold had already been elected Governor of California.
  3. Which in Real Life was done to explain his absence from battles, due to his Japanese counterpart being Killed Off for Real and Saban not being able to make their own action footage yet
  4. Its final price tag
  5. The "MD" designation was left unchanged in North American releases, despite the Mega Drive being called the Sega Genesis over there.
  6. see the top and bottom right corners