Self-Parody

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Did I just abridge my own series?

When a work parodies itself.

There are several ways to do this. Some involve Breaking the Fourth Wall.

If a self-parody is to be done without direct self-reference, an easy method is having a Show Within a Show be a parody of the original show. The parallels should be obvious to the alert viewer, but the characters may write them off.

All deliberate self-parodies tend toward Self-Deprecating Humor. The sort of work most likely to have one is a series that is a Long Runner or is in an established "verse" - else there isn't enough material.

This is hard to do well. And woe to the work that does it by accident.

Examples of Self-Parody include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A law firm company released several ads showing people hugely distraught over minor things, such as a paper cut or power going out during an intense video game session, and the "victims" demand justice for the parties responsible. The ads usually end with the number to call to firm and a disclaimer saying "But keep in mind that you really need to be injured."

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Dragonball Z invokes this trope during the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai when there's a screening of a movie about "How Mr. Satan defeated Cell".

Goku: Well, it was ridiculous and untrue, but it kept me entertained!

Card Games[edit | hide]

  • Magic: The Gathering has joke sets Unglued and Unhinged. While a lot of the cards are just silly in general, many cards take potshots at both Magic's fans and its developers. For example, one card called "Look at Me, I'm the DCI" depicts a Wizards employee making banning decisions with a dartboard.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Some interpretations of All Star Batman and Robin suggest that it is a Self-Parody of Frank Miller's earlier work. Note that there's really nothing to indicate this other than the fact that if it's not, the series is really horribly-written.
  • The Marvel Super Heroes: What The-?! series by Marvel Comics is a Stop-motion style series of parodies and jokes regarding the Marvel universe, with oddities such as M.O.D.O.K., the old shame of Tony, Civil War, and the highly regarded Old Man Logan.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Enchanted was Disney making fun of itself.
  • Diamonds Are Forever remains one of the campiest James Bond films.
  • Gremlins 2 The New Batch basically made fun of the first film and audience reactions to it.
  • A Cock And Bull Story thrives on this. From Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing caricatures of themselves to everyone always talking about how difficult it will be to make a Tristam Shandy adaptation, the film's willingness to play with itself is rivaled only by its willingness to play with the Fourth Wall.
  • Snakes on a Plane seems to be well-aware that airline disaster movies are nearly impossible to take seriously anymore, by not even trying.

Literature[edit | hide]

... Fools! Did they think that the airlessness of absolute space, the heatlessness of absolute zero, the yieldlessness of absolute neutronium, could stop QUADGOP THE MERCOTAN? And the stowaway, that human wench Cynthia, cowering in helpless terror just beyond this thin and fragile wall...

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Believe it or not, but Sesame Street had a "Cookie World" episode. Starring who else?
  • From House, some of House's favorite soaps. Maybe.
  • "Jerry" on Seinfeld.
  • "Wormhole X-Treme" and "200" from Stargate SG-1.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the sketch "What the Stars Foretell" has a character starting to rattle off synonyms, then a poster drops down so the studio audience can continue reading from the Long List. Terry Jones and Michael Palin wrote this as a parody of Chapman and Cleese's thesaurus-inspired sketches; they were surprised when it was accepted for the show.
    • Also written as a joke was the sketch "The Extremely Dull Life of a City Stockbroker," a parody of Jones and Palin's sketches by Chapman and Idle. This goes to show how easily a Gag Series can accommodate Self-Parody.
  • Gekisou Sentai Carranger is both a full Super Sentai series and a parody of the Sentai formula. Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is its Spiritual Successor.
    • And on the other side of the Pacific, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and (to a lesser extent) Power Rangers RPM. RPM was something of an interesting clash, as it was the same time a Darker and Edgier take on the source material (the Rangers are the main force protecting the only human city left after a robot apocalypse) and constantly lampshaded its own tropes at the same time ("Sometimes when I morph, I can't help but notice this gigantic explosion right behind me for no apparent reason. (...) Now, could that happen to me in the kitchen or something?").
  • In Father Ted, the priests are big fans of a series called Father Ben about stupid priests who live on an island.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" (season 3, episode 13) made fun of the cliches the show established.
  • Supernatural does this at least once a season, in episodes such as "Hollywood Babylon" and "The Real Ghostbusters".
    • Both of which pale into insignificance next to "The French Mistake".
  • Boy Meets World: The Show Within a Show "Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had "A Day in the Life" in season 2 and "The Play's the Thing" in season 4.
  • Every The X-Files that bordered on Deconstruction entered this at times (examples include "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", "X-Cops" and "Hollywood AD").
  • How I Met Your Mother's "The Stinson Missile Crisis" parodied itself via the setting of Robin in court-mandated therapy after a mysterious sequence of events, telling her therapist the story of How She Wound Up Assaulting A Woman And Getting Stuck In This Court-Mandated Therapy. She then proceeds to use an unnecessary level of detail and a ridiculous number of tangents that she insists are essential in order to understand the full story while her therapist waits impatiently and is repeatedly fooled into thinking that this moment is the one where she finally Assaults The Woman—basically, doing to her therapist exactly what the show has been doing to its viewers for seven years. The episode also takes advantage of the parody format to push its specific style of using Flash Forwards, Flash Backs, Flash-Sidewayses, imagine spots, cutaway gags, InternalMonologues, Three Lines Some Waiting, and Lemony Narrator-esque commentary Up to Eleven, rather like "The Zeppo" above. Between this and "Symphony of Illumination", one might start to suspect that the entire Framing Device of the show is an idea Future!Ted got from Future!Robin.
    • Not only that, but her story leads both Kevin and the viewers to believe that the woman she assaulted is Nora, when in fact it turns out to be someone completely different, possibly referencing HIMYM's pilot episode, where both Ted's kids and the viewers were falsely led to believe that The Mother was Robin.

Live performance[edit | hide]

  • The final clown segment in Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion goofily reenacts all of the show's serious acts, complete with threadbare mockeries of key costumes and props.
  • An accidental example of this is "Right Brain", a song from the 1994 New York Theatre Workshop version of Jonathan Larson's Rent. Later becoming "One Song Glory", many fans who hear this old version of the inspirational song can hardly listen without feeling the need to vomit or burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
  • The tribute concert to Cameron Mackintosh, "Hey Mr Producer", features a pre-taped segment in which Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber parody their songs "Send in the Clowns" and "Music of the Night", while ribbing Cameron Mackintosh at the same time. It can be called the highlight of the show.

Music[edit | hide]

  • KMFDM has quite a few songs dedicated to lampooning itself. There's Sucks (KMFDM SUCKS! remains a popular chant to this day) and Megalomaniac and Light and Intro. Oh, and Virus, to a lesser extent.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • Orson Welles was the guest host of The Jack Benny Program for four episodes in 1943 while Jack was ill. The main humor of the episodes comes from Welles parodying his own image as a director with a huge ego and a flair for over-the-top filmmaking:

Don: Oh, by the way, Orson, what's the title of this picture you're making?
Welles: Well, I've called my story very simply "The March of Destiny", and it deals with everything that ever happened.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Red Robot:"Punchline five people will get!"
Clango: "Additional nonsensical rejoinder!"

Western Animation[edit | hide]