2

I found it hard to summarise this in the title, and I thought a few examples would illustrate what I mean best:

"Well known local celebrities include Alan Bennett and Barry Cryer" (lead up)

<Audience woo>

"Wait a minute: Well known local celebrities include Alan Bennett, and Barry Cryer used to know his milkman". (Extra information).

<Audience laugh>


Another example:

"'Open fire!', roared the Colonel." (lead up)

<Gunshot sound effects> (reaction)

"Yes I do love an open fire, he went on, warming his hands by the blaze" (Extra information, in this case laughing at the expense of whoever's in charge of sound effects).


I hope I've made myself clear as to the type of comedy I mean, I'm just wondering whether it has it's own name.

  • 1
    Both your examples involve ambiguity/mis-direction... – Dan Jan 21 '17 at 19:20
  • Variants on this device were famously used by the Two Ronnies. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 21 '17 at 20:01
  • 1
    That’s called a ... wait for it.... joke ! ;-) – Jim Jan 21 '17 at 22:04
  • 1
    Yes and doesn't Dan's comment describe all jokes? – Robbie Goodwin Feb 4 '17 at 17:23
3

These could be considered examples of the device called paraprosdokian:

A paraprosdokian (/pærəprɒsˈdoʊkiən/) is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, or larger discourse is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

(Source - Wikipedia, emphasis mine)

(I earlier thought these were garden path sentences, but since the trickery here is withheld information, not unusual parsing, this seems a better fit.)

  • I was just about to say that the latter part of your answer is better fit, but then got caught up in the humorous affect of examples of paraprosdokian.+1 – Nikki Jan 22 '17 at 6:29
  • @Nikki Yes, those are hilarious. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Seems like editing out the first part was the right choice. – Tushar Raj Jan 22 '17 at 6:32
  • 1
    @TusharRaj Thanks for keeping you edit in parentheses, otherwise I wouldn't have found out about garden path sentences as well as paraprodokians. – thosphor Jan 23 '17 at 10:01
  • @user3087409: Happy to help. Have fun exploring... – Tushar Raj Jan 23 '17 at 10:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.