Example: a video shows someone being injured and often times the top comment is something like "Wow... it's so tragic that people still think it's ok to wear green pants" or something similarly minor and unrelated to the more serious, obviously intended focus of the situation. I see this done frequently by comedians and on TV (South Park does this a lot).

  • Irony is often ignoring what you darn know for something else. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 0:13
  • 1
    This is a good question... It is a really common comedic device - misdirected focus. (I hope someone has an answer - I'm pretty curious...)
    – Oldbag
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 0:22

4 Answers 4


You are describing an instance of Bathos:


2. Rhetoric. Ludicrous descent from the elevated to the commonplace in writing or speech; anticlimax.

1875 A. Maclaren Serm. 2nd Ser. xii. 211 It is as absurd bathos as to say, the essentials of a judge are integrity, learning, and an ermine robe!

c. 1979: I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again (BBC Radio Comedy) MARY: “John – once we had something that was pure, and wonderful, and good. What’s happened to it?”

JOHN: “You spent it all.”


Facetious (Wiktionary)

  1. Treating serious issues with (often deliberately) inappropriate humour; flippant.

    Robbie's joke about Heather's appearance was just him being facetious.

  2. Pleasantly humorous; jocular.

  3. Of an idea or statement, humorously silly or counterproductive for the purpose of sarcastically advocating the opposite.

Flippant (Wiktionary)

  1. Showing disrespect through a casual attitude, levity, and a lack of due seriousness; pert.

  2. (archaic) glib; speaking with ease and rapidity


There are a few words which might be Partially Suitable here.

gallows humour
Comedy that makes light of death or other serious matters
humor that makes fun of a life-threatening, disastrous, or terrifying situation

faux pas
A socially awkward or tactless act
Embarrassing Error

gaffe / gaucherie / solecism
Synonyms for faux pas

non sequitur
A reply that has no relevance to what preceded it

We could combine these terms into something like this :

The top comment in the car accident video was a non-sequiturial (??) faux pas bordering on gallows humour.
The Prince , known for his gaffes , indulged in gallows humour , when he non-sequiturially (??) voiced his faux pas observations.


The general comedic device is called a misdirection although it is mainly associated with stand-up comedy.

A comedian will sometimes use misdirection to have the audience think they're going to say one thing but then get the proverbial rug pulled from under them during the punchline. Wikipedia/Comedic_device

Bait-and-Switch is a more specific term provided by TVTropes. The name is originated from a now-illegal advertising practice and it differs from paraprosdokian:

A type of setup where a character leads the audience or other characters into thinking they are going to say or do something, but says or does something unexpected. This is usually a joke, and if the punch line of the joke causes the first part to take on a new meaning (e.g., "I just flew in from Chicago, and boy are my arms tired"), it is technically called a "paraprosdokian."

There are examples of bait-and-switch from Western animations like Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons. Here is a good and absurd example from Family Guy provided by TVTropes:

In an earlier episode, there's a Cutaway Gag where Peter cuts a cake but ends up accidentally slicing a woman inside the cake (who was supposed to surprise the guests by jumping out of it). Peter yells, "Ah, crap!" but not because he killed the woman; it was because the cake was coconut flavor.

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