Five Offbeat Comedy Tactics That Are Hilarious When Done Right

Billy Madison

There are lots of “straight up” comedy methods out there that work very well.  And by straight up I mean things like a curse to lighten up the mood or someone hitting their head on the wall for an easy laugh.   These types of ploys don’t take much thought or creativity.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome.

But on a much more subtle level are your weird references or lines that some people might say “huh?” to.  These are some of the things I happen to love in comedies.  They were very prevalent in the Adam Sandler prime years and some other movies you may have seen.

They also exist on some comedy shows of today.  But here are five specific examples of offbeat comedy tactics that work very well if done right

Exhausting Repetitiveness


Some people hate it.  But I happen to enjoy it.  Perfect example?  Family Guy.  Any time Peter hurts himself and writhes in pain 18 times it’s funny.  The chicken fights?  It’s so exhausting that it’s actually funny.

Long Stares/Dead Silence


This is a Norm MacDonald tribute.  I happen to be a huge fan of Norm and he was the king of the uncomfortable stare and silence during weekend update.  People didn’t know what the hell was going on when he’d say something ludicrous but if he stared at you in silence for long enough, you just had to laugh.

“Appropriate” Randomness


I got one phrase for ya.  Sloppy Joe lady in Billy Madison.   I mean how weird was that?  OK maybe Farley getting a handjob from the Penguin was more random but I think you guys know what I mean.  It’s one thing to be random because it’s just dumb, it’s another to find really funny random concepts which I think the old school Sandler stuff did quite well.

Obscure References


Family Guy tends to do this quite often.  Hell, Hot Rod used the soundtrack from Midnight Express in one of its scenes.  I love when a movie pays homage to something that I feel like very few people will get.    Or how about the Cool Beans scene?

Odd Musical Pairings


The best example I can use is the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs when Steeler’s Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” is playing.  Many times odd music is used in weird and cryptic movies but it’s also used in comedy.  How about Billy Madison when you first see Steve Buscemi’s character?   Remember the music when he’s putting on makeup?

In any event, I love when movies use this weird stuff in addition to your typical laugh methods.

  • Cheryl

    I would like to suggest the entire movie Napoleon Dynamite. I’m just not sure how to classify it: The retro clothes/hairstyles even tho it took place in recent times, anything said by Kip, his grandmother racing quads with her old lady friends…hmm..Napoleon in general…also the fact that for most that movie wasn’t funny until you watched it a few more times.

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  • Nattyb

    Cheryl, I can’t say I disagree at all. Loved that movie.

  • Wait, exhaustive repetitiveness is ‘offbeat?’ That’s the only thing that makes me laugh. Well that and dead baby jokes.

  • Henrik

    Yes, That Family Guy joke is hilarious… If you are 13.

  • Jeff

    You lost me at Family Guy. Of all the ‘gags’ they do, the repetitious ones are the most unfunny.

  • masshole

    What is the Hot Rod cool beans scene referencing?

  • snowden

    Family Guy blows

  • Orleanas

    I found/find Norm hilarious–though his comedy is of the cringe worthy, uncomfortable, do I dare laugh kind, is he being serous kind. He is a wise-cracking, quick witted dude, as evidenced by his appearance with Coco. Laugh out loud funny.

  • Sam

    No one does the random reference jokes better than the TV show Psych. If you haven’t seen it I strongly suggest you give it a shot. Some times the cases are a tad ridiculous but it is always laugh out loud funny.

  • matt

    I love when long awkward silences/stares are done right. I don’t know why but it kills me.

    Cheryl, a good way to classify Napoleon Dynamite would be awful.

  • fluffy

    Curb your enthusiasm is fantastic at those awkard silences/stares scenes!

  • Madison

    @ fluffy

    Yes – when Larry eyes someone down as if he’s examining them. Perfect example.

  • jaromir

    Family Guy is not funny!


  • Mightyfaker

    Psych is a great show, very quick and sharp humor.

  • Candee

    Family Guy is funny some of the time. I also don’t watch it enough. From what I’ve seen…it does have funny. Other times I’m thinking, “I’m going to…change the channel…”

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