Black Comedy

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Synonyms: black humor, dark comedy, dark humor or gallows humor
See also: Comedy, Satire
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Black comedy, is a sub-genre of comedy and satire where topics and events that are usually treated seriously are treated in a satirical manner, while still being portrayed as the negative events that they are. Typical targets are death, violence, crime, murder, suicide, insanity, disability, environmental disasters, political corruption, poverty, famine, disease, drug abuse, child abuse, animal abuse, rape, pedophilia, castration, cannibalism, war, terrorism, racism, sexism, homophobia, stereotypes, and line-cutting.[1]

Black Comedy, however, doesn't necessarily have to involve death or violence; anything that's horrific, tragic, or otherwise dark and cynical can be fodder for it.

Black comedy usually derives humor from such topics either through cartoonish exaggeration (without entering the domain of uncomfortable realism) or sheer bluntness. A stellar example of the former is a scene in which an animal-loving assassin accidentally runs over an old woman's dog in A Fish Called Wanda; the reveal of the dead dog was originally filmed with realistic gore effects, which audiences found uncomfortable and unfunny. The scene was then altered to have the dog simply be flattened a-la Wile E. Coyote, which removes the disturbing realism and becomes darkly hilarious instead (said animal-loving assassin's inevitably horrified reaction to the event further aids in this).

What makes it different of other sub-genre of comedy is that the theme of the comedy gravitates towards topics that are considered to be "dark" and/or taboo (such as depression, death, atrocities, racism, poverty, etc.)

A joke might revolve around, for example, a homeless man committing a string of murders so that he will get sentenced to death, a state that, properly tied up in appeals, is better than his former life expectancy and quality. Delivered correctly, it can be very funny, yet at the same time more than a little disturbing. If done wrong, however, the audience may be extremely offended, which is often used as an in-universe result.


  • Adolf Hitlarious: When Adolf Hitler is mocked in a non-serious way.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: When the abuse and mistreatment of animals is played for laughs.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death: Jokes about pets dying.
  • Black Comedy Burst: When an otherwise lighthearted comedy suddenly starts using darker jokes.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: Jokes about cannibals eating other people.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Jokes about rapists and people suffering sexual assault.
  • Comedic Lolicon: Jokes involving pedophiles.
  • Bloody Hilarious: When the humor is based on explicit blood, gore, and violence.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: When a character's Lack of Empathy and callous treatment of others is played for laughs.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: One of the (so-called) "good guys" is inclined toward hilariously offensive behavior.
  • Laughably Evil: A bad guy is depicted in a humorous manner, despite (or perhaps because of) his villainous actions against others.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Some villains possess a very sick and twisted sense of humor to complement their evil deeds.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: When a joke is so blatantly offensive that it becomes funny instead.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Or instead, an attempt at black comedy falls short on the "comedy" part and comes across as just offensive.
  • Dark Parody: A darkly humorous parody that's far more disturbing than the work it's spoofing.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: A common variant is to make a twisted parody of a work of children's media; filling it up with adult content such as uncensored profanity, graphic depictions of sexuality, and very gruesome acts of violence.
  • Subverted Sitcom: A parody of a classic sitcom that usually plays it for dark laughs.
  • Death as Comedy: Someone's death is treated as a joke.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Someone dies, and the characters around them react with happiness.
  • Bond One-Liner: A hero or villain makes a joke about someone they just killed in a gruesome manner.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: A similar kind of joke made just before killing someone.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Funerals are supposed to be somber, serious ceremonies; but not in this one.
  • Gallows Humor: Coping with imminent death or other dire situations by joking about them.
  • Grave Humor: A humorous epitaph written on a dead person's tombstone.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Jokes revolving around people killing themselves.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: When a character gets repeatedly killed and inexplicably resurrected multiple times.
  • Undignified Death: Somebody dies in an embarrassing way.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Jokes about children suffering from parental abuse or other traumatic experiences.
  • Horror Comedy: The hybrid sub-genre of both comedy and horror. There can be some overlap between this trope and black comedy, if the more disturbing horror tropes (especially the ones pertaining to death and violence) are parodied for humor.
  • Kafka Komedy: A form of dark comedy where the humor is based more on people's constant misery and misfortune, rather than death or violence.
  • The Chew Toy: Especially if an unfortunate loser's suffering is taken to extreme levels, and played more often for laughs than drama.
  • Sadist Show: If everybody in the story gets treated like shit for the audience's amusement.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: A surgeon uses surgical tools or procedures on his patient that no sane doctor would ever attempt, and has a questionable regard for the patient's wellbeing.
  • Poverty for Comedy: Being poor is funny.
  • Shock Site: Showing to someone something sexually or violently disturbing out of nowhere on the Internet is portrayed as funny.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The main character is a bad person, but that's okay. The fun is in seeing him get screwed.


  1. ^ "Black Comedy - TV Tropes". 2022-02-24. Archived from the original on 2022-02-24.