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running gag

a humorous remark


a running gag = ein wiederkehrendes Element (eine Art “Leitmotiv”) der Komik und des Humors



“15 Of The Greatest RUNNING GAGS In TV History. They’re either completely unexpected or become so predictable that you can’t help but love them for their sheer audacity. “

TheThings dot com

Did you

a running gag
noun phrase

1. a joke or humorous allusion used recurrently in a play, film, television skit*, etc., for a cumulative comic effect.

2. a subject, reference, remark, etc., that is a continual source of humor**.

Random House Dictionary (US)

*sketch **humour (UK)


The meaning of “gag” as in “a joke” especially a practical joke, is from 1847 and probably related to theatrical sense of “matter inserted (stuffed into) in a written piece by the actor”; or from the slang verbal sense of “to deceive, take in with talk” from 1777, all of which perhaps are from the verb gag meaning “to stuff or fill.”

The word “Gagster” meaning comedian appeared by 1932.


Running gags can begin with an instance of unintentional humor that is repeated in variations as the joke grows familiar and audiences anticipate reappearances of the gag.

Only those who have shared a common knowledge or experience of the gag can understand and find it funny. As an “in-joke” it works to build community, sometimes at the expense of outsiders. Part of the power of an in-joke is that its audience knows that many do not understand it.


in joke, running joke, inside joke

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Hey André, did you know that a famous RUNNING GAG in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria is the English phrase ‘The Same Procedure’? It’s from a New Year’s Eve TV comedy called ‘Dinner for One’ ”?.

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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