Dark humor is hilarious, but there's something to be said for a scene where normal humor, like back-and-forth quips and witty wordplay, is suddenly broken by, say, the corpse on the table splitting in half and all the characters having to turn around and/or vomit in disgust... Potentially barfing into the now ruptured cadaver, thus morphing into incredibly, horribly dark humor.

Is this a "dick move" on the author's part for subverting the audience too far, or is it an acceptable form of dark, even black, comedy? Or is that style reserved for more visual formats, like say Kingdom of Loathing, or Rick and Morty? I assume it would be necessary to warn the readers of such appalling content beforehand.

  • Someone who is merely visiting the morgue would probably turn and vomit (Normally people turn away from what is making them sick). The Corner will probably look at the sick person, shake her head, and say, "First time, hon?" and pull out the next tool to continue the autopsy. A corpse splitting open is a typical work day.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


Yes, the expectation of something funny can definitely be subverted with something dark or gruesome and still be considered comedy. In fact, this is a common technique used in many forms of comedy, such as satire, black comedy, and even some forms of slapstick. By subverting the audience's expectations and presenting something unexpected or shocking, the comedian can create a sense of surprise or contrast that can be humorous. Of course, not everyone finds the same things funny, so whether or not a particular joke or comedic moment is successful will ultimately depend on the individual audience member's sense of humor.

Here are three comedians who are known for their black comedy:

Dave Chappelle - Dave Chappelle is an American stand-up comedian and actor who is known for his irreverent and often controversial brand of black comedy. His stand-up specials and sketch comedy show, "Chappelle's Show," often tackle serious social and political issues with a dark and satirical twist.

Sarah Silverman - Sarah Silverman is an American stand-up comedian, actress, and writer who is known for her sharp wit and clever observations. She often uses her comedy to challenge societal norms and taboos, and is not afraid to push the boundaries with her dark, sometimes offensive humor.

Louis C.K. - Louis C.K. is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer who is known for his dark and cynical brand of comedy. He often tackles difficult subjects, such as racism, sexism, and mortality, with a frank and brutally honest approach that has made him one of the most respected comedians of his generation.

These are just a few examples, of course. There are many other comedians who are known for their black comedy, and the list could easily be expanded to include many more names.

  • Southpark has been running for a quarter of a century on black comedy.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 16:27
  • My original question, however: How far is too far? And how do you avoid going over that line?
    – ThisKobold
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 19:35

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