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Traditionally, a joke consists of a succinct remark made in response to a setup, after which either the conversation goes on in its original direction, or the scene ends. An Escalating Punchline, on the other hand, keeps extending the remark by tagging on further and further additions, often with each being more extreme than the last. These are always short and delivered in an uninterrupted sequence, separated by very brief but distinct pauses. With sufficient increments, it can turn into an Overly Long Gag.
Jokes like this usually rely on Crosses the Line Twice, where it gets progressively funnier as the punchline is exaggerated. Compare to Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking and Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick, where all the escalation occurs in one section of the punchline, usually with the last part; also see One-Two Punchline.
- There's a joke that exists in various forms about a man with "Shorty" tattooed on his penis. Eventually a woman goes to bed with him and emerges pleased and exhausted. Her friends ask what was so great about sex with "Shorty," and she reports that the tattoo actually says "Shorty's Pizza Parlor." (Beat) "Established 1990." (beat) "Eat In, Take Out, or Delivery." (beat) "Albequerque, New Mexico 47101..."
- Common in Nextwave.
Aaron Stack: Ah, yes. Many was the night I'd sneak in here to steal his beer. Until I found out he made the beer himself. And what he made it out of. I thought "Lizard Squeezings" was a brewery name.
- Blanche in The Golden Girls:
I can't sell my car to you; you're a friend. My great granddad always said there's two things you never sell to a friend: a car, and a slave. Because if either one stops working you'll never hear the end of it. 'Course, they hanged my great-granddad. He said a lot of things he shouldn't have.
- Bette Midler in Bette when she takes a job as a waitress:
I got some very nice feedback. Even a love letter! It was very sweet. Kind of dirty, though. [holds up letter in sandwich bag] I'm sending it to the police, actually.
- Phoebe in Friends:
Zesty Guy: I'm sorry, but that's who I am! I'm a positive person!
Phoebe: No, I'm a positive person. You are like Santa on Prozac! At Disneyland! Getting laid!
- Outnumbered, "The Dinner Party":
Pete: I remember at school, that the bullying stopped when I showed them that I just wasn't frightened of them. And when that new boy started. Boy with a stutter. Peter the Repeater, they called him. Well, Paracetamol Pete after the suicide attempt.
- Andy Parsons on Mock the Week:
She said she is Radio 2 to Gordon Brown's Radio 4. And you're thinking, well, she's not Radio 2. Radio 2 is the most popular radio station in this country. If she's anything, she's Isle of Wight FM. On a Sunday morning. At 3 o'clock. In January. When the transmission mast is broken.
- Greg Davies about his grandmother, who (allegedly) applied night cream each night for decades to keep complexion young:
You've spent all that time and all that money, Gran, and your face is no better than Granddad's. And he's dead. He died in the war. He got shot in the face. With a cannon.
- Will and Grace, "Leo Unwrapped":
Grace: No! You know I have to be surprised. Remember two years ago how upset I got when you left your present out for me to find?
Will: "Left it out"?! It was hidden in a storage locker in Queens. That I rented under an assumed name. You bit through a combination lock!
- The bawdy English folk song "A Long Strong Black Pudding has elements of this.
- Rapper Canibus used to love this. Example "Mic-Nificent": "My rhymes confuse niggas like somebody trying to gangbang / Wearing a blue shirt, and red pants / Throwing up signs with the left hand / Standing out in the corner of wetlands / With a confederate flag for a headband"
- Christopher Titus, telling a story about his dad waking him up one morning.
"How about you tell me why the car is parked at such an odd angle. On the porch. Across the street."
- Jeff Dunham has this with his puppet Walter when describing the ease of obtaining condoms.
Walter: When I was young I had to walk five miles to get a condom. Uphill! In the snow! With a boner!
- This Shortpacked comic has three punchlines, each increasingly funny. Shortpacked! does this a lot, actually.
- Nedroid sets it up, and the Alt Text knocks it down, like so.
- Also, about how much the concept of Monsters seems to be almost tailor-made to his taste:
It's like a Reese's Cup. Inside a blueberry pie. With Cool Whip. Served to me by Anne Hathaway. On a speedboat. In the Mushroom Kingdom. On Christmas.
Yahtzee: At this point, I'd only consider buying the full version of The Darkness if it came down to budget price. And they threw in another, better game. And some cake. And Belgium.
- Also, the Too Human review:
You're left with a gaming experience that could be recreated by walking down a wide road in the middle of nowhere stopping every five seconds to crack yourself in the eye with a hammer (beat) and the road is a million miles long (beat) and the hammer is made of wank.
- And his Resident Evil 5 one.
Imagine you see a guy slamming his hands against a wall until they bleed and he has to go to the hospital. Than he comes back from hospital to do it even more. On your bill. And it's your wall.
- Done on Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email "strong badathlon", where one of the events in the titular -Athlon is "the Clean and Jerk... Strong Mad's Underwears... Over His Head. Fortunately, you don't really have to clean them."
- Used in episode 39 of Red vs. Blue, combined with Metaphorgotten:
Caboose: I know where you can find O'Malley. He lived inside my helmet for a while, maybe he left an address to send his mail. We were like roommates!
Sarge:Sounds like he took some of the furniture when he left. And the carpet. And the drapes. And I wouldn't expect to get that deposit back, if you know what I mean.
- Commentary on the DVD reveals a lot of Sarge's ad-libs went on like this.
Dante: Caitlyn has a kissing booth? Like, for charity?
Jay: Yeah, only it don't cost nothin' and it's not for charity.
(leaves and comes back)
Jay: And there's no booth.
(leaves and comes back)
Jay: And it's more than just kissing.
(leaves and comes back)
Jay: And you don't have to be a guy.
Jay: Dude, she's cheating on you.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "My So-called Wife", Mr. Herriman greets the eccentric benefactor who's looking to donate to the home, and the benefactor says "Please, call me Benjamin! ...Edward... Factor... the Third... Esquire... DDS!"
- The Ruby Gloom episode "Lucky Me" has the gang helping Skull Boy looking for his lucky charm. When asked what it is:
Skull Boy: A horseshoe.
Poe: Well that shouldn't be hard to spot.
Skull Boy: A seahorse horseshoe.
Skull Boy: For a baby seahorse.
Skull Boy: A baby miniature seahorse.