Dying is easy, so the story goes, but comedy is hard. Sometimes, it’s possible to land that perfect punchline that keeps an audience guffawing, however, and even spawns an entire legion of spin-off jokes that make a show succeed. What have been some of the funniest running jokes that comedies have used to keep us laughing?
1) The Slap Bet, How I Met Your Mother
Proving once again that physical comedy always wins out over a well-crafted pun, How I Met Your Mother gives audiences the perverse pleasure of watching a grown man be hit as hard as possible…five different times. The Slap Bet began when the gang found out about Robin’s hidden past as a Canadian pop star; upon losing the bet, Barney had to be subject to five brutal slaps to the face by Marshall — who has abnormally large hands to begin with.
Each slap became a mini-legend within the show, receiving its own special treatment, some even having an entire episode planned around the strike. Other times, Lily acted as Slap-Bet Commissioner to shut down her husband’s attempts to enact corporal punishment upon Barney.
Most memorably, Marshall set up a countdown for a slap that played havoc with Barney’s psyche, with the build-up to the slap causing more anguish than the actual slap itself, set to be delivered on Thanksgiving Day.
No matter what the circumstances, audiences eagerly awaited the next iteration of the Slap Bet and the look on Barney’s face after it happened.