There was a time when meta humor was considered the mark of a smart comedy. If a writer was able to successfully poke fun at the idea of making a joke, thereby adding a second layer to an already existing joke, savvy audiences felt like they being welcomed into a special club. They were the ones who really “got it.” These days, however, meta comedy is basically par for the course. The newest video from Cult Popture details the recent meteoric rise of meta humor, which can be found in abundance in everything from big blockbuster comedies to dank Twitter memes.

Comparing mid-2000s fare like the Ice Age franchise or the first Iron Man with more recent films like the Lego Movie or Deadpool makes it easy to see the cultural shift towards the meta. Characters in the latter films seem hyper-aware of not only the fact that they’re in a movie but a very specific kind of movie that has specific expectations around it. This awareness allows them to undercut said expectations to an almost incessant degree. You can see a similar trajectory in internet humor, wherein a new meme will go from funny to meta to so meta you don’t even understand what it’s referencing anymore in a matter of days.

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As Cult Popture notes, the prevalence of meta humor these days doesn’t mean that the current generation of creatives is necessarily smarter. But they probably think they’re smarter. So much of meta comedy is about looking back at the established idea of what’s funny and subverting it, disrupting it, and making fun of it. But, as with all things, we’re sure this trend will cycle back around and, by 2023, incredibly sincere comedy will be the new biggest thing.

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