"groaners" in literature

“groaners” here refers to either lines, or scenes, or otherwise elements of a book that you did just that. As in when someone tells you a bad joke, that you thought was funny, but because it was so bad/silly. Basically, something that was thrown in just cause, doesnt ruin the book for you but you just have to shake your head at.

Ok, so Im reading a perfectly normal sci fi book, not too intellectual, but not crap either just good fun.
Conversation between two space marines in the middle of a drop into a planet.
The one guy is bragging about how he served in sixth fleet, to which his friend expresses his disbelief.
The other replies… (and keep in mind that up to this point, it was a totally normal and so far enjoyable book)…

I had to actually go back and re read the line, just in case I was imagining it.

Give up some of your examples of “groaners” that you’ve encountered. Either in jokes refering to other works, pop culture, etc.

Ever hear of feghoots?

The name comes from Grendel Briarton’s ongoing series, “Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot.” That pun you cited is similar, though a feghoot is a story written to show off a line like that. Your example wouldn’t even come close to the originals, like “The furry with the syringe on top.”

Isaac Asimov wrote some great feghoots himself, like “Death of a Foy” and “Shah Guido G.”

Roger Zelazny did once use “Then the fit hit the shan” in one of his novels.

In Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites, there’s a scene where he writes something like (I’m not quoting exactly):

“Granny Weatherwax found an apartment next door to a well-respected dealer in stolen property, because she’d heard that good fences make good neighbors.”

Ferdinand Feghoot was da BOMB!. My favorite was when the natives on some planet wanted their shaman to choose a national anthem for them by scrying the entrails of the finest eel they could pull out of the river. Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm, they jostled the eel-bearers, causing the eel to fall back into the river, and allowing its escape.

The happy ending was that Ferdinand Feghoot gave them their national anthem: Le Marseillaise. After all, an unruly mob brought about the fall of the best eel.


In Still Live with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, there’s a red-headed character who dyes his hair because he’s on the run from the law. And there’s this whole long digression about how this one time he was wearing some sorta fancy pair of shoes when he dyed his hair, and he got hair dye on them, and they were utterly ruined, and he was devastated, and it goes on and on and on . . . And it’s all a setup for this:

From then on, he dyed with his boots on.

I had to put the book down and walk away for a while to regain my composure. I’m still not sure if it’s funny, or just annoying.

Not a “joke” groaner, but more of a “I can’t believe you just wrote that crap” groaner:

I have a collection of horror/sci-fi tales from the pulp magazine days. The one thing these stories have in common is they were NOT published in the magazine “Weird Tales.”

Anyway, in one of the stories, the hero has been captured by the bad guys, who are werewolves from space (or another time, or something like that … I forget exactly which). And the hero is being questioned for some knowledge he has, and when he doesn’t answer the questions, one of the werewolves starts chewing on his ankle.

He begins to cooperate at that point, but soon starts trying to be evasive in his answers again. So the werewolf starts for his ankle again, and the hero screams:

“I’ll talk! I’ll talk! Just please don’t let her gnaw me again!”

Something about the word “gnaw” in there took me completely out of the story. That’s still one of the single-worst examples of dialogue I think I’ve ever seen.

Matthiew Reilly is a crap author who’s works both me and a family friend can’t help but enjoy. It’s terrible. As unoriginal and over the top as they may be, we like the action scenes, and the giant animals tearing soldiers of all nationalities, to bits. With having said this, one of his more recent books which I don’t believe ever made it to paperback, Scarecrow, is one big long groaner. There were moments while reading it where I was convinced that if Barnes and Nobles had a fireplace, I would have pitched it in. The only line I can remember to demonstrate just how gow awfull it was is this:

Soldier to evil billionaire: Nice car collection.
Evil Billionaire: Toys. Mere toys.

And that’s just a water molecule on top of the iceberg.

My favourite variant on this is from Magic: The Gathering, from the “Living Wall” card: “Good neighbours make good walls.”

One I just learned a really old one from my Romantics class is in Byron’s Don Juan. Byron was angry at many of his fellow poets for betraying their radical principles and becoming monarchists. He compared them to James Pye, poet laureate and royal ass-kisser:

A nest of tuneful persons, to my eye
Like 'four and twenty blackbirds in a pye,

‘Which pye opened, they began to sing’
(This old song and new simile holds good)
‘A dainty dish to set before the king.’

Well, when Clan of the Cave Bear came out, my college roommate and I read the discussion of how the cave people thought babies came about. Apparently they didn’t connect sex with pregnancy. The line read something like this: “The idea that intercourse was linked to pregnancy was inconceivable” (italics mine).

We’re pretty sure it was not intended to be funny, given how badly-written we found the rest of the book. Still, it certainly made us groan!