Terry Pratchett’s Funniest Recurring Gags

I am a big fan of Pratchett's Discworld, for both its creative use of fantasy tropes, and its strong themes of morality. But none of that would matter if it wasn't so damn funny.

The characters are hilarious, and the plots are even better, but there are also some recurring side-gags that I enjoy. These occur across multiple books, and just sort of pop up from time to time. So here are some of my favorites:

1) "Don't let me detain you" - These are usually the last words from Vetinari, the leader of the city, after meeting a character in his office. He's an intimidating man, and although the phrase seems polite at first, it is actually a warning. "Don't let me detain you" could also mean: Remember, I have a dungeon.

2) The Crocodile Sausage - One of the Small Gods in Discworld is a crocodile. And at his temple, people sacrifice sausages, under the close eye of the temple priests. But, being a god, the Great Crocodile cannot actually eat the sausage, so the sausage must be burned as an offering. And another way to burn an offering is to just cook the sausage. And, with all that cooked sausage around, it's no wonder the temple priests occasionally eat them. The sausage is just an empty shell, they explain, and the true spirit of the sausage has made it to the Great Crocodile. Pratchett's take on organized religion. Seems about right.

 


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3) DEATH SPEAKS IN CAPS - The grim reaper or DEATH appears in many books, and is the main character in a few more. A a side-gag, he  will show up unexpectedly, say a few ironic lines in all-CAPS, and then steal the show (and someone's soul).

4) Annoya, Goddess of Kitchen Drawers - For whatever reason, I think of this joke each time I am searching for the whisk or the garlic press or the watermelon slicer (so 2 times/year max). The kitchen drawer will either get stuck on its runners or some metal doodad I have never seen before and can't imagine how to use, will jab into the drawer above. Kitchen-drawer surgery is thus enacted, and after 6 minutes minutes I think: Ah-ha! Bless you Goddess Annoya.

5) CMOT-Dibbler's Sausages and Fine Meat Pies: Have you ever eaten food from a street vendor and about halfway through, you think "Wait? What was that crunchy bit I just swallowed?" That crunchy bit is the work of CMOT-Dibbler, a horrible businessman but excellent sausage salesman. He may be in every book, (well almost), and his disgusting, yet strangely alluring meat pies live forever in the intestines of all visitors to Discworld.

6) Spoon in the Dungeon - I don't want to give away the joke, so I'll just say that it is a very cruel joke to play on prisoners. But it does keep them busy. The spoon occurs in the opening scene of Going Postal (my favorite audio book, read by Briggs) and is alluded to in other books as well. What can I say? Vetinari  was a very smart man.

So, if you haven't stepped into the Discworld, I'll be suggesting a few books for you to read in future posts. You don't need to start at the beginning (and probably shouldn't, since the books get better with time). But you should give it a try. And the audio books (read by Steven Briggs) are certainly the best way to start.

Now, don't let me detain you! Eric

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