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running joke

a joke or humorous allusion used recurrently in a play, film, television skit, etc., for a cumulative comic effect.
a subject, reference, remark, etc., that is a continual source of humor.
Also called running gag. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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running gag

noun phrase

A recurrent thematic pleasantry: which are actually just a running gag that allows Martin to stammer, stumble and mug appealingly (1980s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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