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Title: Switcheroo  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sociolinguistics, List of The Dreamstone episodes, Comedic device, Jokes
Collection: Discourse Analysis, Forms of English, Jokes, Language Varieties and Styles, Sociolinguistics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A switcheroo is a sudden unexpected variation or reversal[1] that is often associated with a joke (sometimes "the old switcheroo").[2] It is colloquially used in reference to an act of intentionally or unintentionally swapping two objects.[3]

As a comedic device, this was a favorite of Woody Allen; for a time, he used so many switcheroos that friends referred to him as "Allen Woody."[2] Some of Allen's switcheroo gags were:

  • Carrying a sword on the street, in case of an attack it turned into a cane, so people would feel sorry for him
  • Carrying a bullet in his breast pocket; he claimed someone once threw a Bible at him and the bullet saved his life.

Another example comes from the film The Aristocrats, wherein Wendy Liebman pulls "the old switcheroo". Whereas the joke normally is narrated as a vulgar series of actions followed by the clean punch line, Liebman narrates a very aristocratic series of actions followed by a very vulgar punch line.[4][5]

In his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter names one of the rules in his version of Propositional calculus the Switcheroo Rule, apparently in honour of an Albanian railroad engineer, name Q.q.Switcheroo, who "worked in logic on the siding".[6] This is in reality the disjunctive syllogism.

One of the most famous examples of a switcheroo is the feud between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Daffy often tries to find ways of getting Elmer Fudd to shoot Bugs, but Bugs will somehow change the situation that ends with Daffy getting shot.

Bugs: It's true, Doc. I'm a rabbit, alright. Would you like to shoot me now or wait 'til you get home?
Daffy: Shoot him now!!!! Shoot him now!!!!
Bugs: You keep outta this! He doesn't have to shoot you now!
Daffy: He does so have to shoot me now! (to Elmer) I demand that you shoot me now!

See also


  1. ^ executive editor, Anne H. Soukhanov (1992). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Third ed.).  
  2. ^ a b Kanfer, Vedi S. (1972-07-03). "Woody Allen: Rabbit Running". Time Magazine: p. 25. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  3. ^ "Obama's trade-deal switcheroo". Post and Courier. May 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  4. ^ Provenza, Paul (2005). The Aristocrats. Mighty Cheese Productions. IMDB tt0436078. 
  5. ^ "Video of Wendy Liebman's "Aristocrats" contribution". 
  6. ^ Hofstadter, Douglas R. (1979). Gödel, Escher, Bach. Basic Books. p. 187. 

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