Great comedy, like good rap music, relies heavily on the "callback," which is a reference to a joke or situation occurring earlier in the bit. Rap music does this with samples or bits of familiar rhymes like "Ho-tel, mo-tel, holiday Inn." Comedians typically do it later in the bit with a reference to an earlier joke. Steve Martin was great at this, often doing callbacks to some of his oldest bits with a simple reference evoking a huge laugh. Arrested Development inverted this formula by placing the callbacks before the joke was told, so you'd only get it upon viewing the show again ("Arm off" and "I never thought I'd miss a hand so much.") It's a statement on our DVD/Hulu era of viewing television comedy. Commenter Nick executed this perfectly in a reference to the billboard wars in today's tankflip post.
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