The “Chase” of Hercules, and The “Pie” of John Cena by Jessy Stanley

The film Hercules (1997) plays very well with Donald Crafton’s paper “Pie and Chase: Gag, Spectacle and Narrative in Slapstick comedy”. Though Hercules isn’t a slapstick Comedy it replicates the chase/pie relationship Crafton denotes to Slapstick. The chase is the film’s narrative of Hercules quest for Godhood and love, which keeps getting interrupted by Hercules (Tate Donovan) singing about his feelings, or his mentor, Phil (Danny Devito), having an intended comic moments. These interruptions serve as the pie, but in the end it always returns to the chase.

But I’m not interested in the movie. I’m interested in this: “Best Disney scene of all time (HERCULES)” Similar to the movie, the video follows the chase/pie relationship, with two difference; the pie isn’t from the movie and the chase is inverted to lead to the pie. The pie in this case is the unexpected John Cena meme that became widely popular in 2015. The meme is a combination of the John Cena’s WWE Introduction video and voice over from a prank call that was posted to Youtube [1]. The meme gained popularity due to its unpredictability. As Rob King notes that film “Contains the permanent potential for the unexpectedly comic moments” [2].  The intention of the video is to reel the viewer in with the chase of the films narrative and release the tension with the unexpected visual gag that isn’t from the movie but fits in a singular context creating a comic effect. In addition, unlike the slapstick comedies of the 1920’s after the gag there is no narrative closure. It does not return to Hercules. Instead we are left with John Cena intro video. This dynamic of no return inverts the common structure of the chase/pie relationship making the chase the build up for the pie turning the entire video into one giant gag. The Video showcases how today’s memes can turn the head on already established content and change the expected into a comic moment through unpredictability.





[1] QuazzleTheQaz. “Unexpected John Cena/ And His Name Is John Cena”. Know Your Meme. Edited by Brad Kim. Last modified 2 months ago.

[2] Rob King “Laughter in an Ungoverned Sphere: Actuality Humour in Early Cinema and Web 2.0” in New Silent Cinema, ed. Flaig & Groo (New York: Routledge, 2015), p. 300.

One comment

  1. While on the whole I agree with your analysis of the YouTube video itself, I think to call “Hercules” a chase/pie comedy oversimplifies many of the comedic and narrative elements in the movie. However, I also agree that this particular instance is a great example of a piece of content in which the entire thing is meant to be the gag.

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