Cringe comedy is a form of comedy that arises from severe social awkwardness.
Cringe comedy is often described as a "painful" form of comedy that people have a love-hate relationship with, usually possessing a maximum amount of tolerance toward before having to physically remove themselves from the medium in question.
The humor comes from fictional (or occasionally non-fictional) characters behaving in socially uncomfortable ways. The viewer or listener experiences "vicarious embarrassment" on their behalf.
The character in question tends to fall into one of two types:
- Socially oblivious, such as Michael Scott from The Office
- Socially competent but awkward and blunt, such as Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld
For most of the early episodes, cringe comedy was a bread-and-butter staple of Joe's repertoire. He would often start screaming loudly for no reason, do exaggerated and ear-piercing voices, ask extremely awkward questions, and so on. Joe would later describe this behavior as that of a "bumbling idiot".
Lars usually expressed strong discomfort during these moments, and would later privately discourage them. Over time, Joe's character evened out and became more of a "doofus softie".