Also known as a running gag.

A good running gag should be a joke that was kind of funny the first time, but one that gets progressively worse as it's repeated. Eventually, you will achieve a break-point where the joke magically becomes funnier than the first instance when it was told. At this point, caution should be exercised, because the joke will rapidly deteriorate.

IMHO The Muppet Show used to have the best running gags.

Also a minor character in an episode of Animaniacs. Basically he was a short clown who would run onto the screen to the sound of a happy fanfare, then run off again. He did this several times throughout the show until the punch line, which went like this:

Enter clown
Exit clown
Dot: Who is that?
Wacko: Running joke
Sound of a discord indicating a deliberately bad joke.

It now occurs to me that he may in fact have been named Running Gag, not that it matters

rootbeer277 says re Running joke: The first season Darkwing Duck episode "Comic Book Capers" featured a pie-throwing indian named Little Running Gag.

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