Meta, intertextual, self-referential humour…ugh.

But, let’s look at a few definitions, with a visual to help understand how this all 

When I tell you the set up to a joke, you hear ‘this’ but I then confound your expectations with something else i.e. ‘that’. 

For example, take the classic kids joke: 

“What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?”

It’s a simple process of ‘that’ not being what you expected.

Next up…

‘Meta’ means that something is above, beyond, or contained within (from the other perspective).

This gives the experience ‘depth’.

It could, for example, be that a joke has ‘eaten’ another joke, but to understand it you need to know the original one.

Intertextual connects one thing to another – but only at an informational level, it is more as a reference to something contained in ‘that’.
In other words, contained within ‘this’ is ‘that’ – like a reference of one TV show to another, but without making it explicit (think the start of the ‘A-Team’ when it references Battlestar Galactica).

Then we have ‘Self-referential’ – which means that the thing that connects to the other thing also loops back upon itself. This is the realm of paradox.


“There is nothing more conceited than quoting yourself.”

Martin Shervington

In this case, the first line is ‘this’ and the second is ‘that’.

Now, imagine what happens when you are using all such tools in writing – you are flickering between different aspects of the model, and the model is a ‘model of mind’.