Fighters are known to use war-cries, taunts, gestures and postures before engaging their enemy in order to increase their own adrenaline or to intimidate the enemy or throw off their concentration.

A Chinese emperor once conscripted criminal prisoners to approach the enemy and then commit suicide in order to mortify the enemy.

Is there any historic account of trying to make the enemy laugh as a diversion tactic?


Technically, yes, if you consider the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth:

(Emphasis added)

Although he had never starred in the play himself, Booth knew the play by heart, and thus waited for the precise moment when actor Harry Hawk (playing the lead role of the "cousin", Asa Trenchard), would be on stage alone to speak what was considered the funniest line of the play. Booth hoped to employ the enthusiastic response of the audience to muffle the sound of his gunshot. With the stage to himself, Asa (Hawk) responded to the recently departed Mrs. Mountchessington, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!" Hysterical laughter began permeating the theatre. Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot

From the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Wikipedia page.

  • 1
    Assassination is not a combat tactic. – MCW Feb 17 '17 at 23:32
  • 1
    His last statement for the question was "Is there any historic account of trying to make the enemy laugh as a diversion tactic?" Waiting until an audience was in the thrall of intense laugher in order to murder a president certainly fits the requirement of the phrase "diversion tactic." – tmp Feb 18 '17 at 16:18

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