A spit-take is a comic technique or reaction in which someone spits a beverage out of their mouth when they react to a surprising statement. In this context, the word "take" is used in the sense of taking in information. It is similar in construction to the phrase "double-take."
Spit take made it into the Oxford Dictionary, not to be confused with the Oxford English Dictionary, in a 2014 update.
Albert Brooks' short film, The Famous Comedians School, features a workshop on spit takes.
Two characters sit at a table. Character #1 has a cup of coffee in hand.
Character 1: Did they ever find that missing toxic sludge?
Character 2: Yes...
(Character 1 sips coffee.)
Character 2: Someone poured it into the coffee urn.
(Character 1 spits the coffee all over the table.)
In a spit-take, the reaction is usually one of surprise. The "spit" action is overly dramatized; performers will add lots of noise and spray liquid from their mouth in an exaggerated fashion.
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