a shaggy-dog story

shaggy dog story

A long-winded anecdote that has a silly or anticlimactic ending. The old man was known for telling shaggy dog stories that made people groan and scratch their heads when he reached the ending.
See also: dog, shaggy, story

a shaggy-dog story

a long, rambling story or joke, especially one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless.
The expression, dating back to the 1940s, comes from the subject of one such anecdote, a dog with shaggy hair.
1993 New York Times Book Review The book has the unhurried pace of the best of the shaggy dog stories; the pleasure is all in the journey rather than the destination.
See also: story

a ˌshaggy-ˈdog story

(informal) a long, complicated story or joke, which has no proper ending and is not very funny: He told us this joke, which turned out to be a shaggy-dog story, and I hate those!This expression comes from the subject of one particular story of this kind, a dog with long, untidy (shaggy) hair.
See also: story
References in periodicals archive ?
Whenever I've seen him outside of movies he was doing smart-ass impressions of an oboe or telling a shaggy-dog story in a weird accent, which made me view him as an upmarket Goon.
Yes, ``Warm Water'' is a shaggy-dog story, but one with a real heart beating beneath the sniggering.
Scarcely more substantial than a shaggy-dog story with a pleasingly ironic payoff, "The Opportunists" is too slight to score in theatrical release, though it could attract an audience on homevid and cable.
One is tempted to label Molosse a shaggy-dog story in faux Creole; Jack London's dog stories, "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and even Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea" resonate in the intextual interstices.