Mark enjoys an evening with his girlfriend, eating burgers and fries at their favorite diner. They share a laugh. Mark bites into his double- meat and cheese. Just then, Lisa's mood goes somber before she announces, "I'm pregnant." Mark's reaction isn't a glamorous one ...
The Spit Take - a surprise reaction to shocking news or another cause while in the process of chewing food or drinking a beverage, which usually results in the character spewing the contents from their mouth.
This is not to be confused with The Double Take which, to my surprise, is a different trope altogether. For the most part, we see The Spit Take as a comical gag, portrayed as projectile spitting (which is somewhat of a cliché), but there are a few ways to implement this without being silly or overtly cartoony.
A character might be eating something really gross, but by the time their taste buds tell them otherwise, it might already be too late.
Better check the date on that milk, John ...
A character may also be distracted, enough that they forget they have something in their mouth when they try to flash a smile.
Smooth, Harry ...
People can do a Spit Take for any number of reasons, maybe from bursting out laughing or because a little juice went down the wrong tube, but the trick is using it in a fresh way so the audience doesn't see it coming. Those are the more effective takes. And if you've ever had milk (or some other beverage) go up your nose, that counts.
Have you used The Spit Take in your writing? What memorable spitting moments do you recall? Anyone up for a snowcone?
I'm David, and curse your tiny paper hat!