From the first moment to the last of his life on screen, Screwy Squirrel knew he resided in a cartoon. And he loved demonstrating to the audience he knew that’s where he was.
Take his debut, for example. Screwy ponders what it is that he does to Meathead the dog next. He decides to find out by lifting the edge of the paper he’s on and looking ahead to the next scene.
Now that he knows what he’s supposed to do, Screwy puts the paper he’s on back in order, and runs over to the scene he’s supposed to be in.
But he doesn’t clobber Meathead with the bat first. We get the old “waiting for a street car” gag. The tram arrives inside a tree, Screwy boards it, and the Squirrel Hollow Special rolls away—only to quickly return so Screwy can wallop the dog.
Tex Avery brought the “we’re in a cartoon, folks” routine with him from Warner Bros. and always used it to great effect at MGM, whether it was the “Technicolor Ends Here” gag in “Lucky Ducky” or the narrator of “Who Killed Who” turning out to be the killer in the cartoon he’s narrating.