That little thing hanging in the back of your throat does more than give animated cartoonists an easy sight gag.
Perhaps under the circumstances “gag” isn’t the best word, because that little hanging thing is actually there to keep people from gagging.
It’s called the uvula and it helps guide food and liquid down the throat and away from the windpipe and nasal passages.
The uvula’s muscles also lift the roof of the mouth, again reducing the chance of choking.
Unless, of course, you’re laughing at the aforementioned cartoons, then even your uvula can’t help you.