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Humor is an act, statement, or other form of communication that is ludicrous or absurdly incongruous.

Everyone finds differing things funny; no two people can agree on exactly what makes something funny.

There are many kinds of humor. There are jokes, which can be further broken down by kind of joke (knock-knock, one-liner, etc.); physical humor (slapstick, spit-takes); puns, limericks, and Spoonerisms; irony; and others.


A joke can be elaborate or simple. The simplest jokes consist of the "setup", usually a question, followed by the answer or "punchline". The punchline may be a pun, or it may not bear too much relation to the setup. A perfect example of this is the following joke:

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get to the other side!

This most likely does not strike you as funny (five-year-olds seem to respond best to this one), because the punchline does not seem to have too much to do with the setup. Consider, however, the progression of this joke:

Q: Why did the hippopotomus cross the road?
A: Because it was glued to the chicken!

You can continue in this vein until you're sick of the whole thing or your audience needs a nap, whichever comes first.

Also in the simple-joke category are knock-knock jokes. These usually consist of five lines and involve a Pun. An oldie but goodie goes like this:

Person 1: Knock-knock.
Person 2: Who's there?
1: Annapolis.
2: Annapolis who?
1: Annapolis a fruit!

Then there is the infamous Banana Knock-Knock Joke:

Person 1: Knock-knock.
Person 2: Who's there?
1: Banana.
2: Banana who?
1: Knock-knock
2: Who's there?
1: Banana.
2: Banana who?
1: Knock-knock
2: Who's there?
1: Banana.
2: Banana who?
1: Knock-knock
2: Who's there?
1: Banana.
2: Banana who?
1: Knock-knock
2: Who's there?
1: Orange.
2: Orange who?
1: Orange you glad I didn't say 'banana'?

It is recommended that you only tell this joke once or twice in your life (and never tell it to the same person twice, unless they have very very short memories.)

Physical Humor

Physical humour is humour that stems from things happening to a person and is commonly called slapstick. The most common example of physical humour the nearly-ubiquitous Object Hitting Man In Crotch. Other common examples include but are not limited to Spilling Food Or Beverage On Person, Small Dog Clinging To Toy While Being Lifted Into The Air, and the classic Slipping On Stuff.

A well known example of slapstick humor is the Three Stooges, which consists of many physical gags.

Puns, Limericks, And Spoonerisms

Puns are plays on words, normally involving homonyms or similar-sounding phrases. "Annapolis a fruit!" is a perfect example of a pun.

A limerick is a short poem consisting of five lines of varying length. Generally speaking, the last line of the limerick should reprise the first part of the limerick. Most limericks are ribald in nature, but there are plenty of perfectly tame limericks.

An example:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
he had a daughter named Nan
who ran off with a man
and as for the bucket, Nan took it.

A Spoonerism is created by swapping the first letters or sounds of two words, named after Rev. William Archibald Spooner, Warden of New College, Oxford, who had this unfortunate and often hilarious habit.

An example of a Spoonerism:

A teacher, speaking to a student, says, "you've tasted two worms!" instead of 'you've wasted two terms!'.

Story Jokes

A story joke is a relatively long joke with a punchline at the end. Many people prefer this variety of joke over other types.

An example of a story joke:

A little girl went into a nursing home to see her grandma.

The grandma was sleeping.

Being bored, and having nothing else to do, the little girl began to look around the room.

She saw a bowl of peanuts.

She got off of her chair, and walked over to them.

They looked delicious.

She took one.

She ate it.

She took another one.

She ate that one, too.

And another.

And another.

When the peanuts were almost gone, the girl's grandma began to wake up.

Suddenly feeling guilty for eating her grandma's peanuts, the little girl walked up to the grandma and said,

"Grandma, do you eat these nuts?"

The grandma looked at the little girl, and smiled.

"Oh no, dear, I don't eat them. I just suck the chocolate off."

Irony and Sarcasm

Irony is when situations are the opposite that one would expect. There are many types of irony in literature, however in humor it is often the expression of one's meaning using language that would indicate the opposite.[1] For example, "as fun as watching paint dry."

Sarcasm, is typically mean-spirited irony, which uses tone to indicate that opposite is meant, rather than a ridiculous juxtaposition.[2] Sarcasm, for example, would involve someone who dislikes, say racing, and states that NASCAR is the pinnacle of sporting excellence.

In drama, humorous dramatic irony can occur when a character makes a statement, when the audience knows that the exact opposite is true. For example, remarking how relaxing an empty room is when the audience has seen a character hiding moments before.


For a more detailed treatment, see Satire.

Satire is the use of sarcasm and Irony to mock or deride a subject.

Political Satire

See also: Leftism and humor

For a more detailed treatment, see Political Satire.

See also


  1. New Oxford American Dictionary
  2. New Oxford American Dictionary