Are you looking for different types of humor to add a little wow! to your writing?
Do you need some pizazz for your prose?
Humor can be a great strategy to grab and hook your reader’s attention while adding a little flair to your writing project.
It also builds camaraderie between groups of people, bridges cultural differences, and adds light and laughter to difficult circumstances.
Plus, it’s just fun when you can laugh at the comedy of everyday life.
We’re going to show you different styles and examples of humor you can add to your work to spice up your writing.
Here’s what you need to know about humor.
What is Humor?
Humor, or humour if you’re across the pond, is any form of communication intended to evoke laughter and provide amusement. The message may be delivered through various literary devices like irony, tragicomedy, or through other kinds of verbal or nonverbal actions.
Humor is one of the most important tools writers have in their arsenal, as it adds flavor and zest to any writing project. The type of humor that’s used depends on the writer’s voice, audience, and genre.
26 Types of Humor (+28 Hilarious Examples)
Humor comes in many varieties and is very subjective. What one person finds wildly funny, another finds offensive or inappropriate.
Here are 26 types of humor you can use in any writing situation.
1. Physical/Slapstick Humor
Physical humor relates to scenarios or characters who use exaggerated effects for maximum impact. Think absurd body movements, exaggerated crying or laughter, and mock bodily harm.
And let’s not forget all the boinks, bonks, boops, and other onomatopoeia examples that characterize slapstick comedy.
Want an example?
Then look no further than the Three Stooges, the undisputed sultans of slapstick:
2. Deadpan/Dry Humor
Deadpan or dry humor is delivered with a straight face and a neutral tone.
Some people find dry humor more enjoyable than the usual jokes and comedy routines because dry humor often requires more thought and perception.
The Office’s Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell, is a master of deadpan humor. One of my favorites is his thoughts about Wikipedia:
Wordplay relies on the dual meanings of words and phrases to create a humorous effect.
Some examples of wordplay are double entendres, puns, cheeky metaphors, and pickup lines.
Are you ready for an example? Try not to roll your eyes too hard.
“Are you a parking ticket? ‘Cause you’ve got fine written all over you.”
4. Toilet Humor
Also called body bathroom, toilet humor provides an easy subject for jokes. Fart jokes in particular are a favorite of young boys.
The children’s book series Captain Underpants uses a lot of toilet humor to entertain its target audience.
Check out the “Fart Song” here:
5. Witty Humor
Witty humor is often dry and clever and relies on the intellectual engagement of the listener or reader.
A famous example of wit involves Winston Churchill. As the story goes, Churchill crossed paths with a woman one night at a dinner party. Being of different political affiliations, and no love lost between them, the woman haughtily tells Churchill he is “disgustingly drunk.” Without missing a beat, Churchill responds:
“My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.”
6. Satirical Humor
Satire is a type of humor that pokes fun at human vices and flaws. It typically isn’t laugh-out-loud funny but reflects more of a dry wit. Users often use satirical humor to draw attention to current events or political issues.
During an interview with The Paris Review, writer Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.”
7. Dark Humor
Dark humor can be defined as any joke that makes light of a tragic event or subject matter.
It’s often used as a coping mechanism.
Some people believe the idea of finding comedy in pain and sadness to be cathartic, while others are put off by what they see as a cheap way of getting laughs.
When former President Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981, he said to the surgeons in the operating room, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.”
He also told his daughter Maureen, the attempted assassination “ruined one of my best suits.”
8. Cringe Humor
We have all experienced cringe moments in our lives, which is why this type of humor works so well in storytelling.
Cringe humor always occurs in social situations and involves moments like tripping in front of an audience or sending your boss a racy text meant for your spouse.
Ben Stiller had many cringe humor moments in the hit movie, Meet The Fockers. This dinner scene is an excellent example of the writers using cringe humor during a meal with the future in-laws:
9. Ironic Humor
Ironic humor relies on a sharp contrast between the actual meaning and what is being said.
A real-life example of ironic humor is Emerson Moser. The former senior crayon maker for Crayola who made over 1.4 billion crayons, was color blind.
10. Observation Humor
Observation humor is comedy based on the commentary of everyday life. It can be found in both stand-up and sketch comedy and is often used to subtly criticize the world around us.
To see observational comedy in action, watch Jerry Seinfeld’s bit about the donut hole:
11. Topical Humor
Topical humor is related to current events or trends that are happening in the world. You often see it on late-night talk shows that use political satire to entertain their audience.
Shaun Eli is a stand-up comedian living in New York City who has written many monologues for late-night television shows. You can see some of his unused work, all based on topical humor, at brainchampagne.com
Here’s one example of a joke he wrote in March 2020:
“I used to meet women in the summer by saying ‘Hi, I have central air conditioning.’”
Now it’s ‘I have two liters of Purell.’”
12. Self Enhancing Humor
Some people use the power of laughter to improve their happiness and well-being during difficult times. That’s self enhancing humor. It can help you maintain perspective, reduce stress, or be a coping strategy to maintain mental health during hard times.
As Kurt Vonnegut said:
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
An example of self-enhancing humor would be, “I may have failed the driving test, but I didn’t run anyone over.”
13. Self Deprecating Humor
The term self deprecating literally means “to degrade oneself.” It’s often used as an icebreaker because it shows you don’t take yourself too seriously.
In response to rumors that his father was buying votes, John F. Kennedy used self deprecating humor to deflect. In a speech at the 1958 Gridiron dinner, he said:
“I just received the following wire from my generous daddy: ‘Dear Jack, don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.’”
14. Highbrow Humor
Highbrow humor is a humor style revolving around jokes about topics like classical literature, history, and politics. It usually requires a certain level of education or knowledge to understand.
Joshua Hehe wrote an article sharing some of his favorite highbrow humor. One example is:
“Do you know the name Pavlov?
It rings a bell.”
15. Lowbrow Humor
Lowbrow humor is often crude, profane, and offensive.
It’s tempting to think that lowbrow humor is just for people with no talent or intelligence.
However, it actually requires a lot of creativity and wit to write jokes that are offensive or tasteless but still funny. That’s why even some of the best comedians will use lowbrow humor in their acts from time to time.
Movies like American Pie or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are full of lowbrow humor.
You can also find examples in sitcoms like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
16. Surreal/Absurd Humor
Surreal humor contains elements of surrealism, absurdity, or non sequitur. The humor comes from replacing logic with illogical thoughts, leading to jokes which are humorous because they are either ridiculous or unexpected.
An example of surreal humor is this old joke:
“Why did the elephant sit on the marshmallow?
He didn’t want to fall into the cup of hot chocolate.”
17. One-Liner Humor
One-liner humor is wit that is short, concise, and just one sentence or phrase.
It’s all about having the perfect setup so you can deliver the powerful words in the punchline with maximum impact.
Want an example of a one-liner?
“Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.”
18. Anecdotal Humor
Anecdotal humor recalls an event from the past. This event is usually light-hearted and humorous. Anecdotal humor can communicate a message, emphasize a point, or entertain people with an interesting story.
In My Best Friend’s Wedding, Julianne (Julia Roberts) tells an anecdote during a wedding toast about having a dream where “a psycho” was trying to break up the bride and groom.
To the wedding guests, the story sounded like a harmless and amusing anecdote, but it really conveyed an apology from Julianne to the groom for her role in trying to split up the happy couple.
19. Hyperbolic Humor
Hyperbolic humor is a technique that exaggerates a person’s emotional state in a humorous way.
William Shakespeare was a master of hyperbolic humor. For example, in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice tells Benedick, ”…I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.” This is her way of showing how little she thinks of love.
20. Burlesque Humor
The word burlesque comes from the Italian word burlesco, meaning to ridicule.
Burlesque humor is satirical and relies on exaggeration for its comic effect. It’s usually characterized by a parody of serious subjects and often borders on being offensive.
The 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a burlesque adaptation of Homer’s Odysseus. The hero on a quest meets exaggerated characters and over-the-top obstacles.
Check out a clip here:
21. Farcical Humor
A farce is a type of comedy where the plot includes improbable coincidences and heavy exaggeration. And the dialogue is often ridiculous.
The entire story is so outlandishly absurd, audiences can’t help but laugh at it.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a movie filled with farcical humor and the squirrel scene might be the best.
22. Epigrammatic Humor
Epigrammatic humor uses paradox and irony to make satirical or thought-provoking statements. An example of epigrammatic humor would be:
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
Poor Richard’s Almanac is an excellent source of epigrammatic humor. How about this gem:
“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
23. Parodic Humor
Parodic humor mocks and imitates an original work or person, typically for comic effect.
Check out Libido Killer by Penn and Kim Holderness. It’s a parody of Michael Jackson’s Thriller:
24. Aggressive Humor
Aggressive humor is often used to bully or intimidate others by making them the butt of jokes. Perpetrators often attempt to pass off the jokes as teasing.
The Comedy Central celebrity roasts use a lot of aggressive humor.
25. Affiliative Humor
On the other hand, affiliative humor is positive, light-hearted, inclusive, and helps create a sense of cohesion with others.
For example, a harmless, inside joke amongst friends, or a witty comment at a office party that breaks any tension and promotes laughter.
26. Surprise & Incongruity
Surprise and incongruity are two of the most important devices for achieving laughter.
A surprise is an event we do not expect to happen. Its purpose is to make us react suddenly and unpredictably. Surprising things can be both good and bad, but they should always be unexpected.
Incongruity is when something doesn’t belong with its surroundings or when it’s inconsistent with what we know about reality. The key word here is inconsistency. If something surprises us, it’s different from what we expect, but if something surprises us and also seems wrong, then it’s also incongruous.
For our last examples, let us turn to the hit tv sitcom, Friends. The writers always knew how to keep viewers coming back for more.
The biggest surprise might have been the season 4 finale when the writers revealed a secret hookup between Monica and Chandler:
For incongruity, Phoebe’s hit song, Smelly Cat, comes to mind. After all, as offbeat as Phoebe was, who writes a song about a smelly cat?
Are You Ready to Experiment With Different Types of Humor?
Humor will lead to a whole new dimension in your writing.
Even if you’ve never used humor before, with our list of the different types of humor and the examples we included, you’re ready to add some comedy to your writing repertoire.
Now it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into action.
Which style of humor will you try first?