Want to learn how to make jokes? This article teaches you how to get your friends and family rolling in the aisles.

Making someone laugh is one of the best feelings in the world. Laughter helps us connect with others, build rapport and trust, reduce stress, and overlook differences. It’s hard to be mad at someone you’re laughing with. If making people laugh is something you’ve always wished you could do, you’re in luck because being funny is something you can learn!   

Creating humor is about playing with words and their meanings, and the very careful placement of just the right word in just the right spot. To make someone laugh you need to think outside the box and end your thought in a surprising way. It’s twisting a thought in an unexpected direction to create a totally new, different, unexpected meaning. Check out our ten ways to create a funny line!

How to make Joke

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Create a Surprise Ending

All humor is based on surprise. It’s leading a thought one way then – snap – you flip it in a different direction. It’s the quick twist at the end that surprises us and makes us laugh. Here are examples of jokes that end in a way we’re not expecting:

  • My basketball team is good at dunking. Until we run out of cookies.
  • I used to finger paint in my pajamas. Now Mom says I have to do it on paper.
  • What do you call the soft tissue between a shark’s teeth? A slow swimmer.

Notice how the first half of these jokes seem to be talking about one thing and then veer off in a different direction. It’s the quick twist that catches us off guard and makes us laugh.

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Compare Random Things

Another technique is comparing things that don’t belong together. When we see a similarity between two totally different things, we’re surprised and we laugh. Here are examples:

  • There’s a spider in my room the size of a cheeseburger.
  • This Black Forest cake is awful. It tastes like there are chunks of actual forest in it.
  • I was really scared on the roller coaster, and trust me, I don’t scare easily. I’ve eaten the beans in the school cafeteria.

The first joke compares the size of a spider to a cheeseburger. The second compares the taste of cake to a forest. The third compares the feeling of being on a roller coaster to eating beans – all associations we probably weren’t expecting.

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Exaggerate to the Point of Ridiculousness

Another way to create humor is by exaggerating something to the point of ridiculousness. Stretch one of its features to call attention to that aspect of it, like this guy’s muscles above.

Here are examples that use exaggeration:

  • 30 days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31 except January, which has 6,852.
  • The beef in my burger is so rare, it’s starting to eat the lettuce.
  • Studying means 10 percent reading and 90 percent complaining to your friends that you have to study.
  • I’ve told you a million times to stop exaggerating.

When exaggerating, stretch the truth to the point that it’s funny, but not to where it’s totally outrageous and hard to imagine.

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Illustration by Pat Lewis

Use Original Details

Another way to create a funny line is to use very specific details. Describe something using fresh, unusual description so your listener feels, smells, hears or visualizes the person, place, or thing in a whole new light, like this girl who describes her hair as curling up like Cheetos – a very specific image above.

To create a funny line using original details, start with an ordinary sentence like “My shoes smell bad”. Then turn it into something funny by using off-center specifics. Brainstorm unusual smells, sounds, and feels and work the sentence like a puzzle. Keep trying different endings until you come up with something that works, like these:

  • My shoes smell like the bottom of an old lady’s purse.
  • My shoes smell like I scooped them out of the litter box.
  • My shoes smell like bug spray. The cheap kind.
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Be Literal When It’s Not Expected

Another technique is to be unexpectedly literal. Being literal is ignoring what someone means, and instead focusing on their exact words. This creates surprise because, again, it’s a response that’s not expected. Here are examples:

  • Person 1: The restaurant looks crowded. Do you think there are any seats?
    Person 2: All restaurants have seats.
  • I finally found love! It’s in the dictionary, page 293. Bottom left.
  • Person 1: This assignment is so hard. Our teacher really wants a pound of flesh.
    Person 2: I thought she wanted eight pages, double-spaced.
  • We have to buy my brother three socks at a time. He just grew another foot.

In all of these jokes, the meaning in the first part is ignored and the response focuses on the actual words.

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Illustration by Pat Lewis

Get Well-Known Facts Wrong

Another technique is to get well-known facts wrong in an obvious way. Twist simple facts into something different to create a new, off-center thought. The girl above read a recipe that said, When the cookies are done, chill in the fridge for an hour. Do you think she got the instructions wrong?

Here are examples of getting facts wrong:

  • There are three kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who can’t.
  • I don’t know why I need to go to school; I already know everything. School should clothes for good, totally shirt down.
  • I was surprised when my doctor told me I’m color-blind. That really came out of the orange.
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Break an Assumption

Set up a joke so your listener assumes some of the details, then break that assumption. In the joke below, the speaker lists the martial arts they know. We assume they’re experienced in practicing these arts, but that assumption is shattered when we realize they only know the names.

  • Don’t mess with me, I know karate, judo, jujitsu, kung fu — and 20 other dangerous words.

Here are other examples:

  • Since you’re eating healthy, I’ve removed all the junk food from the house. It was delicious.
  • Last night Grandpa was mad because he couldn’t figure out how to work his iPad, and his resident tech specialist was sleeping. My cousin’s five, and it was WAY past his bedtime.

In all of these jokes a key piece of information is missing. Most listeners will assume what you mean and then are surprised when you fill in the blank in an unexpected way.

8 Make Jokes

Twist Common Catchphrases

Start with a common saying, catchphrase, motto, or slogan and twist it into something new. For example, start with something like “That is so last year” and change it to “That is so 30 minutes ago” or “That is so back in kindergarten.” Here are examples of other twisted catchphrases:

  • Original: You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.
    Twizzled: You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get thrown out of a pet store.
  • Original: I’d walk across fire for you.
    Twizzled: I’d walk across Legos for you.
  • Original: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
    Twizzled: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him lip-synch.
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Refer to Famous People and Things

Refer to famous people, places, and things in an unusual way. This lets you associate your thought with something we all know and turn it into something new. Like if I say, “Sure thing, Einstein,” you know I mean, “Sure thing, smart guy.” Here are other examples:

  • Ew, that bologna is as green as Shrek.
  • This place is a mess. Who ate here—Wreck-It Ralph?
  • Important people, sit in the front. Everyone else, over there in Siberia.
  • You must be Google Maps, ’cause you’re everything I’m searching for.
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Create a Pun

Another great way to make someone laugh is to create a pun, which is a play on words. Puns play with words’ double meanings, similar sounds, spellings, or contrasts. In the examples below, the word in bold is the one that’s “played with”.

  • What did the alien say to the dandelion? Take me to your weeder.
  • What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta.
  • What do you call a number that can’t keep still? A roamin’ numeral.
  • Oh no! I swallowed my Scrabble game. My next trip to the bathroom could spell disaster.
Make Jokes

Conclusion How to make Jokes

Try out these techniques for yourself, practice them, and create your own jokes! These ten methods will surely help you sharpen your funny bone! Though these techniques are a great foundation to make jokes, to truly be funny, you need to be yourself. We’re funniest when we’re relaxed, sitting around with friends, goofing off.

I’d like to close with one of my favorite jokes.

What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
Nacho cheese.

Sorry if that was cheesy, I just wanted to make you laugh! Now post one of your favorite jokes in the Comments below and keep the laughter going!

Make Jokes
Book by the Author Theresa Julian

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Experts Rating
Theresa Julian is the author of The Joke Machine, a book that teaches middle graders how to be funny and create their own jokes. The book features hilarious fictional characters who explain 16 different joke-making techniques and includes lots of examples, exercises, and of course – jokes! Each chapter includes a fun exercise, such as how to brainstorm new endings to ordinary sentences, how to create a list of action verbs and exaggerate each one, and how to use situational irony to come up with unexpected results. Check out the book (http://bit.ly/JokeMachine) and keep laughing!

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