Ha ha ha!!! Humour in English

Is this an example of black humor or slapstick?  See definitions below.

Recently, many of my students have asked about words with “wit“.   This word generally refers to your mind and specifically to people who have a very fast, intelligent sense of humor.  We say such people or things are very “witty“.

Ex: I love Woody Allen films – they are so witty.

There is a whole series of words that have “wit” in them, but many are not common nowadays.  “Half-wit” is, for example, someone with half a brain (stupid person).  And since “dim” means a very weak light a “dim-wit” is, similarily, not a very intelligent person.

What about other types of humor?  Good question.

Dry humor is another “intelligent” form of humor.  It is sophisticated and subtle.  The person telling the joke/story will likely not laugh.  They depend on the listener to be educated enough to understand the joke without having to make it obvious.  British humor is often described as “dry”

Black humor makes fun of human suffering.  Soon after (but not too soon after) a national or international tragedy, black humor always appears.  It deals with taboo subjects.

Physical humor/comedy is also called “slapstick” is the humor of the body not the words.   In this humor people fall down, throw pies, and hit each on the head all for a laugh.  Typical examples include Charlie Chaplin, Mr. Bean, Jim Carey, etc.

Low brow humor is the opposite of high brow humor (see below).  It is the humor of being vulgar and generally making jokes about body parts and processes. 

High brow humor is the humor of the intellect.  This, more literary humor, doesn’t deal with the more animal side of humanity.

Corny humor is humor that is so simple and/or old-fashioned that it’s lost its appeal.   It usually annoys people.

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