Why a Joke Is Funny

The humor which follows is from Les Harden, Brisbane, Australia.  He could have written the line:  With my luck…my submissions for the April humor contest will vanish into cyberspace.  They arrived after the winners were announced and I wanted to share fourteen of them with you.  You may recognize his name, he is a past contest winner.  Besides being very creative with humor, part of his success is in the numbers.  He submitted over 200 lines for both the March and April contests.  Almost 500 lines in two months!

Here are the lines.  And if youre interested in what makes the lines tick (in addition to surprise, twist and talent), read the next section, Humor Triggers.

The Humor 

1.  With my luck…the vicar and the police commissioner would be the only other suspects. (J/L)

2.  With my luck…Im too old to be a Toy Boy and not rich enough to be a Sugar Daddy. (M)

3.  With my luck…my soul mate be as tall as me and shell insist on wearing high-heals. (J/N)

4.  With my luck…when I have a day off sick, the boss will go to the same game. (L)

5.  With my luck…the best business proposition Ill receive all day would be from an undercover cop.  (H/K)

6.  With my luck…my blind date will be slim, sexily dressed and have an Adams apple.  (A)

7.  With my luck…people will perceive me as funny peculiar and not funny humorous. (E)

8.  With my luck…Ill go down in history as a forensics case study. (F)

9.  With my luck…by the time I lose weight, all my old clothes will have gone out of style…for a second time.  (C/G)

10.  With my luck…the hand that pats my back will be holding a knife. (I)

11.  With my luck…if I pass away on Easter Friday and came back on Easter Sunday, someone would have eaten all my Easter eggs. (F)

12.  With my luck…Passover will be the time of year that my boss considers my promotion. (E)

13.  With my luck…if they ever made a movie of my life, Danny DeVito would look the most like my first wife. (B)

14.  With my luck…Ill spend 8 years at toastmasters before learning that Ive got nothing worth saying. (D)

Humor Triggers

A.  The Rule of Three.  Setting the pattern.  Expected, Expected, Twist. (6)

B.  Exaggeration of the Truth. (13)

C.  The Truth is Funny. (9)

D.  Self-deprecation.  Poke fun at yourself. (14)

E.  Alternate Word Meanings.  A great humor tool. (7/12)

F.  Contrasting Relationships.  Hero/victim. (8/11)

G.  Use of Topper.  One joke immediately followed by another joke which builds on the first. (9)

H.  The Unexpected Twist.  Punchline from right field. (5)

I.  Combining Two Clichés. (10)

J.  Question:  How could this be worse?  Ive been arrested for a crime, how could this be worse? Shes taller than me, how could this be worse? (1/3)

K.  Question:  How is this too good to be true? (5)

L.  The Implied Set Up.  Often the setup is stronger if you let the reader fill in the blank.  I was arrested.  I went to a ballgame. (1/4)

M.  Contrasting Pairs.  Too old/too young; too rich/too poor, too tall/too short. (2)

N.  Extrapolation.  How can I extend this to make it even more exaggerated or worse? (3)