The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Jokes: Where Humour Meets the Unexpected

by Tara Price

18th November, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Jokes: Where Humour Meets the Unexpected

Introduction to Anti-Jokes

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question? Nothing. That’s not a joke; that’s an anti-joke. Anti-jokes are a unique form of humour where the punchline intentionally misses the mark, creating a surprising twist of expectations. Unlike traditional jokes that aim to elicit laughter through clever punchlines, anti-jokes find humour in being literal, straightforward, or completely offbeat.

Understanding the Charm of Anti-Jokes

At first glance, anti-jokes might seem unfunny or too simplistic. However, their charm lies in subverting the typical joke structure. They play with our anticipation of a humorous punchline and instead deliver something entirely mundane or literal.

This unexpectedness is what often leads to laughter or, at least, a bemused smile. Anti-jokes also challenge our assumptions and stereotypes, making us question why we find certain things funny or not. For example, an anti-joke might poke fun at the absurdity of racial or gender stereotypes or the illogic of common expressions or idioms.

The Anatomy of an Anti-Joke

An anti-joke typically consists of two parts: the setup, which is similar to a regular joke, and the punchline, which is intentionally anticlimactic or literal.

For example, a classic joke might ask, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” with a humorous answer, while an anti-joke would answer, “To get to the other side,” highlighting the literal reason without any humorous twist.

Another example of an anti-joke is, “What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh.” This anti-joke relies on the homophonic wordplay of “fish” and “fsh”, but instead of creating a witty or unexpected connection, it simply removes the letter “i” from both words, making the punchline flat and unremarkable.

Why Anti-Jokes are Gaining Popularity

In a world where traditional jokes and puns are everywhere, anti-jokes offer a refreshing change. They are also inclusive, as they don’t rely on cultural references or wordplay, making them universally understandable.

Their simplicity and unexpectedness make them memorable and shareable, perfect for social media and casual conversations. Anti-jokes also appeal to a certain sense of irony and sarcasm, which are popular forms of humour among younger generations.

Some people also enjoy anti-jokes because they are deliberately bad, and there is a certain pleasure in appreciating something that is intentionally awful.

Friends laughing photo cr Omar Lopez
Friends laughing photo cr Omar Lopez

A Collection of Classic Anti-Jokes

Here are some examples of classic anti-jokes that you might have heard or seen online:

  • “What’s brown and sticky? A stick.”
  • “I have an EpiPen. My friend gave it to me when he was dying. It seemed very important to him that I have it.”
  • “Why was the math book sad? It had too many problems.”
  • “What did one Frenchman say to the other? I have no idea; I don’t speak French.”
  • “Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? Because they are extinct.”

Creating Your Own Anti-Jokes

Crafting an anti-joke is about thinking of a conventional joke setup and then taking it in the most literal or straightforward direction possible. It’s about surprising the listener not with a twist but with the lack of one.

Here are some tips on how to create your own anti-jokes:

  • Think of a common joke format, such as a knock-knock joke, a riddle, or a one-liner.
  • Think of a possible punchline that is either literal, obvious, or irrelevant to the setup.
  • Try to make the punchline as bland or boring as possible, without adding any humour or wit.
  • Alternatively, you can also use an existing joke and change the punchline to make it an anti-joke.

For example, here is a knock-knock joke turned into an anti-joke:

  • Knock, knock.
  • Who’s there?
  • Dave.
  • Dave who?
  • Dave Smith, your neighbour. I’m here to borrow some sugar.

Conclusion: The Unconventional Appeal of Anti-Jokes

Anti-jokes challenge our traditional notions of humour, offering a different kind of comedic relief. They remind us that sometimes humour can be found in the most straightforward answers, and laughter can come from the least expected places. Anti-jokes are not for everyone, but for those who enjoy them, they are a source of amusement and creativity.

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