/ Aron Thode

Humor Conversation Vocabulary

There is a question about the health benefits of laughing in the Humor Conversation Questions set: is laughing good for our health? I say that it definitely is. It feels good and relieving, and when done with other people, connecting.

The ESL classroom is usually a great place when there is laughter. As long as no one feels like they’re being laughed at, humor and laughter make learning easier.

Unfortunately, reflecting on and talking about humor can be surprisingly serious. What’s more, jokes don’t often survive the transition from one language and culture to another. While humor might not be the funniest topic, it is an interesting one and well worth your students’ time.

Some definitions for vocabulary from the Humor Conversation Questions:

Stand-up comedy (n) - comedy performed on stage, usually by one person talking directly to the audience, for typically between five minutes and one hour (also simply called stand-up)

Eddie Murphy started out doing stand-up comedy.

A man standing on stage and speaking into a microphone. He is spotlit and the room is otherwise dark.

Louie C.K. during a stand-up comedy performance in 2012. (source)

Dark humor (n) - comedy that is about topics that are usually serious or painful such as death, suicide, divorce, genocide, etc. (also known as black comedy, morbid humor, gallows humor)

If you don’t get the jokes, dark humor can sound really inappropriate.

Practical joke (n) - a joke that has physical aspects and often targets a person and involves them in the humor somehow. Classic example one: when opening a container, something bursts out unexpectedly. Classic example two: a bucket of confetti falls on a person when they come through a door.

My coworker is always pulling practical jokes on us.

Parody (n) - imitation that is different from the original person or thing for comedic and commentary purposes.

Blazing Saddles is a parody of cowboy movies.

Toilet humor (n) - humor that deals with bodily functions like pooping and farting.

Little kids find toilet humor to be hilarious.

Some other language that could be worth teaching before talking about humor:

To get a joke (v) - to get a joke means to understand it and appreciate why it’s funny

She said it wasn’t funny, but I think she just didn’t get it.

To laugh at vs to laugh with (v) - when we laugh at somebody, the person often doesn’t enjoy the joke because the joke is about their mistake or weakness (this is potentially cruel). When we laugh with a person, we can both enjoy the joke because neither of us is the target of the humor.

Timothy, please don’t laugh at your little brother.

Punchline (n) - a punchline of a joke is the part that is supposed to make us laugh, and it usually comes at the end.

You need to deliver the punchline well if you want to get a big laugh.