Definition of Humor

Humor is a literary tool that makes audiences laugh, or that intends to induce amusement or laughter. Its purpose is to break the monotony, boredom, and tedium, and make the audience’s nerves relax. The writer uses different techniques, tools, words, and even full sentences in order to bring to light new and funny sides of life. Humor is often found in literature, theater, movies, and advertising, where the major purpose is to make the audience happy.

Types of Humor

There are several types of devices that create humor. Humor is, in fact, the end product and not the device itself. These devices are:

Three Types of Humor Writing

In humor writing, satire, parody, and spoof are three major types.

  1. Satire: It is used to ridicule the people through sarcasm to attack their follies and vices specifically in the current politics.
  2. Parody: This type of humor is used to mimic or imitate seriousness to cause laughter.
  3. Spoof: It means to imitate or mock and generalize the points to make people associate humor with the original.

Elements of Humor in Literature

There are eight major elements of humor in writing literature.

  1. Self-deprecating: This is the best form of humor to target oneself to amuse people and create a cheerful environment.
  2. Hyperbolic: It means to make something bigger or exaggerate any real or fake events than it actually is for the sake of entertainment.
  3. Incongruity: It means to make something incongruous or silly through comments about something unsuitable.
  4. Situational: It means to talk about the situations whether good or bad in a funny way. This is sometimes done to lessen the tension in a serious environment too.
  5. Understatement: It means to belittle something for humor. It is the opposite of hyperbole and this type of humor lessens the importance and makes serious and bad things look like nothing.
  6. Irony: It means to hide the actual meanings behind the language. It is usually used a lot in humor when serious or painful situations are spoken in an opposite sense with great emotion.
  7. Satire: One of the most common senses of humor used to criticize someone like a political leader or any issues that are in the news/up-to-date and even using humor to expose their qualities.
  8. Anecdotal: It means to create anecdotes to cause laughter or reveal an account. These anecdotes can be based on truth or fiction.

Characteristics of Humor Genre

There are some features that are important for every humor genre. The writers use these elements such as surprise or repetition or incongruity or inversion. Some use superiority and inferiority, while others go for slapstick. In fact, whatever element is used for humor, fun, and entertainment, the main purpose is to entertain the readers and the audiences. Therefore, writers can coin new words and invent new techniques.

The Rule of Three in Humor

It is interesting that the rule of three is a dominant strain in the world of humor writing. The reason is that there is a principle that shows that three characters in some humorous tales have entertained more readers than any other such humorous story. For example, “Three Little Pigs” is very popular among children as “Three Musketeers” is popular among adults. The same has been framed as a rule of three that the stories having a humorous touch or thematic strand must have three characters or objects or ideas to attract the readers.

Use of Humor in Sentences

  1. Ah, there’s Jonny bursting through the door with a pencil!
  2. When the breakfast was delayed all the kids started singing, Jack and Jill went to the hill to fetch a pail of porridge.
  3. ‘What?’ asked Martin ‘David’s skin must be as thick as the rhino if he didn’t have injuries while playing football.’
  4. Although I am not a big fan of politics, they did do a great job turning the lives of students upside down.
  5. This is not a joke but a mouse did scare the poor cat.

Examples of Humor in Literature

Example #1: Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is one of her most popular works. Throughout the entire novel, Jane Austen uses humor. She presents a very hilarious scene between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet endlessly breaks down and makes complaints about her husband’s lack of understanding of her nerves, and then he responds by saying:

“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.”

He constantly pokes fun at her. Likewise, Austen bursts with humor in the case of Elizabeth and Darcy as, upon their first meeting, both feel a sense of disgust for one another. However, later they enjoy teasing each other.

Example #2: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain

“No, don’t you worry; these country jakes won’t ever think of that. Besides, you know, you’ll be in costume, and that makes all the difference in the world; Juliet’s in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight before she goes to bed, and she’s got on her night- gown and her ruffled nightcap. Here are the costumes for the parts.”

In this example, the duke is unable to recognize the silliness of his own actions, instead, he makes comments on the low level of understanding of the country jakes.

Example #3: To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee

harper lee has inserted humor by creating funny situations with a serious tone in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Many descriptions about Dill are funny and humorous, as he is presented as a larger-than-life person. When we first meet him, the kids take him a puppy. Then he says his name is Charles Baker Harris, saying that he can read, in spite of his age.

We also see a lot of humor in Scout’s actions, coming from her efforts to comprehend adult ideas, which are very complex for a child like her. Author is showing her to be a very smart kid. A humorous event occurs during Scout’s first day at school. Miss Caroline, the teacher, is naive, and “looked, and smelled like a peppermint drop.” We meet her when Scout tells her she had already been punished before lunch on her very first day at school, making children mildly suspicious.

Example #4: Great Expectations By Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens derives humor through characterization in his novel Great Expectations. The tone is serious, but there are humorous touches that punctuate the main action. We see a humorous scene at the dinner party when Joe Gargery tells his life story to Pip, and subtly measures gravy on Pip’s plate, while Mrs. Gargery gets onto him. Another funny situation happens when Magwitch wants to sleep and asks Pip:

“Where will you put me?” [Magwitch] asked, presently. “I must be put somewheres, dear boy.”

Function of Humor

Humor is one of the most effective literary weapons to please the audience, as it develops characters and makes plots useful and memorable. Humor plays many functions in a literary work. It arouses interest among readers, sustains their attention, helps them connect with the characters, emphasizes and relates ideas, and helps the readers picture the situation. Through this tool, writers can also improve the quality of their works by pleasing the audience. Apart from that, the most dominant function of humor is to provide surprise, which not only improves quality but improves the memorable style of a literary piece. The writers learn how to use words for different objectives.

Synonyms of Humor

The following words are close synonyms of humor such as comical aspect, funny side, comic side, hilarity, jocularity, absurdity, ludicrous, and satire.