7 Best Types of Humor to Use in Speech

July 23, 2023

9 min read

There are many types of humor worthy of exploring.

Comedy has been around since the beginning of time in many forms and types of humor.

Even so, humor is often underlooked, especially in terms of using it in everyday speech or even in professional settings. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore using this speaking tactic for yourself. 

Check out the seven best types of humor to use in speech, how to use them, and what that could look like depending on your individual goals. 

What Are Types of Humor?

Although maybe people view humor and comedy as one entity, there are tons of types of humor (and subtypes). 

Since the beginning of humanity, people have relied on humor to get through tough times, inspire and motivate, and to just get a rise out of others. If you’re looking to use a bit of comedy in your natural or everyday speaking, check out these famous types of humor.

Top 7 Types of Humor

Being funny when you speak can be a bit tricky. Especially since humor and comedy can look different for everyone, especially depending on the speaker. 

Here are the top seven best types of humor to use in natural or everyday speech.

1. Surreal humor

Surreal humor is a type of comedy that’s best described as quirky, bizarre, and silly. This kind is one of the most underrated types of comedy. It’s been described as “strange,” “odd,” and just plain weird. For this reason, it’s also called “absurdist humor.” 

This type of humor plays off illogical or nonsense scenarios and dialogue. One of the most famous examples of surreal humor is comedy group Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.”

2. Slap-stick comedy (physical comedy)

Slap-stick comedy — also called physical comedy — refers to a type of humor that’s actually physical. 

This type is often exaggerated, too. It’s considered one of the most humorous types of comedy and one of the easiest to understand (whereas witty or dry humor can often go over your head). Usually, people who use slap-stick humor rely on props, like ladders or 

When you picture slap-stick comedy, the one person who should immediately come to mind is Charlie Chapman. Chapman was an English comedian famous for using slap-stick humor in the ’20s. He rose to fame during the silent film era, from the mid-1890s to the 1920s. 

Not surprisingly, humor in silent films (films without spoken dialogue) was tricky. Slap-stick or physical comedy helped mitigate the difficulty of getting humor across without speaking. 

Some examples of what slap-stick comedy looked like for actors like Chapman in particular include:

  • Walking into walls
  • Tripping over train tracks
  • Hanging from a ladder
  • Slipping on objects on the floor

A more recent example of actors using slap-stick comedy is Mr. Bean.

3. Observational humor

Observational humor is a type of comedy that pokes fun on everyday, normal life. This is one of the best types of humor for natural speech as it’s extremely versatile and can be tailored to your audience. 

The majority of stand-up comedians use observational humor to make commentaries on everyday subjects. Comedians like Ali Wong, Pete Davison, and Jerry Seinfeld are great examples of people who use observational humor. 

4. Aggressive humor

As you might’ve guessed, aggressive humor is a type of humor that relies on aggression toward others. This features methods of comedy where the comedian purposely makes fun of audience members. 

Even though belittling someone might not sound very fun, this type of humor is actually pretty popular. For example, if you’ve ever heard of or seen a “roast” or a “roast battle,” you’re looking at aggressive humor.

Still, this is a type of humor that you’ll have to be careful using; it doesn’t go well in every situation, especially in natural speech.

5.  Black comedy (dark humor)

Black comedy or dark humor is a type of humor where the subject joked about is dark or morbid. This type of humor is really popular on TikTok, where TikTokers (often from Gen Z) retell traumatic stories in a humorous way.

Still, dark humor is used in tons of other scenarios since it’s a very versatile type of comedy. Some common themes explored in black comedy include: 

  • Death and suicide
  • Poverty
  • Crime, such as discrimination, violence, and rape
  • And even more serious and collective traumatic events, such as slavery, the Holocaust, and wars

That being said, dark humor is often inappropriate for natural speech (unless you’re in the company of, say, a very good friend). 

6. Self-deprecating humor

Self-deprecating humor is an extremely popular type of humor where the speaker makes a joke about themselves.

It’s not unusual for the person making self-deprecating jokes to do so in order to beat others to the punchline. 

Even still, not everyone likes this type of humor. In fact, self-deprecating humor can come off as annoying or irritating depending on your audience. 

7. Dry humor (deadpan comedy)

Dry humor or deadpan comedy is humor expressed in a completely unemotional way. This kind is more common in countries like England (think “A Bit of Fry and Laurie”). It’s also popularly used in talk shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “Conan.”

The downside to dry humor is that you risk your audience not picking up on the jokes due to the style in which it’s delivered. That being said, be a bit wary about using this humor in all situations. 

More types of humor worth exploring

Here are a few more types of humor worth exploring in your natural speech. 

They include:

  • Double entendres: Making jokes that have more than one meaning (similar/related to innuendos)
  • Parody/satire humor: Imitating an existing media (such as a book or movie) in a comedic way
  • Sarcasm: Using your tone and inflection to deliver a statement, often ironically
  • Wordplay humor: Relying on wordplay tactics — like puns — for comedy
  • Affiliative humor: Leveraging things people have in common to make jokes
  • Farcical humor: Using absurdist comedy tactics to exaggerate situations in a humorous way
  • Witty humor: Relying on your own wit for humor or using certain epigrammatic sayings
  • Self-enhancing humor: Using comedy to deal with unfortunate situations or help make the person feel better
  • Juvenile humor: Using specific “juvenile” tactics like toilet humor to joke (e.g., “Beavis and Butthead,” “South Park,” and “Family Guy”) that could make the youngest audiences laugh — not to say that juvenile humor is appropriate for all ages

When to Use Types of Humor

Not all humor is created equal. As such, knowing when to use these types of humor is absolutely essential. 

If you’re looking to use various types of humor in everyday speech — whether you’re talking to a friend, giving a presentation at work, or even interviewing for a job — there are certain types that are safer choices than others.

The best kinds of humor to use in natural speech include:

  • Sarcasm
  • Observational humor
  • Wordplay humor 
  • Witty humor
  • Affiliative humor

The most “risky” types of humor to use in everyday speech include:

  • Slap-stick comedy
  • Juvenile humor
  • Farcical humor
  • Surreal humor
  • Dark humor

Why to Use Types of Humor in Speech

So, why would you ever use humor in daily speech?

There are a few valid reasons why you’d want to use humor when speaking. 

1. You’re trying to distract your audience from negative feelings, like fear or anxiety. In a professional or more casual setting, humor can act as a distraction from uncomfortable feelings. Although it’s not always appropriate for a professional setting, throwing in a comedic remark here or there can sometimes help. Still, be sure not to rely 100% on your humor to get your audience through a tough time. 

2. You want others to see you in a different light. Using a bit of humor can actually change how others see you. Research shows comedy can make an audience view you in a more positive way, whether you’re using it during a speech or presentation, or just with your friends. 

3. You’re trying to engage your audience. If you’ve ever sat through a boring presentation, you know it’s almost a form of torture in and of itself. However, by sprinkling a little humor throughout, you can better engage your audience and captivate their attention. 

4. You want to energize your listener. Using humor in conversation can actually energize your listener. For example, if you use humor during a presentation, it can effectively “wake up” your audience and help them remember what your presentation was about. 

Types of Humor Examples

Seeing examples can better elucidate types of humor. 

Here are just a few types of humor examples to give you a more solid idea of what these kinds look like.

Surreal humor examples

Arguably the best example of surreal humor is Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” Here’s a clip from “Holy Grail,” which relies heavily on surreal humor:

One of the most bizarre types of humor is surreal humor, like the comedy in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.”

This is a bit on a group of knights who say “ni” — an absurd scene that’s as inexplicably funny as it is bizarre. 

Observational humor examples 

In terms of observational humor, comedians rely on this kind often during their sets. 

See if you can identify the observational humor in this complication of Ali Wong comedy:

Observational comedy is one of the most popular types that stand-up comedians use.

Slapstick comedy examples

To better illustrate what slap-stick humor looks like, check out some of these famous Charlie Chapman moments:

Charlie Chaplin is most famous for his slap-stick comedy.

Dry humor examples

Dry humor is extremely popular, especially in England. Here’s a clip from the ’80s British comedy show, “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” that uses dry humor: 

“A Bit of Fry and Laurie” frequently relies on dry humor to connect with audiences.

This clip in particular also uses a bit of physical humor, as the actors need props for this scene. 

Juvenile humor examples

The title of this show is the epitome of juvenile humor: “Beavis and Butthead.” The renowned ’90s cartoon relies on this kind of humor in every episode. 

The joke in this clip revolves around “Uranus,” the planet:

Juvenile humor is probably one of the most divisive types — You either hate it or love it.

How to Practice Using Humor

To be frank, using humor during everyday conversation won’t be easy if you’re not used to it. You’ll need a little bit of practice before you confidently use humor in speech.

For everyday conversation and speeches

To learn how to use humor during a conversation with a friend or even a presentation at work, having your speech analyzed by an AI communication coach can do wonders. 

For example, you can explore an app like Yoodli, which analyzes a pre-recorded video or live recording on that app to give you feedback on things like your filler word usage, how fast or slow you’re talking, and even your word choice and body language (all of which are critical insights to review if you’re going to be using humor in speech).

Unlike other speech coach apps, Yoodli is completely free to use, so you can practice as much as you want. You can even use Yoodli in meetings at work to analyze your speech in real time. You can learn more about how to do that below: 

Private Yoodli is perfect for practicing types of humor.

For non-native English speakers

Learning how to practice using humor is the exact same process for non-native English speakers, with a few small considerations. 

If English isn’t your first language for example, there are certain types of humor you might want to practice or get more comfortable with. Humor subtypes such as witty or dry can be more difficult to understand on the first go. 

Luckily, humor pairs perfectly with English speaking practice, so don’t be afraid to experiment and implement some of these comedic tactics in your own speech.

The Bottom Line

Comedy is an often overlooked aspect of speech and communication, especially when it comes to professional speech. There’s a fear that the humor used might be inappropriate or not fit for the social setting; still, there are certain types of humor that on the other hand are perfect for conversational speech. 

Knowing which types of humor to use in speech is a must, and practicing with an AI speech coach like Yoodli can certainly help you get there. Just remember to practice in safe spaces first where you won’t be judged harshly, such as Yoodli or a close friend. 


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