Dry Humor

Dry Humor - Characteristics, Identification, and Examples

Dry humor. One of the most difficult styles of humor to master. Let us, in this article, understand what exactly dry humor is.
SocialMettle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Comedy has always been a great source of entertainment. And the gift of making people laugh is one of the best gifts that a person can be blessed with. Some people have the uncanny ability of making people laugh because they know how to be funny all the time. However, out of all the different types of humor, there is one particular style, which is not only difficult to master, but most people find it difficult to even identify with it. Yes, it's dry humor. Let us see what exactly characterizes this style of humor.

What is Dry Humor?

So, what exactly is this dry sense of humor? And what are the distinctive characteristics of this type of comedy? Here's your answer. Dry humor, or deadpan humor, as it is also called, is that type of humor in which a person states the joke in a very matter-of-fact tone. The joke may be a mere statement that the person is making, about a current situation or happening. It is the outrageous and cleverly implied manner in which the person makes the statement that makes it so funny, and sometimes, difficult to understand.

What are its Characteristics

Given below are some of the essential characteristics of dry humor as a type of comedy.
  • The person uses words and phrases which are commonly used and understood by lay people.
  • There is generally, minimal or no use of facial expressions, body language, props or any other tool to get the point of the joke across.
  • The person states absurd and incorrigible facts in such a blatantly honest matter that it becomes hard not to laugh.
  • All through the joke/s, the person maintains a very monotonous or unflinching demeanor.
  • Sarcasm and cynicism are key factors in the development of dry humor.
  • The term pokerfaced gets a new meaning when you see a person using dry humor. Expressionless faces are its highlight.
  • Most people would consider deadpan humor to be rude, because they might not understand it OR because, in order to be good at delivering it, the person takes up a snooty personality for better effect.
  • Generally, British humor is considered to be dry, as it has a stuck-up and uppish air to it.
  • Simple facts and ideas are stated extremely plainly. This is what distinguishes this type of humor, which inherently and very obviously state the 'joke' in a statement.
  • It has a sense of irony to it.
Since by its name and nature, dry humor is 'supposed' to be condescending, there is a misconception that the person delivering it is also condescending and arrogant by nature. While this may be true in some cases, it should be understood that the person is merely putting an air of superiority and patronizing behavior so that the 'joke' has the desired effect on the audience. However, at the same time, it is also the responsibility of the person to ensure that the jokes do not take a toll on someone who is not as good a sport as he is expected to be. Dry humor does not necessarily need to be offensive or obscene. There is a fine line between dry humor and arrogant, senseless humor, which only an intelligent mind can decipher and use to his own benefit.

Examples
  • "Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait." ~ A. Whitney Brown
  • "I've never been married, but I tell people I'm divorced so they won't think something is wrong with me." ~ Elayne Boosler
  • "A cop stopped me for speeding. He said, 'Why were you going so fast?' I said, 'See this thing my foot is on? It's called an accelerator. When you push down on it, it sends more gas to the engine. The whole car just takes right off. And see this thing? This steers it." ~ Steven Wright
  • "The most important thing I would learn in school was that almost everything I would learn in school would be utterly useless. When I was fifteen I knew the principal industries of the Ruhr Valley, the underlying causes of World War One and what Peig Sayers had for her dinner every day...What I wanted to know when I was fifteen was the best way to chat up girls. That is what I still want to know." ~ From The Secret World of the Irish Male by Joseph O'Connor
These were some examples that will help you understand the concept of dry humor better. Hope they help you in starting a riot of laughter wherever you go! I'll leave you with a quote by Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, who I think has got the whole 'dry humor' thing going on really well!

Leonard: You'll never guess what just happened.
Sheldon: You went out into the hallway, stumbled into an inter-dimensional portal which brought you 5,000 years into the future, which you took advantage of the advanced technology to build a time machine, and now you're back to bring us all with you to the year 7010, where we transported to work at the thinkatorium by telepathically controlled dolphins."