Funny Writing: Endings to Make you LOL

This image of a sign shows an example of funny writing. It reads: You'll always be my friend. You know too much.

Laughing at funny writing does you good.

Language can be so enjoyable, and I love writing that makes me laugh. Here are some funny writing examples that I’ve enjoyed this month.

If you’re looking for writing tips today, please visit my earlier posts on copywriting, apostrophes, to-do list, how to write a letter of recommendation or a job advertisement, editing, proofreading and how to write engaging online content.

Today’s examples of clever and amusing writing come from a novel, the rich and famous, and a primary school classroom. A fourth example is actually a video, but I couldn’t resist including it just a week after Mother’s Day (here in Australia). Also, it’s effective for much the same reason as the other examples.

The theme is contrast. It’s the endings to each of these examples that make us (well, me!) laugh.

1. Funny Writing – Novel

Here’s an extract (from a post I wrote in early 2014) from the novel A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes.

When the film ‘Jaws’ came out, there were many attempts to explain its hold over the audience. Did it draw on some primal metaphor, some archetypal dream known the world over? Did it exploit the clashing elements of land and water, feeding on our anxiety at the concept of amphibianism?

Did it relate in some way to the fact that millions of years ago our bill-bearing ancestors crawled out of the pond, and ever since we have been paralysed by the thought of a return to it? The English novelist, Kingsley Amis, considering the film and its possible interpretations, came to the following conclusion: ‘It’s about being bloody frightened of being eaten by a bloody great shark’.

One of the things that’s so brilliant in this writing is the contrast between the precise, elegant, thoughtful language of the first four and a half sentences, and the blunt down-to-earthness of the final quote.

The last bit – so unexpected – is what gives the paragraph its impact. Just when we’re relaxing into the smooth and fluent language of academic analysis in the first paragraph and three quarters, Barnes pulls us up short with the ending.

I’ve remembered it for years.

2. Funny Writing – Paraprosdokians

‘Paraprosdokian’ was a new word for me. The origin of the word is so controversial, apparently, that it doesn’t appear in any print dictionary. But it probably comes from the Greek para – ‘against’ and prosdokia – ‘expectation’.

It describes a language technique where the second part of a sentence unexpectedly causes you to reinterpret the first half, and – usually – to LOL.

I read that Winston Churchill, among other well-known public figures, was fond of them.

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else. Winston Churchill

Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others, whenever they go. Oscar Wilde

Marriage is a great institution; but I’m not ready for an institution. Mae West

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. Einstein

If I’m reading this graph correctly, I’d be very surprised. Stephen Colbert

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it. Groucho Marx

If I could just say a few words, I’d be a better public speaker. Homer Simpson

Excellent, aren’t they! These ‘work’ because we make assumptions as we read the first half that get blown away by the second half. It’s that idea of contrast again.

3. Funny Writing – Kids’ Proverbs

I remember learning proverbs off by heart at school, but I’m not sure it happens all that often in English classrooms these days. Email legend has it that a teacher asked her primary class to finish off some well-known sayings. According to the kids’ work, however, maybe they’re not so well-known after all.

Never underestimate the power of .. termites.

You can lead a horse to water but .. how?

No news is .. impossible.

A miss is as good as a .. Mr.

The pen is mightier than the .. pigs.

An idle mind is .. the best way to relax.

Children should be seen and not .. spanked or grounded.

If at first you don’t succeed, .. get new batteries.

Here, of course, the humour comes from the contrast between the traditional ending to each saying, with its typically moral overtones, and the children’s less noble ideas.

~

Which are your favourite bits of funny writing – from this post or elsewhere? While you’re thinking about it, go ahead and share this with anyone who might appreciate a quick laugh today 🙂

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Comments

  1. Bernie uhlmann says:

    You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil has to be lead.
    Give a man an inch and he thinks he’s a ruler.
    It’s all just water under the fridge.

  2. Ethel Green says:

    This is such a good blog, Alison. It is funny and informative. We’ve just been to a lecture on living well in old age and one major factor is humour! Thank you. M

  3. Awesome post! I had no idea such a word as “paraprosdokian” existed. I guess there’s so much yet I have to learn 😉 I definitely enjoy humour, though, especially when the topic could be written in a .. less than fun way. I appreciate when people take the more approachable and fun(ny) way to write.

  4. I find Stephen Colbert so witty…I’m sure you could develop quite the list with his quotes alone. And you introduced me to a new word…para what? Very interesting!!

  5. I love this! I always relate to writing (and of course a writer) when humor is involved. It’s so real. Thanks for these examples- it gives me much to think about as I sit down to write this week.

  6. love this Alison especially the new word Paraprosdokian, thanks for lightening my morning

  7. Alison, this was a fantastic post! I loved your references! I watched the video, clueless, despite your Mother’s Day hint, and first I got chills, and then I cried. Mission accomplished!! Thanks for this beautiful post!!

  8. Hi Alison,
    Loved this and my favourite is the blunt down to earth quote re Jaws… sums it all up perfectly in a few words in fabulous contrast. Cheers Di

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