What is Dry Humour?

What is dry humour anyway? Is it humour minus the saliva?

Dry humour defined

dry humour” or “dry humor” (as Americans spell it) is humour told in a “dry” way, without emotion (e.g. seriously). So you tell a joke like it’s not a joke, in a matter-of-fact kind of way — in this sense, dry humour can be said to be all about the delivery of the joke.

It is an implied or indirect kind of humour, often with an emphasis on how the joke is told.

As an aside, you should also note that dry humour is largely subjective, as you’ll notice if you read the comments on this post below.

For those seeking “official” confirmation of what dry humour really is, here’s the definition from Wordreference.com:

humorously sarcastic or mocking; “dry humor”; “an ironic remark often conveys an intended meaning obliquely”; “an ironic novel”; “an ironical smile”; “with a wry Scottish wit”

Below are even more clues to what dry humour is (or if you like, check out the comments at the bottom of the page. You’ll find many useful definitions, links, and other miscellaneous information from my readers):

  • One type of British humor is often said to be “dry humor.” It is based on a hardly observable, or small deviation — a slight gesture. — From the essay How Can Humor Be Classified?
  • Humorous or sarcastic in a shrewd, impersonal way. — From thefreedictionary.com/dry
  • dry is really no more than a clever circumlocution or a punch line that doesn’t need to be said. — From article How Dry is Dry?
  • Deadpan is a form of comedic delivery in which something humorous is said or done by a person, while not exhibiting a change in emotion or facial expression. — From Wikipedia definition of deadpan, which is what some people claim dry humour to be


There have been a hundred (or more) comments on this post already. I do not suggest that you go through all (or any) of them, since many simply reiterate the points I have written.

136 thoughts on “What is Dry Humour?

Add yours

    1. They put grease on him. Grease makes you slip about really easy, like oil. That’s whats making him go downhill fast.

  1. Dry humour is not sarcastic per se. It is just delivered in a way which gives no signifiers that it is a joke. It depends on two things Matter of fact delivery and the listener actually analysing what`s being said.
    “My brother`s been really ill in hospital for weeks after the fire at his house. He was doing well until they covered his burns in grease. Now he`s going downhill fast”

  2. Hi cutie,
    I’m not quite sure what Colin meant in his dry humour example. The likelihood of him coming back to this site and explaining himself is close to none, so I think we shall leave it at that. Allow me, therefore, to provide another example.

    I wrote the following in an e-mail to an old friend, and I on hindsight realised it proved a good candidate for “dry humour”:

    “If God comdemns me because a Catholic path I did not take, then so be it — eternal Hell, here I come.

    Speaking of Hell, I’ll be serving my National Service until the 28th of September this year.”

    Although it is not good form to explain a joke, I think an allowance should be made here, for academic reasons.

    In the above example I talk first, in earnest about my religion, Catholicism. After I mention “Hell”, I immediately lead on from that into speaking of National Service, thereby effectively imposing the image of “Hell” into “National Service”. The association is implicit: I do not say, “National Service is Hell”. Rather, I imply it.

    There is, of course, a higher chance that people won’t get the association, but those who do will understand how much more humourous it can be.

    This association (of Hell and National Service) is not widespread, and would thus force the reader to pause to ponder what was said, and upon understanding what is said, laugh. You can say it takes a more indirect route to laughter.

    You might exchange “National Service” for something like “my mother-in-law’s”, for example:

    “Speaking of Hell, I was at my mother-in-law’s the other night…”

    The latter would probably be more familiar, and everyone who understands the relationship between husbands and mother-in-laws will smile at the connection implied.

    Allow me one more example. Imagine a comic where a man is looking at his shoe. Below his shoe is a pile of shit (excretion, faeces), or what some might call crap.

    In his speech bubble, you see that he says, “Crap.”

    Now, you can choose to see what he says in two ways.

    First, literally: he is exclaiming that he has stepped on “crap”.

    Second, as a figure of speech: he exclaims it as a softer way of cursing or cussing, as in, “crap, I stepped on poo.”

    Dry humour can come in many forms, but generally an indirect and subtle way.

  3. You might want to check out “The 5th Wave” comics. They can be found at:


    This cartoon is one that regularly uses dry humour. Sometimes it can get so dry as to leave me speechless; I must admit I don’t always get it, but often I do. And it is one of my favourites, and anyone looking for dry humour should like it too.

  4. You might want to check out “The 5th Wave” comics. They can be found at:


    This cartoon is one that regularly uses dry humour. Sometimes it can get so dry as to leave me speechless; I must admit I don’t always get it, but often I do. And it is one of my favourites, and anyone looking for dry humour should like it too.

  5. Donn, hate to say it, but none of your examples are actually classed as dry humour.

    And Cutie, what Colin meant was that he’s really greased up now so he can go fast down a hill…

  6. hmm… okay, but if none of my examples are actually classed as dry humour, what is dry humour then? I would have appreciated if you [VJ] had left us a few examples, which might have cleared up the air a little bit.

    What I’ve found is that there are several ways of classifing dry humour; in some ways it is the way the joke is said, in some it is the joke itself. I’ve given several examples of each, and if both are not right, I’d be at quite a loss as to what is.

  7. I had half the mind to delete that last comment, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Is it supposed to be an example of dry humour?

  8. Can some one explain the following:
    His wry sense of humor caused more confusion than he must have intented.

    I did not get this sentence.

    1. This means he always has a weird joke to say. But this time, the joke was so weird, that no one even understood what he meant, they were confused by the joke. He didn’t mean for it to be so weird that it wouldn’t be understandable, he just meant for it to be weird.

  9. I will try with one I made. It’s probably not very good…

    The earth is in some troubling times, but someday I will single handedly revolutionize the world. I’ll start small with spoons. *reassuringly* They have flaws. . .ever taste a spoon? Taste like metal.

    May seem stupid and obvious, but thats the point. It’s how it got from point A to point B and went it into a new unexpeted direction. That and the delivery is the importance of dry humor. It doesn’t really have to make sense. Watch the comediam Steven Wright. He’s much better than me.

  10. it feels to me that a joke becomes dry if told to the wrong group or at the wrong situation/time.

    i.e. I’m at a religious wedding and I said to the bride and groom:
    “They say till death do you part, but don’t go killin’ yourself now!”

    That’s like “wtf is he talking about”? First off, that’s not even funny and probably somewhat offensive, but no one wanted to tell you to shut up because that’d ruin the wonderous moments of a wedding, so they simply give an awkward smile.

    That’s it! Dry humor are humor that generate awkward smiles. The audience does not know whether to laugh or not, but still do because they suspect that it was a joke even though they had reasonable amount of doubts.

    If you told your jokes at the wrong time, occasion, or crowd, it may become dry humor.

    Personally, I like Donn’s examples and the way he explained it.

    As for Colin Birch’s “now he’s going downhill fast”, I laughed my head off.

  11. Here is an e-mail I sent to a woman that complained that I acted too serious in the past. She said that I have a dry sense of humor.

    The e-mail:

    I was serious with you because I had to be. If I wasn’t, you would have been even more obnoxious and I’m not above smacking the hell out of a woman.

    “Women are like children.” – Mr. Perfect

  12. So, Dry Humour…
    Now you have to accept the fact that most people seem to hold fairly different opinions on this topic (just look back over the coments to see this), but if you wish to kno my classification of dry humour it is as follows:

    First off, Colin Birch’sexampleis actually a very good one. Imagine saying that to a freind with an innate grin on your face and giving a small laugh afterwards…that would not be dryat all. The way hat he means the joke to be read is with a completely blank face and no indication that he was joking (or i assume this is the case as this would be dry humour). Dry Humour tends to be told with a pan/poker face (no expression whatsoever)which is often how you can spot it.
    I do not think that VJ really knows what he is talking about as Donn’s explanation is very good, so ignore him
    Hailbane’s joke would be classified as stale. now i know that the difference seems minimal meaning the similarities of the words stale and dry, but dry is nothing to do with how the joke goes down, and all about how it is told. It colud well have been said in a dry humour way (no expression and pretending to be serious),and then it would have been dry humour, but her coments about people’s reactions are irrelevant. (stale is bad taste, leaving an awkward feeling and often a silence or the smiles that hailbane described)

    Basically – Dry Humour is a comment that sounds like a continuation of the conversation or someones afterthought, and sounds completely serious (pan faced as well), and it is often said in such a way that people do not spott the humour. Evenif they do they might just think that you are not very intelligent depending on your comment (if they do not know you well) as theymight fail to tell that you are joking. Once you know smeone with a dry sense of humour well enough you will spot te joke every time even though those around you may not (a bit like a private joke in that sense just no one else even knows that you are joking)

    Sorry this is long winded but i tend to do that when i write, especially about things like this whichare hard to explain face to face because they are very vague, but even more so in text.

    If you are still uncertain or i have confused you, understand that sarcastic comments said in a serious voice is dry humour and you will not be far off.

    I think i might stop now or the internet might crash due toit being overloaded

    1. That’s a very good explanation. Most of my friends tell me that I have a VERY dry sense of humor, and I can vouch for the fact that I tell most of my jokes with a straight face. (Although I usually spoil it by laughing 5 seconds later.)

  13. I come from a huge family of dry humorist’s. When they all get together it’s even worse, they play off each other’s ridiculousness. my example for dry humor would be: for example my ex roomate had two dogs. And in describing a picture of the two dogs I said they were my exroomates, best roomates ever, except they slacked on the rent and ate my oakley goggles and my only comfortable pair of high heels. Can dogs pay rent? No of course not. Thats why its subtly funny. I wish I could think of some other jokes, I’ve heard many growing up in this family. My cousin actually disagreed with my opinion of the dry humor which is why Im here trying to get a real definition, I think Im right.
    Sometimes my dad will make me laugh because its so NOT funny that I just had to laugh for some reason. He is always crackin jokes about the obvious. And then he cracks up laughing himself practically in tears, and he has the funniest laugh. ahhaha, I laugh just thinking about it.
    Anyhow yes I think dry humor is making jokes about the obvious, there is irony in there. AND about the lack of emotion part I believe that would be more sarcastic humor.

  14. I have recently read a book by Eva Ibootson, secret of platform 13, which was said by some to contain dry humour. Which is why I ended here. Then, I agree with the definition provided in Donn’s original answer to the question, but not being British,and english not being my native language, I can’t understand most of the examples(as for being humorous). On the other hand, I feel the book I mentioned has some bits of this kind of humour, even if it is a children book. So that’ a sample paragraph:

    “With the floating island, of course, came the people who were living on it: sensible people mostly who understood that everyone did not have to have exactly two arms and legs , but might be different in shape and different in the way they thought. So they lived peacefully with ogres who had one eye or dragons (of whom there were a lot about those days) . They didn’t leap into the sea every time they saw a mermaid comb her hair on a rock. They simply said, “Good morning.”…..”

    And it goes on and on the same…
    If you know Terry Pratchett, do you think that he belongs also to this category ? The fact is that I have been wondering for some times now about why I am so attracted with British humour. But as said here, there is more than one kind of British humour…so from now on, I will wonder toward which one I am more inclined, with a suspicion that it may be the dry one.

  15. I have two words:

    Shaun of the dead

    Oh sorry thats three words, mind you what do I know am dyslexic for all I know that could be four words.

    Watch that film great humour. I would said it was dry in parts, slap sticky in others. The bit where they throw the mps/vinyls/cd shaped black disks. I would of said that was dry as they look so serious while doing it.

    Dry humour: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadpan

  16. Im not exactly sure, but I know that dry humor is when you pull humor out of soemthign that suaully wouldn’t be considered funny, but actually offensive to some if not most people.

  17. I wouldn’t want to live forever… I just want a couple millennia to come to terms with actually dying.

    – Said to my science teacher today while talking about religon, and how when you go to heaven you’re supposed to have eternal life.

    But sure if it counts or not. Meh. *Shrugs*

  18. My mom always tells me I have a dry sense of humor, and I never really knew what that meant. Usually I would consider myself extremely offensive for instance… a rather large older couple I saw outside of a veternary clinic. The women seemed to be crying as if they just had to put down the family pet. The man was comforting the women. When I made the comment of something along the lines, “I’m not sure if that womens crying because hes dead or he tasted bad…” I suppose everyones definitions different though anyways thats one of the things I can remember, but I’m always cracking jokes left and right in a very sarcastic, subtle way that only my close friends pick up on.

  19. the other day i was on a website and it said that the harry potter books had a lot of dry humor in them. so i came here to try and figure out what exactly dry humor is. i think it is humor that is said in a serious manner and inless you’re paying close attention you might miss it. i thinkit is also quite simular to sarcasm.

    i think these might be examples of dry humor:

    “Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.”


    “they stuff peoples heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall,” he [dudley] told harry. “want to come upstairs and practice?”
    “no thanks,” said harry. “the poor toilet’s never had anything as horrible as your head down it – it might be sick.”

    (from harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone)

    1. Oh, that second one is my favorite line from those books! And yes, it would qualify as dry humor.

  20. I think the key is that the listener must be left in some doubt about whether a joke is being made. This makes giving an example impossible almost by definition because you’re trying to make obvious what cannot be made obvious without ceasing to be what it’s meant to illustrate. I think Cutie gave the best example right at the beginning.

  21. Here is an example of something I’d consider to be “dry humour” (something you have to listen to to catch but appears on the surface to be serious): It was on a radio-comedy show and the one character said to the other “oh goodness yes… my family is KNOWN for their low profile”. It’s funny because it’s a contradiction…. you can’t be “known” AND have a “low profile”. This type of humour is more subtle and relies upon the listener to be alert – it is the opposite of slap-stick humour.

  22. I saw this one on House, when the doctor the show was named after enters a patients room with a man to discuss something in private. The man sees the aparently sleeping patient on the bed behind them.

    Man- “Is he sleeping?”

    House- “Yeah, he’s just so tired from being in a coma so long.”

    House then proceeds to discuss the matter of another patients health witohut any further regard to his little joke.

  23. i took this psycoligical profile (or how ever you spell that) and it said many times that i have a dry/wry sense of humor…
    i have no clue what that means

  24. I think a dry sense of humor is a compliment, it means you are witty. Here are some famous actors that are considered deadpan:
    Christopher Walken, Bill Murray (Hello!! Scrooged), Dr. Greg House in um House, Brian (The dog) in Family Guy. So as you can see there are plenty of people and characters that have dry humor to make having dry humor a sunny disposition.
    ( b/c no one laughs at your witty jokes and thinks your rude and sarcastic; therefore, no one will want to speak to you, hey unwitty people not wanting to speak to you is a sunny disposition… well at least you know one person is laughing on the inside… you 🙂

  25. Having dry humour should most definately be taken as a compliment, Steph. The key to the reception to it though, as has already been mentioned, really relies on how well the audience knows you and your “style” of humour. A stranger may take offence at the blank, forthrightness of the joke, they may miss the subtlety of it all together, they may simply not find it funny at all, but somebody familiar with you and your humour should understand and enjoy the joke.

    A few comedians off the top of my head who have relied heavily on dry humour are Hugh Lawrie and Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder series) or Hugh Dennis and Frankie Boyle (Mock the Week). Their usage of it is obvious, and to me it’s what makes them enjoyable.

  26. ok… well, as far as i know, dry humour is summed up pretty well by House… Hugh Laurie (British actor affiliated with other dry humour acts, eg Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster)… but lets not forget others such as Jack Dee, probably the Atacama of dry comedy… Stephen Fry is also a very good dry comedian, but has opted for a more tongue-in-cheek, innuent comedy in QI and other recent material… (read his auto-biography for clearer examples of dry humour)… Also Steve White is probably the best example of American dry humor… His jokes are silly in substance, but delivered with such nonchalant that you start off by imagining something far more serious… eg. “We covered my dog in spot cream… now he’s disappeared” is a ridiculous and almost infantile joke… but is delivered with such serious concern for the well-being of the dog, that the punchline takes moments for the audience to follow…

    In conclusion, delivery is as important as substance, and a dry joke can generally be judged as reaching an optimum time between delivery and the amount of time the audience takes to react… The same with almost all other types of humour. It just tags on the end of the continuum of comedy styles that can be encountered. As it is according to the prophecy.

  27. So it can be said in the least then, that dry humour consists of witty remarks or replys based on quick observations and delivered with a stoic visage.

    Correct or no?

  28. i got this of a website of dry humourious jokes. i pesonally think its a great excample of dry houmor? and what the heck did that anonymous person mean?
    A blind man is seeking employment at a lumber yard as a salesmen.
    The manager who is interviewing the man tells him that he is more than qualified for the position other than the fact that in order to sell the lumber he would have to see it to know the size and kind of wood he was selling.

    “No” replied the blind man, ” I do not have to see it, all I have to do is smell it”.He then asked the manager to test him on this by placing any size and type of lumber he wanted on his desk and without touching it he would identify it.

    The manager agreed and placed a 8 Ft x 2in x 4 in piece of pine on his desk.

    The blind man smelled it once and correctly indentified it as a 8 ft. x 2in x 4in piece of pine.

    The manager then tested him with a 4ft x 4in x 4in piece of oak.

    Immediately the blind man identified it as a 4ft x 4in x4in piece of oak.

    Thinking he could trick the blind man, the manager got his secretary to strip and lay naked on the desk.

    The blind man smelled her up and down, then up and down again. Scratching his head he said, “You almost fooled me, but that’s a shit house door off of a fishing boat.”

  29. I wouldn’t consider the something fishy joke is dry humour at all.

    The most accurate definition I’ve seen here is the Hugh Lawrie House example about the patient being tired from being in a coma.

    Dry humour is almost a test of knowledge, intellect or familiarity with the person. Those without “domain knowledge” may think the remark is a serious one, those with “domain knowledge” will know it is obviously incorrect and find it amusing.

    And yes, it is the delivery that is important. In the example, Hugh would not have laughed, but made it seem like a normal statement. This differs from sarcasm where the tone or expression may be used to indicate that the remark is a joke.

    It would thus normally be delivered “dead-pan”, but dead-pan isn’t necessarily dry, since you could say something that is obviously a joke, but with a dead-pan face to make it even funnier.

    Dry humour can even be used to take the piss/mickey/make a joke about someone who is present, without them realising, and only the others in the group (who may know you better) knowing you are making the joke.

    Now, I must get back to work, I work as a toddler’s birthday party entertainer, so I need to go and get some fuel for my flame-thrower.

  30. I would not agree with Donn’s examples at all. I think Colin had a great example in the beginning. House, as mentioned, is another good example of dry humour. I also think The Far Side has a lot of nice dry humour, though it is often perhaps more absurd than dry.

    Dry humour is partly about being clever, sometimes perhaps overly so, and to some degree about being subtle. It’s also about keeping a somewhat unexcited tone – you can’t start laughing at what you said, for instance. While dry humour usually doesn’t jump out and say “hey look at me, I’m witty”, you would rarely miss the fact that there was some kind of (attempt at) humour taking place.

    One example from The Far Side that I would consider dry is a frame where a woman has lifted the cushions out of a sofa, and there is a man (supposedly her husband) lying there, sort of “flatted out”, and she says something like:

    “Oh, so here’s where you been all these weeks. And look, there is my comb too.”

  31. Mr. Perfect said on October 26th, 2006 at 3:04 am :

    Here is an e-mail I sent to a woman that complained that I acted too serious in the past. She said that I have a dry sense of humor.

    The e-mail:

    I was serious with you because I had to be. If I wasn’t, you would have been even more obnoxious and I’m not above smacking the hell out of a woman.

    “Women are like children.” – Mr. Perfect

    This is the perfect example of dry, and it’s brilliant. The joke is that he beats children. I wouldn’t consider sarcastic insults dry, there’s an a-ha factor to dry. An irony, or an expansion as if the beginning of the conversation was a setup, even though it usually isn’t (it’s usually part of a serious narative). To me, dry humor is a kind of stepping into the character of a person who says something that seems so rediculous, that it’s hard to believe another human being could actually carry that opinion. Dry humor relies on the listeners intelligence and faith that no rational human being would say such tripe seriously… like “I eat babies” but funny, and in some way relevant to the conversation.

  32. I take dry humor to require a certain amount of contextual knowledge. Of the dry examples above, one would need to know that a person in a coma is unconscious and not sleeping, that crap is used as both a description of poo and a curse word, etc. It doesn’t have to be outlandishly obvious like eating babies, and it doesn’t have to be said without emotions, it just has to require some thought.

    Those without the contextual knowledge might not notice it at all or might feel picked on because they realize a joke was said but they don’t get it, so they assume the joke was making fun of them. Sometimes it is, but it doesn’t have to be. An example of a dry sense of humor that picks on someone might be:

    A well-educated and qualified scientist spends his days researching high-level threats for the CIA. On the weekend, his wife volunteers him to help at the local library. A patron comes in and asks him for help finding a book with a particular obscure quote in it. After an hour of helping the patron who doesn’t seem to be giving up hope, they’ve exchanged some civilities. The patron knows that he is a “researcher” and he knows that the quote is going to be used in a casual letter to a friend, so the person wants to be sure to cite it correctly. The scientist is beyond frustrated with the man’s relentlessness but remains pleasant. After another hour passes with no luck, the patron starts apologizing for how much of the man’s time has been dedicated to the search for the book. The man warmly responds, “That’s what I’m trained to do!”

    And that’s dry humor. The man isn’t genuinely happy to have spent the last two hours chasing rabbits. If his wife overheard him, she would give him a disapproving look or hide her face as she chuckled. She knows he is “trained” to research issues of life and death importance–thus he equates the man’s search to a life and death issue which it obviously isn’t–and that he was making a dry joke at the patron’s expense. The patron will most likely never realize a joke was made because he’s lacking the context of his request being stupid, his insistence being frustrating, and what the researcher’s training and expertise is in.

  33. I like “Oh good one, I almost missed it”s definition.
    Think it fits quite well

    “Basically – Dry Humour is a comment that sounds like a continuation of the conversation or someones afterthought, and sounds completely serious (pan faced as well), and it is often said in such a way that people do not spot the humour.”

    I do this rather a lot, but never knew my humor would be classified as dry. It’s humor that is interwoven, artfully blended in, and yes of course, subtle. For me it often comes up as little tag bits, in the middle of conversation, answers to questions, side comments, casual remarks, or occasionally I don’t even know I’m making the joke until half way through saying it. People have to be listening well to catch it, and there’s usually a pause, and then small appreciation or big laughter or a smirk, as I do a wry little smile. I’m often taken aback by people who notice it and laugh a lot, as I usually remain in a kind of seriousness…

    I know it’s not a good example, but my counselor recently told me that I have a dry sense of humor, but the only thing like that I remember saying was that she asked me, “well, when do you think this (anxiety etc.) all began?” and I sat there for a few seconds puzzled as how to respond, and said, “do you mean a week ago, or since I started college?” (I’m a senior), and she just laughed. Bah I don’t know. Context is something to be desired on the internet.

    I agree though that it is one of the best kinds of humor around.

  34. Dry humor is the oppisite of wet humor.Such as:
    Bob:You are like a fountain of non-squiters.
    Susan:You are like a fountain of stupid.

    Well,that’s what I do,anyway.Everybody says I have a dry sense of humor.My version titled : Lizumor.Ooh.That would make a good shoe or cereal brand.^^
    I agree: ‘People have to be listening well to catch it, and there’s usually a pause… I’m often taken aback by people who notice it and laugh a lot,’ It’s a way to see if people are sponges or bones.
    Also to see who’s smart.^^

  35. Is this considered as a dry humour?

    Person A and B were walking pass a lady.
    Person A: That woman looked like she cried all day
    Person B: She looked like she just looked in a mirror

  36. Stranger, it depends on context, delivery, and intent, all of which are fairly difficult to determine just from those three lines you provided, although people familiar with that joke situation would probably label it as dry.

  37. Dry humour is called just that because you say it without any “funny” emotions, you tell the so called joke ‘dry’.

    Person 1: Look what John’s doing! He’s gone mental!
    Person 2: (with a serious face):Maybe he got inspired by you then.

  38. Or it can be humour that isn’t the kind that makes you laugh out like Friends but humour that’s “so pathetic it’s fun” (like The Office)

  39. Hey I have an example of dry humor. Paula said, “We’re not going to Bojangles [the chicken place] for lunch today. Gimb said, “I didn’t want to eat that little mouse, anyways.” (Joking on the mouse, Mr. Bojangles, on The Green Mile.) Then Jeff said, “You know his dog up and died.” Joking on the song, Mr. Bojangles. Jeff’s joke is the dry one.

  40. i got tired of reading people’s dumb ideas halfway down. why don’t any of you just grab a dictionary or something. or look on wikipedia, you don’t even need to leave the chair you’re in now. instead of everyone having their own “well i think it means.. or, well there’s a lot of different meanings..” no there aren’t. idiotsss. everyone who talked about being about the delivery is spot on. it has nothing to do with the context. at all. so if you don’t know, don’t post saying you know, instead take the 5 minutes to research it before opening your dumb mouth. dry humor is humor said without showing emotion, as if it’s normal conversation. unless you know the person well enough or unless it’s a stand-up act and you know it’s supposed to be comedy, you might not always be able to tell, like one person mentioned. check out steven wright. friends and seinfeld are considered to be dry humor. but most of all, research it yourselves instead of fueling this pointless argument.

  41. p.s.

    so all of you that put your “examples” on here, like the one above my post. quit. please. your example isn’t an example of dry humor unless we see you doing it and see that there’s no change of emotion in you when you deliver it. that is dry humor. don’t believe me? freakin look it up. tards.

  42. steven wright THANK YOU! I love that guy!

    Yesterday I parked my car in a tow-away zone…when I came back the entire area was missing…

    For a while I didn’t have a car…I had a helicopter…no place to park it, so I just tied it to a lamp post and left it running… [slow glance upward]

    This is my impression of a bowling ball…[drags the mike along the floor, then lifts it]…gutter…

    There’s a pizza place near where I live that sells only slices… in the back you can see a guy tossing a triangle in the air…

    I had to stop driving my car for a while…the tires got dizzy…

    I recently moved into a new apartment, and there was this switch on the wall that didn’t do anything…so anytime I had nothing to do, I’d just flick that switch up and down…up and down…up and down….Then one day I got a letter from a woman in Germany…it just said, “Cut it out.”

    I put instant coffee in my microwave oven and almost went back in time.

    I spilled spot remover on my dog and now he’s gone.

    “The Stones, I love the Stones. I watch them whenever I can. Fred, Barney..”

    “My friend Winnie is a procrastinator. He didn’t get his birth mark til he was eight years old.”

    “I don’t have to walk my dog anymore. I walked him all at once. He was fun when he was a puppy. I named him Stay. When I’d call him I’d say C’mere Stay C’mere Stay and he’d go like this..(FILL IN THE MOVEMENT YOURSELF). He’s a lot smarter than that now. Now when I call him he just ignores me and keeps on typing.”

    “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

    “I saw a man with a wooden leg, and a real foot.”

    “I was in a job interview and I opened a book and started reading. Then I said to the guy ‘Let me ask you a question. If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?’ He said ‘I don’t know’. I said ‘I don’t want your job’.”

    “When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.’

    “I lost a button hole today.”


  43. I read through all this , and am I any more educated ? NOT
    I am told I have a dry sense of humor, because I am clever in thought. Where most with the opposite , think the 3 stooges are funny. Sorry stooges fans, but they are not funny …..LOL

  44. Ok, I am soooo happy I found this website. my manager always says i have “dru humor” and I get it now.

    for example: this something I say to people, to their face, all the time, like its no joke. Im dead serious when I say it and everyone laugh. let me paint the picture.

    Someone is talking to you face to face about a problem that they are having. (lets say they were having a problem with staying awake at work) I said this with a str8 face like I was Dead SERIOUS “O ok, well I know of something that might help. Get in your car, get on 95 South, right when u get half way across the bridge, pull over, get out of the car and Jump Off ther bridge. Problem solved.” i say that and people crack up. they never expect it. its baisically like a Geico commercial.

    wow i like this dry humor thing. thanks!

  45. a dry sense of humor is all about about quickness and randomness yet making it seem like u didnt mean to be funny i.e jus keeping a streyt face and acting like the random and stupid thing you jus said or did counsides with the moment however to everyone else it will stand out. keeping urself normal is what makes it dry humor as u make it emotionless humor

  46. Sorry I just have to post that the best joke on this Dry humour came from Lizzy

    “Dry humor is the oppisite of wet humor.”

    Please someone tell me that isn’t funny

    And sorry I aint making fun I just found it extremly humourous.

    Dry humour is a humour that the target shouldnt understand because it is beyond his intellect yet the audience should understand it and so get amusement from it. Me and one of my freinds are considered dry humoured as we say certain things to people that we know they wont understand but the freind does.

    Thanks for the amusment Jam

  47. i first learned of ‘dry humor’ in the ninth grade during geography class.

    my teacher decided to have a trivia game, where each team (girls vs boys) tries to earn points. anyway, fast forward, my team (girls, shush) loses. i walk over to the black board where the points were written and i nonchalantly, in all seriousness, scribble a negative sign in front of the boys team’s points so that they had -1000 points.

    my teacher chuckles at my gesture and tells me that i have a dry sense of humor. i look at him, with a deadpan stare and ask, “as opposed to a wet sense of humor?” he laughs again. now keep in mind, i was only thirteen years old, so i had no effin’ idea what he was talking about. i mean, people have always laughed when i tell them something serious and sometimes — I AM BEING SERIOUS. but most of the time, i’m not really.

    i remember one time in ninth grade science class, whilst standing for the national anthem (did anyone else do that shit?), the boy in front of me turns around and asks me, seriously, “why is your face always so emotionless?” what. the. fuck. kind. of. question. is. that. obviously, this kid didn’t know how to make friends (he was more invested in reading books on how to become a billionaire like bill gates). i pretty much stare at him without blinking until he turned to face the front, while his seat buddy was giggling.

  48. “Dry humor is the oppisite of wet humor.”
    -made my day =)
    dry humor is like watching dr. house..really good show

  49. “Dry humor is the oppisite of wet humor.”
    -made my day =)
    dry humor is like watching dr. house..really good show

  50. Donn, considering this is an article about humour, you seem to be not so humourous yourself. So before you start lecturing others about humour, I suggest you find out for yourself what it actually is. And for god’s sake, if you didnt get that joke at the top of the page you must be thick.

    Just so you know, that was not dry humour, that was me insulting you. Ha.

  51. if any of you want to see the best form of dry humour i suggest you check up jack dee or jimmy carr on you tube

  52. I agree with this definition:

    # YourMother Says:
    March 18th, 2008 at 1:23 am

    To me, dry humor is a combination of irony, understatement, subtext, and deadpan delivery.

    Some of the examples people have given of when they have said something dry or deadpan are about as funny as an incisive observation humorously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing.

  53. Here’s a dry humor joke I once said to my friend…

    So my friend was explaining to me how he ran into someone he knew but was telling me every single unnecessary detail about it..and after he was done explaining I said, “Well that’s a minute of my life I’ll never get back!”

    He, of course, got mad at me for saying that and later when we went to his house told his mom what I said and she started laughing up and said she loved my dry humor..

    He obviously didn’t know I was telling a dry humor joke =]

  54. Since I have the advantage of anonymity in posting this, I’ll share an example of my dry humor.

    I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and have had a good deal of trouble staying sober, a fact known to just about anyone who knows me. One day at a meeting, the topic leader, as is more or less customary, says “Before we begin, does anyone have anything they need to share that is threatening their sobriety?”

    In a flat tone, during what happened to be a quieter moment than I expected, I said “No more than usual”. The whole room cracked up.

  55. Donny: Ow my head. I got brain-freeze from the Icy.

    Kurt: Well, one requires to have a brain first. That’s something you don’t have to worry about.

  56. I came to this thread from Answers.com. You guys are all American right? There seems to be a lot of confusion and I’m afraid I don’t find any of the examples, apart from those from Steven Wright, particularly amusing.

    Tom’s right (if a little intemperate): grab a dictionary: the simple answer is the best: it’s a joke made with a straight face. It doesn’t telegraph that it’s a joke and requires the audience to discern that it’s funny.

    So dry humour is usually ironic; but it’s not sarcastic at all (and let’s hope this doesn’t lead to a whole other discussion about the difference between irony and sarcasm). It may be that the teller means the opposite of what they say, but it’s not done to be cruel or wound the listener because it really is intended as a joke. If a listener doesn’t get the humour they’ll simply be bewildered and usually ask: “Are you serious?”

    It can be subtle in that it makes a reference that requires the listener to understand the context, but not necessarily (Mitch Hedburg and Stephen Wright being good examples: their comedy relies on the absurd, and their schtick is to say very funny things with a completely straight face, but the joke’s pretty obvious even to people who don’t get makes dry humour dry)

    So to recap: dry humour is a joke said with a straight face.

    There are actually some very good examples of dry American comedy. Shows like “Friends” are not good examples because they use a laugh track to signal to viewers that a joke’s been made. Try “Arrested Development”, a show that got cancelled because most of the TV viewing population just didn’t get the jokes.

    For dry humour in recent American movies, check out “Charlie Wilson’s War”.

    Hope this helps. But if you need dry humour explained then you just don’t get what makes it humourous, and if you think you have a dry sense of humour but you’re not sure, then the odds are you don’t.

  57. Ah, for the sake of extending human understanding and complying with Donn’s previous requests for actual examples, here’s one I hope fits the bill:

    Person A: “I’m a Virgo, what’s your star sign?”
    Person B (with a completely straight face): “Us Taureans don’t believe in that astrology crap.”

    Now note there is no sarcasm. Person B is not putting the other person down because B is a completely preposterous statement which B wants Person A to laugh at. The joke is irony because it is self-referential: B is saying something that’s absurd. But because B is withholding the visual “boom boom” cues many people need to differentiate between what is serious and what is a joke there’s a chance A might think B honestly holds such an absurd position and think B is being insulting. If A responds with a long angry lecture about B not being so dismissive of other’s beliefs in star signs then A does not get dry humour and B will not bother asking A out on a date.

    God, explaining humour really is a chore.

  58. I have an example of dry humor I used on a few friends.

    Same joke, different setting.

    Scenario: My friend and I watching TV and we see a snake being shown on like Animal Planet. We see the keeper messing around with it. So I say my friend, “That is something I don’t fuck with”

    He replies, “What? Rattle snakes?”

    ME: “yea, and condoms too”

    I said this straight faced and looking eye to eye to him to see his reaction. He chuckled but he already knew me well as that is my sense of humor.

    Same joke ~ BUT different scene in a bar with an aquaitance guy I met thru friends that I know as a regular.

    We were talking about UFC fighting and mentioned that he wouldn’t fuck with so-&-so. So I replied with a “yea, he is 1 of two things I wouldn’t fuck with”

    Obviously this sets up with the “What’s the other” question. (which def. happened)

    So I said straight poker face, “I wouldn’t fuck with condoms”

    He had to digest it and think about it for a second or 2 before blowing up in laughter.

  59. In my part of the world (Singapore), I believe dry humour is known more commonly in the form of “cold jokes”, probably as a result from being translated from mandarin, where it’s called “leng xiao hua” (literally “cold joke”).

    I’ve been told by many groups of people — be it those I have known for most my life (family and close friends, or those I’ve known for less (associates and colleagues of mine from temporary jobs I’ve worked in) — that I’ve got a dry sense of humour, or that my jokes are “very cold”.

    A recurring theme that I get a lot when I receive comments on my type of humour is that of puns. I believe that puns are one of the most basic forms the application of dry humour, especially as it complements telling the joke with a straight-face (another recurring theme) so well.

    Probably another aspect that I’ve found with regards to dry humour is that it is often very visual. If you look at most of the examples of jokes that are considered “dry”, you’ll notice that many of them have pretty strong visuals, in the sense that the first part of the joke often has to do with something very specific, while the second part (or the punchline) has to do with something else altogether (a mixture of imagery, puns, and plain old joke syntax*).

    *Joke syntax is often just building up expectations, and tearing those expectations to pieces in the form of a punchline.

  60. Ricky Fulton was a fantastic example of a comedian who knows how to use dry humour, especially with his character the Rev. I.M. Jolly. I think the keys are deadpanning while saying something cuttingly or incisively humourous. It’s not an obvious joke as in it that isnt ‘hey here’s a joke and a punchline!’. Its more, here’s a statement and something which may be seen as an aside to some but is actually a witticism and pertains to the core of the issue. Its about context and subtext and secretly ripping someone or something a new arsehole. It has been said that I have a very dry humour… its something i take secret pride in.

  61. I was on the Street one day, and some guy waved at me and he came up to me and said “im sorry, i thought you were someone else” i said “I am.”
    -Demetri Martin. great comedian i think he’ll be a good example of dry comedy. also, that show The Office starring Steve Carrell is a great example of dry comedy

  62. Heya. Great site. I can associate with what Donn is saying. In this part of the world – Singapore – we call it “slime-ing”. Subtle, sarcastic and funny to the people who are “in the know”, and who understand the nuances of what was said. But in all appearances, look like a serious statement or could be passed off as one.

  63. I agree with Check it in that The Office is a fantastic example of dry humor. And puns are the best examples ever. Though it’s rather hard to give a real definition to dry humor, I think it can be easy to point out with most people, when there is a long pause after the joke is told, where the joker and the jokee stare at each other. It is sometime accompanied by purposely fake and forced laughter.

  64. I have this joke book from the early 60s… the driest thing I have ever layed eyes on.
    Here’s a bit:
    Slim: What are you going to do on your vacation?
    Jim: I’m going on a Roman holiday.
    Slim: What’s that?
    Jim: I’ll go Roman’ around the country.


    Wife: My mother won’t stay in this house until we get rid of the mice.
    Husband: Excuse me.
    Wife: Where are you going?
    Husband: To get rid of the cat.

    ha! ha ha… ha…… hm.

  65. I agree with Donn. Dry humour works best with puns and seemingly out-of-place choice of words. The very first dry joke on this site (They greased up his burns. Now he’s going downhill fast.) was probably the driest and it really made me crack up.

    I was told many times to have a dry sense of humour.
    The first time was when I explained to a friend that schools in our home country start becoming more similar to American schools because students seem to form groups only with people sharing the same intesrests.
    I was like:

    “And then there are the role-players, but they don’t play an important role yet.”

    and my friend simply burst out laughing.

    Second time was not much later at my grandparents’.
    My grandmother complained that she could have become a professor of chemistry if she wouldn’t have decided to keep and give birth to my mother. My answer was:

    “I would think breeding two generations of women being smart enough to become professors is a much better result.”

    Yet, after I said it I was glad they found it funny.

  66. After reading all this, I have two words to describe what I believe is a great example of dry humor:

    South Park.

  67. haha thats a perfect example of dry comedy about the brother with the burns in the hospital.(As long as it is said DRY) and as for those who are trying to ‘tell dry jokes’ that is very difficult in fact, especially when you are sitting alone at the computer :P. Some forms of humor translates well over text, dry is not one of them. You need to be in person to fully appreciate the talents of a true emotionless joker. Many times I will have to explain after a conversation, that I was just kidding about half of the time. Its just the way some people are. People who don’t understand haven’t met one. Dry comedians are usually intelligent, observant people who are joking most of the time, whether anybody but them realizes it or not. It’s not a hilarious slap-stick kind of funny where someone can stand on stage night after night doing the same routine and gags, its best derived from everyday conversation.
    its like…
    Modern Warfare is to Guerrilla fighting
    as 90% of comedy is to Dry Humor. its like guerrilla humor.
    and again those who try and type examples, although some are fairly good ex’s of dry humor most of them are just wack.
    Also, dry humor can clearly be associated with early comedians originating from western and central parts of Europe, pre-dating the industrial revolution. As the performers traveled from area to area doing their shows, the size of their convoy’s on windy summer days, would bring up great clouds of dust, which the locals would sometimes think were the annual ‘wraths-drae’ literally meaning “The Dry Wrath” or what people call dust-storms today. Initially taken as a threat, the towns people would cry out in uproarious laughter once they saw the performs pull into sight often referred to as ‘The first joke of the performance’ usually falling on April 1st.
    Sourced from wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/wraths-drei-and-early eurpoean-comedians.html#

  68. Dear Mr. Thomas,

    “i got tired of reading people’s dumb ideas halfway down. why don’t any of you just grab a dictionary or something. or look on wikipedia, you don’t even need to leave the chair you’re in now. instead of everyone having their own “well i think it means.. or, well there’s a lot of different meanings..” no there aren’t. idiotsss. everyone who talked about being about the delivery is spot on. it has nothing to do with the context. at all.”

    I read your above opinion, and I’m afraid that although I am humbled at your valuable opinion–I must disagree with one point, (actually, the only point I could extract.)


    (although I am terribly humbled at your valuable insights….as well as your fine example of using the word idiot with multIple s’s, as a way of describing many individuals. I have always stuck to using only one ‘s’ for plural words…..I will remember in future to use one s per individual as you do,

    IE: idiotsssss would be, I am assuming, 5 individuals.

    I also admire your respect in general of people, and will remember to hold your own shining example as my high ideal to aim for. tysvm.

    However, I would like to, if I may…respectfully disagree with your comment? There is, yes…something to do with content, in dry humor….


    Kindest regards,

  69. I would also like to clear up the idea that ALL BRITISH HUMOR IS NOT DRY.

    For example, if you want to understand what dry humor is….BENNY HILL IS A BRITISH COMEDY. IT IS NOT DRY HUMOR. Therefore don’t rely on all British humor, to understand dry humor.

    Thank you, and I’m done.

  70. I was always told I have a dry sense of humor. I never knew what they meant. So finally, one day, I asked one of my accusers what dry humor was, he replied, “well, they’re jokes, their just not funny.”

  71. I just finished reading an article by David Berry. It was hilarious, and reminded me that my favorite comedians have a dry sense of humor, or “dead pan”, spoken matter-factly, with no change in facial expression, and the funny part sneaks up on you. In his article, he was relating his experience in getting a colonoscopy. He explained he had to mix a powdered medicine with 1 litre of water and drink it the night before his procedure. He then said, “and.. for those of you who aren’t familiar with the metric system, a litre is 32 gallons..” (I cracked up right then and there, uncontrollably!.. the thought of drinking 32 gallons of liquid, instead of approximately 1 gallon, ONLY ONE GALLON, was hilarious!! : ) ) I immediately forwarded the article to a friend and when I typed “dry humor”, it automatically highlighted itself, and that’s how I got to this site! I will be bookmarking this, and checking in with you from time to time. A dry sense of humor is definitely a compliment, I give my highest kudos to!

  72. Oh.. also.. most people have to be at least 10 years old to understand dry humor, because some of it is “over the heads” of children.

  73. My jokes usually fly right over the heads of my crowds and I’d have to say something like “pardon the pun” and some other hint to give away that a joke grew wings and was soaring above. I have on several occasions been told that my sense of humour is very dry and been puzzled as I know dry humour to be more hurtful and not diluted in any way. I am slowly learning that different cultures have different meanings for terms that we grow up hearing and using so I’m leaving the definition as having a strict cultural governing that is why some jokes will not be accepted around certain people. like beauty comedy is in the eye of the beholder and the length of this controversial definition portrays exactly this.

  74. A dry sense of humour has everything to do with the delivery. This is not a joke but a situation where a dry joke was used,
    I was in a car with 2 of my friends. We were talking about first impressions of 3 of our other friends. Not a serious chat but just normal talk.
    We were saying John looks like a businessman whose business is doing very well.
    Aaron looks like an Oxbridge graduate with a decent job.
    Peter looks like a drug dealer whose product isn’t selling well.
    Everyone laughed because If you know all 3, John is always impacably dressed,Aaron where glasses but is very smart and Peter is always wearing shabby clothes like addidas tracksuit, etc.

    Dry sense of humour almost always has some truth to it, or its just the complete opposite.

    Then to make it worse said looks like a drug dealer who smoke his own dope. And has debt to his supplier.
    And now Peter looks like a drug dealer who smokes his dope because its not selling and is indebted to his supplier.
    This saiid with a serious face is too out there and unbelievable.

  75. These are comedians that use dry humor in their act: Steven Wright, Andy Kaufman, Alan Rickman (every Character he plays performs dry humor) and John Cleese.
    Dry humor consists of portraying a joke without emotion or intending to make a joke. Jim Carey is not a dry humorist all his comedy consist of body and facial jesters’ but more than that his stuff is meant to make everyone laugh. Andy Kaufman on the other hand does not intend to make everyone laugh. Example of dry humor is him ready The Great Gatsby in front of hundreds of people leaving people confused and sometimes frustrated. Alan Rickman’s Character (Professor Severus Snape) when he says something off kilter but puts a smile on your face you have just encountered dry humor.

  76. Unfortunately for the readers of this thread and for the time you spent classifying “Dry Humour” Donn you failed miserably. Dry Humour is a method of delivering a joke or punchline whereby the author appears to be serious.


    “Remember when you were younger and you bought new trainers, I used to sleep with them. After 3 weeks later they were ruined! Now I buy skis.”


    As I am a valeter I will set the scene

    man drives onto forecourt and approaches a valeter working on a car and explanes that he has scratched the door of a hire car which must be returned this afternoon and ask if the scratch can be removed?

    Yes says the valeter I will do it while you wait.
    after a few minutes the valeter enters the reception area and says all sorted mate thats £10.

    CUSTOMER That was quick what did you do?

    VALETER I put a bigger scratch in the other side so they wouldnt notice the small one.

    The customer couldnt see the funny side

    Said with a straight seriouse face


    Of course this is only a joke and no property was damaged

  78. Another example of dry humour, and indeed deadpan humour (which is the delivery of a joke without the facial expressions or gestures that normally accompany a joke) is in the early scenes of Joss Whedon’s Serenity.

    Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburn: This landing is gonna get pretty interesting.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Define “interesting”.
    Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburn: [deadpan] Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die?

  79. Though I must add that it is harder to carry off wit, sarcasm, or dry humour via words on the internet. In order to fully grasp dry humour, its an idea to watch any comedians, or movies that feature dry humour. Bill Murray is an example.

  80. mitch hedberg… classic comedian who uses dry humour… “I use to do drugs. I still do them, but I use to do them also” ~ mitch hedberg

  81. I think I’m a person of dry humor. Whenever I say my opinion about a certain thing, (with a little sarcasm) my friends will just laugh and I can’t get the sense out of it 😀

  82. I believe one of the best examples of dry humour can be seen in any of Canadian comedian Steven Wright’s stand up shows.

    “I bought an ant farm. I have no idea where to get get tractors that small?”

    “I bought a cordless extention cord.”

    “I bought a decaffinated coffee table. You can’t even tell the difference.”

  83. I dont know if this considered dry humor but one day i was talking to this girl in my class and we were talking about grades on a test. She said that she got a 44. Then i said thats still a good grade but i knew it wasnt but i said it seriosly. She thought i was being sarcastic but was trying to be nice. I usally get good grades. And i beleive she knows that so is that considered dry humor. Because I have a family of jokesters and teasers so i see different types of humor. Exspecially when they joke about my mum.

  84. Dry Humour:

    Hawk Eye on Mash
    Black Adder on Black Adder
    Anything Terry Pratchet
    Johnny Depp, Pirate, Vampire, Willy Wonka..etc.

    If you’d push the envelope in a novel, even Spock.

  85. Dry Humor is essentially the “sneak up on ya” type of joke; the most common American example which every child learns and thinks is diabolically wicked when (s)he hears it the first time is that perennial chestnut “Aside from THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”, a joke which I am sure dates back to April 1865, as there have always been sick jokers. Groucho Marx, “I don’t know what I’d do without you– but I’d rather.” Mae West, “I used to be pure as the driven snow– but I drifted…” What they all have in common is that they take something you are likely to hear and pull the rug out with a quick play on words, or as with Mary Todd Lincoln, asking a banal question in a clearly-inappropriate situation. They don’t require a long set-up and having to visualize a comic situation. My favorite is the Lakota boy joke: “Father, how do Indians get their names?” “Why do you ask, Buffalo Chips?”
    So that’s MY definition of dry humor– and anyone who disagrees is all wet, ba- doom-tish!

  86. I interpret Dry as the delivery and an unexpected ending. It doesn’t have to be ‘sarcastic’. The best seems to come from understatement, contrary to expectation and irony.

    So I shall wane lyrical if you don’t mind.

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