Humor has been with us since the olden days, and in fact, it is one of the things that sets us apart from other animals and mammals. Mankind knows how to interact and make fun of weird things. We revel in this, and it is what makes these tiny moments in our life special. The very basic meaning of humor is the quality of being amusing or being comical. It is usually expressed in speech or in written form, such as literature. So, what is dry humor?
Now, as you can imagine, we have put quite a bit of research into humor, and have categorized it into several different branches. For instance, there’s anecdotal humor, which often involves the telling of personal stories (can be true or untrue) to generate a laugh.
If you talk to a few people and ask them a small question about the first quality they look for in a partner, a vast majority is probably going to come up to you and say “a good sense of humor.” That’s because humor makes even the toughest of times easy and allows you to live life to the fullest. A person who doesn’t have a good sense of humor is one that you are always going to have trouble with.
Humorous people are approachable and easier to deal with, and more importantly, they come off as much more friendly. In this article, we shall focus on one of the several categories of humor: dry humor. Often known as deadpan humor, dry humor is the deliberate display of zero emotions and complete neutrality to deliver a comedic response to something that might be completely ridiculous. What is a dry sense of humor? Simply put, it’s the ability of a person to crack jokes while keeping a very straight face, often saying ridiculous things or making comments on something that the other person might have said.
Examples of Dry Humor
Before we go further, it is best to provide a few examples of dry or deadpan humor so that you can get a better understanding of what it really is. Sarcasm and deadpan comedy have been used for hundreds of years, and it is simply the over-exaggeration of a standard line, repeated with little to no expression so as to get the desired effect.
There is a very famous joke about the cowboy and his Bible. The story goes that a cowboy loses his Bible while he was out mending fences on his ranch. Disappointed, he goes back home. Then, a few weeks later, a cow comes up to him with the Bible held firmly in its mouth. At first, the cowboy does a double take. Then, he pulls his beloved book from the cow’s mouth and exclaims, “It’s a miracle!”
The cow just rolls its eyes and says, “Not really, your name is written inside the cover.”
It might not seem funny to some people when you read it, but the method of delivery is what sets deadpan humor apart from the rest. You need to deliver it with a very serious tone. Many also couple deadpan comedy with sarcasm to achieve the desired effect.
There have been many comedians in the past who have been regarded as champions of deadpan comedy and have become incredibly popular. One of the most popular comedians who really took deadpan comedy to the next level was Mitch Hedberg. Mitch Hedberg rose to fame during the 90s and the 00s, and he became really popular for his laconic method of delivery. He would often keep his eyes down, or sometimes hide them behind a pair of sunglasses.
Oftentimes, he would deliver punch lines and then wait a few beats to see if the audience catches up. In most cases, they did. It soon became his signature style, and he was making people laugh until the day he died. In many ways, Hedberg made use of his wit to commentate on economics, people, identity, relationships, and a lot more. For instance, one of his most iconic jokes was delivered in his classic, straight-faced demeanor.
He took to the stage, and said, “When I was a boy, I would lay in my twin sized bed and wonder where my brother was.”
Again, it might seem simple at first glance, but the manner in which it was delivered made it absolutely hilarious. There are several other comedians as well who have mastered this style of comedy. For instance, Demetri Martin and Mike Birbiglia are both incredibly popular deadpan comedians that usually have sold out shows all year round.
Examples in Modern Culture
There are plenty of examples in modern culture where deadpan comedy is being used. For instance, one of the most iconic TV series of all time, Friends, has a character who uses sarcasm and deadpan comedy to the fullest to provide comic relief to the audience. Chandler Bing, arguably the most popular Friends character and loved by all, was written meticulously to have a witty answer or comment in almost every situation.
It is one of the main reasons why his character is so likeable. Keep in mind that deadpan comedy, or dry humor, doesn’t just have to be a style of humor. It is often used as a tactic in short intervals, or it can be stretched throughout a person’s career. Another very popular example in modern culture is that of The Office.
Featuring an ensemble cast and an eccentric performance by Steve Carrell, who plays the “boss” in The Office, the show perfectly encapsulates what deadpan comedy is all about. In many of the episodes, the lines are delivered with such seriousness that you begin to question the style of comedy itself. However, then it dawns on you what the cast is talking about, and that’s what makes the show so hilarious. Even today, The Office is one of the most-watched TV shows, despite having ended quite a while back.
Another example is that of Parks and Recreation, the TV show that follows the same mockumentary style as shown in The Office. One of the main characters, Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman), is an employee who constantly delivers deadpan jokes and keeps the audience enthralled.
How Do You Learn it?
The simplest way to learn deadpan comedy is to not think about it. Just look for situations or topics that you can relate with as a kid, and then pass a comment on it. Virtually anything can be turned into deadpan comedy as long as it’s delivered in the right manner.
However, you need to know your audience as well. For instance, if you are sitting in a group of adults who are probably quite serious, delivering deadpan jokes is likely to land you in hot water. It’s always important for you to know your audience before you start commenting or firing off jokes on your own. These are just a few important things that you should know about dry humor and how you can learn it too!