Lesson idea Language for ... jokes and humour | Stop Pesten NU


Lesson idea 408 Language for ... jokes and humour

Ga in gesprek met leerlingen (Age: Adult / Young adult) over grapjes, humor en taal. Duur: 45–60 minutes. 

Preview lessonmaterial and audio

Warmer - Below are the names of some types of comedy found on TV. Match up the names on the left, to their descriptions on the right.

  1. Sitcom a) Humour that is based on physical actions such as people hitting each other or falling over, rather than on the clever use of language. Clowns, Mr Bean and Laurel and Hardy are examples of this.
  2. Satire b) A series about a particular group of characters who deal with situations in a humorous way. An example is the US show, Friends.
  3. Slapstick comedy c) A story that deals in a humorous way with unpleasant aspects of life such as illness and death.
  4. Standup comedy d) A show which uses humour to criticize someone or something and make them seem silly. An example is the British panel show Have I Got News For You which makes fun of the weeks’ events in the news.
  5. Black comedy e) A comedian that tells jokes on a stage in front of an audience.



A: Yes. It’s not exactly hilarious though!

B: I’m trying to show you how the language influences our humour. We can even play with grammar to produce double meanings. One of my favourites is the newspaper headline ‘Police found drunk in shop window’. If ‘found’ is past simple, it means they discovered a drunk person in the shop window. If it’s a past participle, it means the police themselves were drunk. It wasn’t an intentional joke though!

A: Right, but apart from wordplay, what are some other features of British humour?

B: Well, I think we like to laugh at ourselves and, in general, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I mean, I’m pretty pleased with myself. I bought a jigsaw puzzle that said ‘three to five years’ on the box. I finished it in three months!

A: Right. I understand that one. Are there any particular

targets of British jokes?

B: I guess one of the favourite subjects is relationships, and partners are often the butt of jokes. For example,vmy partner’s cooking is so bad we usually pray aftervour food’, or ‘My husband hasn’t stopped lookingvthrough the window since it started snowing. If itvgets any worse, I’ll have to let him in.’

A: I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. OK, come on.vWhat’s the secret of a good joke?

B: It should be short and easy to understand. Onelinersvare the best. If you have to explain thevpunchline, the joke hasn’t worked. That’s why it’s sometimes impossible to translate jokes into other languages.


Source © Springer Nature Ltd 2019. Macmillan Education is part of the Springer Nature Group.