What Sounds Make Humor Funnier?
Snap, Crackle, Pop
I once heard that Buddy Hackett said that words with a ‘K’ sound in them are funny. So true!
- A “car” is funnier than “automobile.”
- A “caboose” is funnier than an engine.
- A “cacophony of cats” is funnier than a noisy bunch of dogs.
Yes, for some reason hard, snappy sounds, like t, k, g, and d have a lot more funniness than flowing sounds like m, y and z.
So, X is a riot, while poor W is a wall flower. Life isn’t fair, but those are the facts.
The Impact of Hard Sounds…
Hard sounds are especially effective at the ends of lines that might result in a laugh. “We were vulnerable, helpless, trapped!” ends more sharply than “We were trapped, helpless, and vulnerable!”
Technically someone stealing from my unattended house would be a burglar, but the word “robber” has a punchier sound. So “robber” is the better choice.
You can greatly improve a pretty funny story just by replacing soft sounds with sounds that snap, crackle and pop.
Listen to these two candidate titles for a funny story. Which one sounds more interesting to you?
- “The Birds, the Bees … the Guppies.”
- “The Birds the Bees … and the Fish.
“Guppies” contains a nice pop, and even better it adds a rhyme.
So here is the true story that goes with that title:
The Birds, the Bees … the Guppies
Kids usually learn “the Facts of Life” from a parent, but my youngest brother learned them … from me.
I didn’t plan it that way, but this is what happened… My seven year old brother, Stu and I were standing together gazing into my tropical fish tank, when Stu got worried, “That fish is chasing the other fish all over the tank! He’s going to hurt him! Why does he keep doing that?”
Ah, the dance of romance… It was a male guppy besotted with a particular female. It was guppies in love.
I tried to reassure Stu that they were just playing tag. But that male was pretty darned focused on doing what males are want to do, and Stu wasn’t buying it. He was determined to protect the female from that rascal. He wanted to imprison the male in a Mason jar until he learned his lesson.
On the other hand, I wanted to see the babies. Finally I gave up and explained. “You see that rolled up fin on the male’s belly? He uses that to transfer semen to the eggs in the female’s belly.”
“What if she doesn’t like it?”
Oh dear, this was getting personal, “Well … She really likes him. Watch how she teases him. She swims away, then she slows down and looks back to see if he is following her? She likes him, but she doesn’t quite want him to know it.”
I think he might have understood that particular feeling. A few weeks later, we got to see that the female guppy was squirting out baby guppy fry all over the tank.
I guess Stu must have figured everything out, because now he’s happily married and the papa of an adult son.
So who needs the birds and the bees, when you have guppies!