"Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny. You say 'Alka-Seltzer', you get a laugh... Words with 'k' in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that's a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny. Car keys. Cleveland... Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny. Then, there's chicken. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny."Fact: Whether by pronunciation, spelling, or use, some words are just plain funny to certain characters. Warning: Do not use any of these words to try to make an unfunny sentence funny. Tends to overlap with I Just Like Saying the Word, as in the case of the page image. See also Narm, which can happen when these words crop up in inherently unfunny contexts. Want to have some fun sharing your favorite ones? Take a gander over at the Just-For-Fun page!
— Willy Clark, The Sunshine Boys
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- Booger Mountain, North Carolina. Known for Christmas trees; their marketing campaign is "Always Pick a Booger!"
- The Best Buy commercial with Amy Poehler as a Dumb Blonde:
"Can I use a dongle with this? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word 'dongle'?"
- From 1990: Pfister. "The pfabulous pfaucet with the pfunny name."
- Used in an announcer spiel for an old "We'll be back" bumper for Tom and Jerry on Cartoon Network.
Announcer: Stick around, Tom had to run out for some ointment. Funny word, ointment. Ointment! Where was I? Oh yeah, Tom and Jerry will be right back.
Anime & Manga
- Fushigiboshi No Futago Hime: In-Universe example: Gabin, a word said by Altezza. It's the only thing that makes the Bo Dragon laugh.
- Osaka from Azumanga Daioh apparently finds certain words in the Okinawan dialect hilarious, like "osenmikocha" and "saataa andaagii".
- Tsukasa from Lucky Star considers "Barusamiko suu" (balsamic vinegar) to be this.
- On Monty Python's Previous Record, Dr. Carl Gruber goes through words on which he gauges embarrassment levels: "Shoe. Megaphone. Grunties." And even ruder: "Wankel Rotary Engine."
- An obscure German Kabarett sketch "The Red-Green Peril". By some Insane Troll Logic (involving traffic lights) it gets turned into Yellow Peril first, and subsequently this trope: "Chinese leader Dennnnng (spoken very energically) Xiao Piiiiing (spoken very Instant Soprano)..."
- Eddie Izzard: Zingelbert Bembledack, Yingybert Dambleban, Zangelbert Bingledack, Wingelbert Humptyback, Slup ben Walla, Kringelbert Fishtybuns, Steviebuns Bottrittrundle, Tringelbert Wangledack, Klingybun Fistelvase, Dindlebert Zindledack, Engelbert Humptyback, Zengelbert Bingledack, Vingelbert Wingledanck...
- George Carlin once did a routine where he talks about foods he can't eat because they have funny names. "I can't eat *snicker* bananas. And I could never eat *suppressed guffaw* kumquats!"
- Rowan Atkinson's bit "No One Called Jones" relies on a combination of this, Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?, and Hypocritical Humor at the end.
- Atkinson has a particularly impressive ability to make just about any word into one of these, solely by his use of inflection.
- Political songster/satirist Mark Russell had to do a song about Michael Dukakis on short notice, knowing absolutely nothing about him; he finally settled on pointing out that Dukakis was, of the 1988 lineup of Presidential candidates, "the only one whose name is fun to say":
Michael Dukakis, Michael Dukakis,
A name to gladden every voter's heart
A name that's so neat it's
Fun to repeat it —
It sounds just like a car that will not start! Michaeldukakismichaeldukakismichaeldukakis ...
- Yiddish seems to have a lot of words that are considered inherently funny whether one understands them or not. It could be conjectured that this helped the mainstream appeal of Borscht Belt comedy—or vice versa, that these words became funny by association with the Borscht Belt. (And "borscht", of course, is itself hilarious.)
- Doom Patrol:
Love Glove: I don't know what to say.
Mr. Nobody: Try 'baboon'. It never fails to raise an embarrassed chuckle.
- Deadpool: "CHIMICHANGA!"
Agent X: Spatula is a funny word. Do you know what else is a funny word?Deadpool: Rumsfield? Zygote?Agent X: Pancreas. And I want mine back.
- Batman R.I.P.
Joker: What is it about the sombrero? Some words are just naturally funny.
- Abu Dhabi, hence its abuse in the comics. Jim Davis has also said he's a sucker for anything with a "k" sound. "Cabbage? Funny. Lettuce? Not funny." This line has also been said in a strip and in an episode of Garfield and Friends.
- Also, Garfield likes take-out Chinese food (like egg-foo-young and moo-goo-gai-pan) because "it's as much fun to say as it is to eat".
- "Beagle" — according to creator Charles M. Schulz, Snoopy is a beagle because it's a funny word.
- Schulz has also claimed he personally likes the music of Brahms better than that of Beethoven, but made the latter Schroder's idol because "Beethoven" is a funnier word.
- "Zamboni" probably counts as well, given the many hockey-related strips that ended with one as the punchline.
- "Cow". The Far Side creator Gary Larson said so.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Hobbes likes to say "smock".
- And "quark◊".
- An early Dilbert strip has Dilbert use his computer to find the funniest words, which turn out to be "weasel", "chainsaw", "prune", and any reference to Gilligan's Island.
- Dobby relished his groinsaw's roar...
- Fuckfire, rape apes, the entire fic is full of funny Squick squicky words.
- Deadpool has two different scenes of Wade and Blind Al arguing over the assemblage of Ikea furniture, because the Swedish names for said furniture sound hilarious coming from English speakers. Especially since they happen to be pronouncing them all wrong.
- In an interview about Monty Python's Life of Brian, John Cleese, asked why they chose the name Brian, said, "It's one of the funny names, isn't it? It's like Trevor and Kevin. I mean, they're just funny."
- According to Dave Barry, "doot", "weasel", and "Smoot-Hawley Tariff".
I'm at home, sitting in front of my computer in my underwear, trying to decide which animal name is funnier, 'hamster' or 'gerbil.' ("Answer: 'weasel.'")
- Harry Potter features the following quote from Albus Dumbledore:
Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!
- In "We Sled With Dragons", a children book by C. Alexander London, everybody can't help giggling when hearing "Djibuti". Subtly lampshaded when the author deadpan mentions the icy mountains of Uranus in the next sentence.
- In "Stop me if you heard this" by Jim Holt, about joke history and philosophy, he claims "Kalamazoo", the town in Michigan, as worlds only one-word-joke (arguing that the "z" phoneme is the most funny in English language).
- Landlubber Midshipman Alexis Carew trying to learn naval terminology in the first book leads to a bit of this.
Alexis: (reading the name of a structural segment off her tablet) "Forward-twelve-port, first futtock"? Now you're just making things up!
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a show known for its willingness to use the word "shit", has an episode in its fourth season called "Who Pooped the Bed?", where "shit" is scarcely used. Lampshaded, even.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... But you can call me Tim.
- In Seinfeld, George thinks that the word "puke" is funny. "That's a funny word. Puke. Puke! Don't have to think about that."
- X-Play had a field day with the word "Kha'ak". "Dik dik" as well.
- Discussed in Gilmore Girls: "Oy, with the poodles already!".
- Whose Line Is It Anyway:
Colin: Proud...citizens of Doglick!Ryan: We call it Butte (not Butt), Montana...Jeff: Who wants an Oxnard? I do! I do!Ryan: (with a stoned look on his face) What's the matter with Weed?
- The word "ocelot", according to Greg Proops.
- There was one session of Scenes From a Hat, when the suggestion "Cities that shouldn't have a song about them" came up:
- Blackadder has "Bob" and "wibble".
- Happens quite a lot in Miranda.
Gary: (after jumping and sending popcorn flying everywhere) Sorry about that. The husks go everywhere.
- One episode of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge has Kenny finding the word "Astronaut" to be one ("Ass-tronaut")
- Mock the Week has "Showaddywaddy"
- Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye thinks this about the words "shed" and "cheese", and took every opportunity to use them in unusual ways in the show.
- In mid-2006, there was a segment of The Colbert Report where Colbert combined the names of celebrity couples. For William H Macy and Felicity Huffman's portmanteau, he couldn't help laughing at "Filliam H Muffman".
- One episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch featured Aunt Hilda musing over words she enjoyed saying. She eventually ends with "brackish water".
- The Sopranos gets a lot of mileage out of this trope. A lot of the series' more light-hearted (or, blackly comedic) moments tend to involve the characters' favorite foods, which always seem to have really silly names. Choice examples include "gabagool"note , "buffalo mozzarella"note , and of course, that time Chrissy shot a rude bakery cashier in the foot over a box of sfogliatellenote and cannolisnote .
- Monty Python's Flying Circus got a lot of mileage out of naming characters with these. One sketch revolved around a man whose name is spelled "Raymond Luxury-Yacht" but which is pronounced "Throatwarbler Mangrove", another featured a Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop Ftang-Ftang Olé Biscuit Barrel.
- The Chemist Sketch was interrupted by an Eric Idle voiceover stating that "it is against the policy of the BBC to get cheap laughs with words like knickers, bum, or wee-wees."
- Doctor Who:
- There's an old Jon Pertwee catchphrase for describing the reason for the series' focus on Earthbound horror - "a Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec".
- During the Fourth Doctor era, Robert Holmes would often give the Doctor funny-sounding phrases to say, because Tom Baker had a rich, melodramatic voice that Holmes found amusing. See:
- "The Ark in Space": "witty little knitter", and a whole scene where the Doctor has to repeatedly chant the word "green" (a word which Baker pronounces strangely).
- "Pyramids of Mars": "I shall mingle with the mummies but I shan't linger".
- "The Brain of Morbius" places weird emphasis on a scene where the Doctor is listing volcanoes, ending with a close-up of his face as he says the word 'Popocatepetl'.
- The main punchline in "Pond Life" is hearing Rory say the phrase "Ood on the loo".
- An episode of the Johnny Carson Show parodied Dragnet using the 'k-sound' principle by having Johnny describe the caper of the copper clappers to Jack Webb.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Outrageous Okona" had a B-plot about Data's attempts to understand human humor. To help him, he has the holodeck create a stand-up comic (guest star Joe Piscopo). When asked simply, "What is funny?", The Comic lists a few random things he finds personally hilarious, and one of them is "words that end in K". Later, when The Comic says something that's not meant to be funny but happens to mention Teaneck, New Jersey, Data spots the K-word and thinks he's catching on.
- The song "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt". Supposedly the reason for the long name is that the song's writer thought German-esque words were inherently funny.
- In a similar case, during the recording of Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages", producer Mutt Lange originally planned to start the song with "1-2-3-4". But in a case of Throw It In, Lange mouthed out the German-sounding nonsense phrase, "Gunter glieben glauchen globen", which the band members found amusing and made the song stand out even further.
- Animal Crackers:
Captain Spaulding: Then we tried to remove the tusks. The tusks. That's not so easy to say. Tusks. You try it some time.
- Kingdom of Loathing: "You eat the kumquat, snickering a little at how funny a word "kumquat" is."
- Borderlands 2 has a side-quest, "The Name Game", where Sir Hammerlock tries to come up with a new name for the ape-like Bullymongs. After his first two ideas are rejected, he gets frustrated and starts calling them "Bonerfarts". This leads to the Bullymongs being labelled as "Bonerfarts" for the remainder of the quest, including the young Monglets being called Bonertoots.
- It last the rest of the game if you choose to stop advancing the quest at that point.
- Mass Effect 2 introduces quarian Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. Don't ask about the name.
- "Banang", a fictional powdered fruit drink that first appeared in Telltale Games' Sam & Max: Freelance Police games, and quickly became something of a running gag. Sam seems to think it's hilarious, but Max quickly gets tired of the gag.
- The main theme behind the names of everything in The Bizarre Adventures Of Woodruff And The Schnibble.
- Taokaka's name is flat out stupid for spanish speaking players of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, due the -kaka sounds exactly how the word poop is pronounced, it becomes a gold-mine of Narm when it's known there's a whole clan called the Kaka clan.
- On the fifth night of Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, your Mission Control asks you to type in what kind of gift basket you'd like to be given at the end of your first week, at which point the Running Gag of the glitchy console auto-correcting your responses in absurd ways gives you "Exotic Butters". The hidden ending features a basket full of sticks of butter in the background, one of which has a gift bow on it, and you gain an option in the extras menu of a picture of that basket of butter which, when clicked, just repeatedly says "Exotic butters".
- Dork Tower's creator John Kovalic favors "spleen", especially in the legendary strip for which the punchline was "Roll the dice. I want to see if I eat your spleen..."
- From Homestuck, when the Tricksters alchemize the Warhammer of Zillyhoo and other artifacts, combined with a Who's on First? routine:
Flippety dippety doo bup bup shrubber double floppy mumblescurry noodlescoop pizzabubble pizzabubble mip mip mip mip mip mip.
- The creators of Ménage à 3 and other strips in the Pixietrix stable apparently regard "Begonias" (as here) as inherently funny, although they don't use it especially often.
- The commentary for this Questionable Content strip is of the opinion that "Mongol", "curmudgeon", and "spatula" are inherently funny words.
- Discussed in Slice of Life:
"When I started this tumblr, one of my goals was to have a panel where Mr. Cake screams 'croquembouche' for no reason. Now, I’ve finally achieved my dream. Feels good."
- Sluggy Freelance:
- In a note on Star Mares in which an incident at Rainbow Dash's quincentennial celebration that allegedly rendered Twilight Sparkle unable to look at mayonnaise for weeks is discussed, the author states "originally it was salad, but mayonnaise is a funnier word."
- The Nostalgia Critic: "Lettuce' is not funny. 'Cabbage' is freaking hilarious. Just watch: lettuce (silence), cabbage (laugh track). Works every time."
- The inherent hilarity of "gurt" is a Running Gag in Echo Chamber; it starts when Ace makes a video about portmanteaus, including separating "yogurt" into "yo" and "gurt". He keeps cracking up whenever he says "gurt", and later the word merely being mentioned is the only thing to get Mr Administrator to laugh, leading to the first time we see more of his face.
- Microsoft Sam Reads Funny Windows Errors has "Taking a dump". Actually, there are a lot of them, like Tacos, Penguins, Diarrhea, and the infamous SWAAAAA.
- In YouTube Poops, one popular practice is to play a short part of an audio clip forwards, then play the same part in reverse. (For example, "something" would become "sus"). This is known as a "sauce joke".
- The VlogBrothers:
- John is travelling on February 1st, 2007. "Okay, we're gonna walk through the airport and see if we can find anything funny. The word "choate" is funny."
- When discussing the 2008 Nerdfighter website, John finds another word he considers inherently funny — "ning", related to their new site building. It's as good as bling but you don't have to spend money on jewels!
- The Cinema Snob describes "Yeti" as one of the funniest words in the English language, to the point he thinks a horror movie with that as a monster (such as the reviewed one, Shriek of the Mutilated) is just asking for involuntary comedy.
- In this Cracked article, Seanbaby describes how he filters any email he receives containing the words "cheese" or "weasel", citing these as the words most often used by people trying too hard to be funny.
- Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw has found one for himself near the end of 'Let's Play Normality', it was boobie boobie bum bum. Made him laugh so hard he started to leaked tears.
- In the RiffTrax short "This Is Hormel", poor Kevin has trouble coming up with riffs after hearing words such as "picnic boning" and "batch master".
- The YouTube channel PronunciationManual uses these a lot, and makes the problem worse by blatantly mispronouncing them.
- According to Rob Cantor, this trope is how "Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf" was written into song.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: The comedy of the "Vagina Monologue" versions of episodes is based around one joke: random nouns in the script are replaced with "vagina".
- In a game of Trivial Pursuit, four members of Achievement Hunter - Jack Patillo, Jeremy Dooley, Michael Jones and Gavin Free - found the name of the Egyptian god Ptah funny, mostly because it was so out there.
- Anna Akana admits in the video "How to Get Fired from Phone Sex" that the word "penis" makes her giggle.
- Family Guy: "Buttscratcher". "Mmmmmmm BUTT-SCRATCHAAAAAA?? Mmm BUTT-SCRATCHAAAA!!"
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Last Roundup", Pinkie Pie goes on a little rant about words she finds funny:
Pinkie Pie: Say it with me! Pickle barrel kumquat, pickle barrel kumquat, pickle barrel kumquat, chimi-cherry-changa!
- The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown thinks "mukluk" is funny.
- One from "Homie the Clown":
Krusty: OK, memorize these funny place names: Walla Walla... Keokuk... Cucamonga... Seattle...
Homer: (splitting his sides in laughter) Stop it, you're killing me! Hee-hee-hee, Seattle...
- One from "Homie the Clown":
- In Freakazoid!, we got "huggbees". To the point where an entire short was dedicated to finding ways to use it.
- In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo got a kick out of the name "Topeka". "It's hot... in To-PEE-ka!"
- South Park would like to tell you about Rob Schneider's latest movie: "Da Derp Dee Derp Da Teetley Derpee Derpee Dumb".
- In Ultimate Spider-Man Deadpool giggles at the phrase "trap" instead of the "booby" before it.
- In the Garfield and Friends short, “How to be Funny”, Garfield goes to the National Institute of Humor and Mirth Analysis, where two deadpan scientists are researching the funniest words to use in jokes:
Scientist 1: PickleScientist 2: FunnyScientist 1: PretzelScientist 2: FunnyScientist 1: CookieScientist 2: FunnyScientist 1: SteakScientist 2: Not FunnyScientist 1: Yellow Bellied SapsuckerScientist 2: FunnyScientist 1: DogScientist 2: Not FunnyScientist 1: ElephantScientist 2: FunnyScientist 1: ChickenScientist 2:: Extremely funnyScientist 1:LionScientist 2: Not funnyScientist 1: Hmm
- In Animaniacs, the Warner siblings sing about Lake Titicaca because they "really like saying its name".
- Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, insists that "underpants" is definitely funnier than "underwear".
- A number of Looney Tunes shorts in the past would find some way to use the city of Walla Walla, Washington.
- Two sequences in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America would put the duo on the seniors' touring bus and, as they would pass by different cities, they would all be Inherently Funny Words.
- Butt-Head (passes by a sign reading "Butte") Butt. (passes by a sign reading "Weippe") Wipe.
- The Venture Bros.:
- In "Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!", Hank is hanging around being mildly annoying while Brock does his morning workout. He becomes entranced by the word "SCUBA", repeating it over and over and realizing that it's really a weirdly funny word. To his own surprise, Brock is forced to admit he's right.
- In "Victor. Echo. November.", in the course of a discussion about how not to get urine in your pants after using the toilet, Dean uses the word "dab" so many times it becomes both grating and hilarious, and Hank demands he stop saying it. But later, when Hank accidentally sets his crotch on fire, Dean "wails on his junk" to put it out. In agony, Hank asks him to "just dab".
- In "Momma's Boys", Hank stumbles across the phrase "doll withdrawal". He realizes it's not only funny-sounding, it's pretty hard to say.
- The dingbat for typesetting.
- Roger Ebert closes his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) with "'Turtle,' by the way, is a very funny word."
- Observe this trope in live action! There is a famous German Take That! against modern art, "Kunst kommt von Können, käme sie von Wollen, hieße sie Wulst" note , attributed to every Tom, Dick and Harry. This version is the earliest reported; the variant "Wunst" is no German word and never caught on. But in todays oral conversation, you will now always hear "Wurst", sausage. note It partly ruins the "mechanic" of the joke, but it's (somehow) funnier.
- Another German example for forced vague sexualization: Decades ago you could hear kids playing catch, shouting "Krieg mich doch, Eierkopf!" (Catch me, egghead!) Also dictated by rhyme, today it degraded to "Eierloch" (egg hole). Which doesn't make sense at all. But he said hole, Butt-Head, hu hu.