Inherently Funny Words
"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. See also Narm, which is what happens when these words crop up in inherently unfunny contexts, and Fundamentally Funny Fruit. 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'?"
Anime & Manga
- 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.
- 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 ...
- 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 Garfield 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.
- "Beagle" — according to creator Charles M. Schulz, Snoopy is a beagle because it's a funny 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- "The Ark in Space" has a funny bit where the Doctor uses the phrase "witty little knitter".
- "Pyramids of Mars" makes the Doctor say, "I shall mingle with the mummies but I shan't linger".
- The story "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 only reason this scene could have been emphasised is for the sheer pleasure of hearing Tom Baker with his famous Voice Of Dramatic say the word 'Popocatepetl'.
- The main punchline in "Pond Life" is hearing Rory say the phrase "Ood on the loo".
- 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.
- 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 Policegames, 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.
- 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 ŕ 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:
- On this wiki, cheese.
- 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 La Beouf" was written into song
- Family Guy: "Buttscratcher". "Mmmmmmm BUTT-SCRATCHAAAAAA?? Mmm BUTT-SCRATCHAAAA!!"
- In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield takes the viewers through a lab to show them how humor is created, including listing out some words that are inherently funny.
Scientist 1: (monotone) Yellow-bellied sapsuckerScientist 2: (monotone) Extremely funny.
- 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.
- The dingbat for typesetting.
- Roger Ebert closes his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 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.