Practice English with These 5 Jokes

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Women laughing

If you are reading this, you are probably business-minded, and business can be pretty serious, especially right now when there is so much uncertainty in the world.

I understand.

Even without all of the serious matters at hand today, I can be pretty serious by nature. So, recently I made a point to try to memorize a joke. I thought it would help lighten my mood and and also be a good exercise in memorization. I’ll tell you the joke in just a moment.

The important thing is that I discovered that memorizing and then telling a joke to a friend is a fantastic way to practice a language in a brain-friendly way. In addition, it helps you practice something called timing.

Wikipedia explains it like this: “Comic timing is the use of rhythm, tempo, and pausing to enhance comedy and humor. The pacing of the delivery of a joke can have a strong impact on its comedic effect.”

One simple example of timing is when you pause before delivering the punch line. But that is just the beginning. If you're really curious, here’s a great audio clip of comedian George Carlin describing the concepts of timing and delivery in his own words.

When you take into account the timing, delivery, and memorization, telling a joke in your native language can be challenging enough! There can be a lot of pressure to get it right. So, why practice telling jokes in your target language?

For the fun and challenge of it, I say! Plus, even if you mess it up, you will probably get a laugh anyway, just for your effort. I recommend starting with shorter jokes and building up to longer ones. Or, simply choose one joke and master it over time.

Here are 5 jokes to memorize and share.

Before beginning, I should mention that humor is highly subjective. Your sense of humor is influenced by your personality, your culture, your general outlook on life, among other things. If you don't find any of the following jokes funny, then it makes no sense to memorize one of them.

So, find a joke that makes you smile before you try to use it to make someone else smile. If you don't find humor in the joke, your listener will most likely be able to see that. And, part of the fun is building a sense of connection with your listener.

Joke #1

This one is short and sweet and a good place to start.

Two men meet on opposite sides of a river. One shouts to the other "I need you to help me get to the other side!"

The other guy replies "You are on the other side!"

This joke is courtesy of:

Joke #2

This one makes me smile...

A snail walks into a bar and the barman tells him there's a strict policy about having snails in the bar, and so he kicks him out.

A year later the same snail re-enters the bar and asks the barman "What did you do that for?"

This joke is courtesy of

Joke #3

Here is the joke I memorized and told to my husband. If I remember correctly, he laughed. That was just icing on the cake, as they say. My main goal was to actually complete the whole joke from beginning to end and have it make sense.

Two prisoners escape from jail. They are able to find some new clothes, food, and water and make their way into town. They reach the center of a small town, and there in the center is a map of the town on display.

Looking at the map, the prisoner looks at the other one and says, “It's hopeless, Johnny. We might as well turn ourselves in. They already know where we are,” he says and points to the words on the map, YOU ARE HERE.

("to turn oneself in" means to admit guilt by going to the police)

I can’t remember where I found this joke, and I tried to find it online again with no luck. So, I am unable to give anyone credit. My apologies.

Joke #4

A boy asks his father, "Dad, are bugs good to eat?"

"That's disgusting. Don't talk about things like that over dinner," the dad replies.

After dinner the father asks, "Now, son, what did you want to ask me?"

"Oh, nothing," the boy says. "There was a bug in your soup, but now it’s gone."

This joke is courtesy of:

Joke #5

This one might take some practice as it is a little long. It's also culturally-based since it references job benefits and salaries.

At the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Manager asks a young engineer fresh out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "And what starting salary are you looking for?"

The engineer replies, "In the region of $200,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer inquires, "Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund up to 50% of your salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?"

The engineer sits up straight and says, "Wow! Are you kidding?" The interviewer replies, "Yeah, but you started it."

This joke is courtesy of: (I edited it slightly.)

Over to you...

I would love to hear your favorite jokes and your experience with telling them. There is a whole world of jokes online. So, if my examples aren’t a good match for you, check out the resources below. Or, try translating a joke from your native language. It might work well in English! Why not experiment?


Short, clean jokes:

Some more short, clean jokes:

Jokes from every category:

#JokesforlearningEnglish #Englishlearning #ESLSpeaking #ImproveEnglishspeaking #Funnyjokes

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