In need of a laugh? Tim Bowen shows his funny side with this set of humorous collocations.

Humour, defined as ‘a funny quality that makes people laugh’ can have a dark side and also be referred to alongside more serious notions. In this case, it can be black, dark, grim, macabre, morbid or even gallows, as in ‘He was well-known for his gallows humour, once joking that the good news was that he was going to have a disease named after him’. 

Humour can also be unusual and slightly crazy, in which case it can be described as off-the-wall, quirky, surreal or wacky, as in ‘The film is characterised by its quirky humour and unconventional story-line’. 

Humour that is not obvious or direct can be labelled gentle, subtle or tongue-in-cheek, as in ‘The gentle humour of the original novel is faithfully replicated in the film version’. 

Humour delivered without laughing or smiling is deadpan, dry or wry, as ‘His deadpan humour seemed to make his jokes even funnier’ or ‘His expressionless delivery and wry humour had the audience in stitches’. 

If the person telling jokes or amusing stories shows a lack of respect when doing so, his or her humour can be described as ironic, irreverent, sarcastic or sardonic, as in ‘His irreverent brand of humour is almost guaranteed to offend some sections of the audience’. 

The noun brand is often used to indicate a type of humour, as in the preceding example. 

If someone indulges in making jokes about himself or herself, their humour can be called self-deprecating, as in ‘Her ability to see her own imperfections, coupled with her self-deprecating humour, makes her all the more likeable’.