Dark jokes – the punchlines of which leave ever the most jaded members of society stunned into silence – often exist at the crossroads of offensiveness, darkness and cynicism. While dark one-liners can certainly often raise eyebrows, there is also a great deal of surprising humor to be found in the depths of darkness. A cleverly delivered dark joke is often able to draw out a laugh in the face of otherwise horrific events. But what are dark jokes exactly, and why can they be so powerful? In this article, we will look at the definition of dark comedy, some classic dark jokes, and tips on how to tell your own dark jokes.

What Are Dark Jokes?

Dark jokes are those that tackle the taboo or make light of topics—such as death, racism, or violence—that generally leave us feeling uncomfortable. It’s often said that dark comedy is no laughing matter, but it shares many similarities with other types of comedic performance such as black comedy and gallows humor in that it aims to evoke laughter in the face of adversity.

Dark jokes can be delivered in a variety of ways; one-liners, anecdotes, puns and parody are all popular formats amongst dark comedy stand-ups, who often make their jokes with a wink and a nod to elicit an audience response.

Classic Examples of Dark Jokes

Below is a list of some classic, as well as some more obscure, dark jokes.

  1. What do you call a sheep with no legs?

A cloud.

  1. What did the fish say when it hit the wall?


  1. How do you make holy water?

You boil the hell out of it.

  1. How do you organize a space party?

You planet.

  1. Why don’t scientists trust atoms?

Because they make up everything.

  1. What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?
    Outlaws are wanted.

  2. What did the pirate say when he turned 80?

Aye matey.

  1. What did the skeleton say before a pun?

Bone appétit.

  1. What did the orchestra say when the conductor raised his baton?

Hit it.

  1. What did the cannibal do after he dumped his girlfriend?

Wiped his butt.

Tips for Telling Dark Jokes

  1. Choose the Right Audience
    Dark comedy isn’t for everyone, and it’s important to only tell dark jokes to an audience who will be receptive to them. Raucous laughter and cheers should be your goal when telling dark jokes.

  2. Rehearse
    Dark jokes often take a lot of practice to get right, so make sure to spend some time before you try to tell your joke to an audience. That way, you’ll be able to finesse the timing and presentation of your joke before you unleash it on unsuspecting listeners.

  3. Timing is Everything
    Dark jokes rely heavily on the right timing to get right. An inappropriate pause or emphasis in the wrong place can ruin a dark joke. Make sure to practice your joke to the point where you have the timing down perfectly before trying it out.

  4. Have Fun
    The best dark jokes come from comedians who make it look effortless and show that they’re having as much fun as their audience. Don’t be afraid to let yourself have a good time when trying out a dark joke.

Dark jokes are those that tackle topics which are generally deemed “off limits” or uncomfortable for polite conversation. These jokes can either be specifically humorous, or serve as a way for a comedian to comment on a particular subject. Classic examples of dark jokes range from absurd one-liners to morbid anecdotes, while tips on how to tell dark jokes include finding the right audience, practicing your joke, and having fun with it. Ultimately, dark jokes, while often met with mixed reactions, can be a source of great laughter in the face of difficult or tragic circumstances.

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