Play Video

Jokes in English, explained

Jokes in English, they’re not always easy to understand 😅
Humor can be tricky to master in a different language. There are a lot of cultural references, nuances, wordplay, and more that can make a joke hard to understand. That’s why this week, I’m bringing different styles of jokes you might find in English, and the explanation behind them!


Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 344. And today I’m going to talk to you about jokes in English. It’s going to be a funny one.

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode. Today, I want to talk about jokes and being funny in a second language. Because I think the hardest thing in a second language is to be able to be funny, and I will be talking about this in the episode. But in this introduction to the episode, I have to say it again, cause when I ask people, what does freedom look like for them, they always say, you know, being able to feel confident, being able to express myself, and being able to be as funny as I am in my first language.

Now, sometimes it’s hard to be funny in your own language – to tell jokes in the right rhythm, intonation, in a way that makes people laugh. And I think that I’m funny in a different way in my first language and in English. But I definitely remember that it took me some time to be funny in English. And I remember trying to tell a joke at a bar that I used to work at, and people would just not get it. Like, I guess I told it with the wrong intonation or I didn’t take the right pause. And I told a joke, which was pretty courageous of me to try and do. And they were kind of like politely smiling, but they weren’t laughing as I expected them to laugh.

And I remember feeling like, ah, you know, I think that had I told it in Hebrew, my first language, they would have laughed so badly. I think my choice of joke was also not that great. Maybe I was just trying to translate a joke. I don’t remember the details, I just remember the feeling. Which is what we end up remembering, in most cases, right, the experience, the feeling.

So today I wanted to break down some of the language-related jokes and explain them. Now, when we filmed it, we laughed so hard, but at the same time, like, we also laughed because it wasn’t funny once you tried to explain it. So… I don’t know, humor is such an interesting thing. But I gave my best shot at trying to explain some knock knock jokes and bar jokes, so I think you’re going to like it.

But also I think you’re going to relate to this feeling that being funny in a second language is always a little bit more challenging. But it’s more about the confidence and the nuances of the language, especially when it comes to language-related jokes, because we do need to have a level of understanding of the subtleties of the language, the culture, and so much more. So anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

If you do find it helpful, then don’t be a stranger, come and say hi on Instagram. You can find me at @hadar.accentsway. And you can also rate and review the podcast. I always appreciate it because it helps the podcast get to more people that way, who might need it as well. So anyway, let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

Siri, can you tell me a knock knock joke?

Okey dokey. “Knock knock”.

Who’s there?

“Ariana Grande”.

Ariana Grande who?

“Okay, Boomer.”

Do you understand jokes in English? Understanding jokes in English can be challenging, because sometimes it relates to the culture or history, and sometimes it’s very focused on the language. And if you don’t have a strong grasp of all the elements of the language, then it might be a little hard or confusing to understand.

So in this video, I wanted to share a few language-related jokes and explain them so that we can laugh together, and also for you to start understanding how to think about jokes. I came up for this idea for this video because recently I interviewed Luke from Luke’s English Podcast. And on the video, he shared a joke.

“And a couple of people came in late. And, uh… and I sort of, you know, had to deal with that. And I said, ‘Oh, you know, you’re a bit late. Anyway, come in. Where are you from?’ And they said, ‘We’re Russian’. And I said, ‘Well, you weren’t rushing to come here, were you?’”

The joke is a pun and it’s a play on language. And I got a lot of questions from people asking, “Can you explain the joke?” And when I looked at how people watch the video, I saw that during that part, the part that he actually tells the joke, so many people repeated it, trying to understand the meaning of the joke.

So, quickly to explain Luke’s joke: people came in late to his show, so they were taking their time. And then he asked them, “Where are you from?” And they said, “We’re Russian”, from Russia. Now, Russian also sounds like ‘rushing’. To rush is to hurry up. Now they were taking their time, they weren’t rushing to get in.

So the joke was funny because they said, “We’re Russian”. And he said, “Well, you weren’t rushing to get in” because he meant the different meaning. Because he was referring to the different meaning of the word ‘rushing’. Now, this is called a pun. A pun is a type of joke that plays with words. So it usually uses words that either sound similar or the same words that have different meanings. And then that what makes it funny. And by the way, apart from explaining some puns, we’re also going to explain some knock knock jokes, bar jokes, and dad jokes.

Okay. The first one. “I don’t trust stairs. Because they’re always up to something”. So why is this a joke? Because stares are leading you up somewhere, right? But also the phrase ‘up to something’ is usually a negative phrase. It means that the person is plotting or scheming or planning something secretly. So talking about stares, like they’re up to something, it’s kind of funny.

Okay. Another one. “Ghosts are terrible liars. You can see right through them”. This is funny. Because, obviously, ghosts are transparent, so you can see through them. But the phrase ‘you can see through them’ means that you can immediately see if they’re lying. You can see right through what they’re saying, they’re lies. “I can see right through you”.

So, when someone is really an open book, you can say about that someone, Oh, you can see right through them, you see exactly how they feel, it’s really hard for them to hide something. And this is why it’s funny, because ghosts are actually transparent. Get it? Explaining jokes is really hard.

“Have you ever tried eating a clock? It’s very time-consuming”. Eating a clock. So time-consuming means it takes a long time to do it, right, because it will take you a long time to eat a clock. But also, ‘time consuming’, you’re consuming (eating) time.

“Why did Adele cross the road? To say hello from the other side”.

All right, the next type of jokes that we’re going to talk about is knock knock jokes. Knock knock jokes are like a childish, silly wordplay type of jokes. And it goes like this. You say knock knock, and then someone else needs to ask, “Who’s there?” And then you say something, and then that person has to repeat that something and say, “… who?”.

So, let me give you an example.

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Figs who?”

“Figs the doorbell. I’ve been knocking forever”.

Let me explain. Figs – Figs who? Figs the doorbell. So, it sounds like ‘fix the doorbell’. Fix – Figs. But you don’t hear it when you just say the word ‘figs’. You know what? Let me show you how it works with Siri.

Siri, can you tell me a knock knock joke?

“Okie dokie. Knock knock”.

Who’s there?

“Ariana Grande”.

Ariana Grande who?

“Okay, Boomer”. See, it’s funny. Because if I have to ask “Ariana Grande who?” probably I’m not young enough.

Okay, another one.

“Knock, knock.”

Who’s there?


Radio who?

“Radio not, here I come. Hee hee”.

All right. Let me explain. The joke was ‘radio’. So you’re thinking ‘radio’. And then you’re asking ‘radio who?’ But ‘radio’ is actually the beginning of another phrase “Ready or not, here I come”. “Ready or not, here I come. You can’t hide”. Haha.

Another type of jokes is bar jokes, which usually goes something like this. Someone walks into a bar and then something happens, or the bartender says. So let me tell you a couple of jokes. And again, it’s also language related.

“A sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’m sorry, we don’t serve food here”. Why is it funny? Because the sandwich is food, so “We don’t serve food here”, it means we cannot serve you because we don’t serve food, we serve people. But also, we don’t serve food here is something that you may often hear in a bar because they don’t have food at the bar.

“A grasshopper hops into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Hey, we have a drink named after you’. The grasshopper replies, ‘You have a drink named Steve?’” Okay, so, the grasshopper doesn’t refer to itself as a grasshopper, but as Steve. But the drink’s name is a ‘grasshopper’.

“A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?” So, ‘the long face’ refers to, ‘Why are you sad?’ Now, if you don’t know that ‘Why the long face’ means ‘Why are you sad?’, then it would be hard to get the joke. Because yes, a horse has a long face, but it has double meaning, and that’s the joke.

“Two peanuts walk into a bar. One was assaulted”. So, a salted peanut is a peanut that was salted, has salt around it. But someone who is assaulted means that the peanut was attacked, which is something that could happen at a bar. ‘assaulted’ – ‘a salted’. Get it?

Now, lastly, we’re going to talk about dad jokes. Have you ever heard this term – a ‘dad joke’? A dad joke is usually a pun, and usually it’s like an overly simplistic humor, usually not with a strong punch. A lot of times it’s referred to as not funny jokes that dads try to push and tell them again and again and again.

“What’s eating you? Nothing. He’s at the top of the food chain”.

My dad has one that I think I’ve heard hundreds of times in my childhood. I won’t tell it because it’s in my first language and most of you will not understand it. An example for a dad joke is: “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot”. ‘orange’ rhymes with ‘parrot’ – a carrot. That’s not that funny.

“Singing in the shower is fun until you get soap in your mouth because then it’s a soap opera”. You get it? You get soap in your mouth when you sing, and then it’s a soap opera? Because opera is… cause you sing in an opera and then you have soap while singing, but a soap opera is dramatic… It’s so lame to explain jokes, this is what kills the whole joke. But I had to do it to help you understand jokes better.

Okay, that’s it. Now, it might be hard to be funny in English because you have to have the confidence to say something, and also the linguistic understanding of how to say something. But you can have a sense of humor in English. Because you don’t have to be funny, you just need to understand that something is funny. That’s it. Now I want you to write down in the comments all the knock knock jokes, all the puns, all the dad jokes, all the bar jokes that you know, and let’s have fun with it.

All right, that’s it. Thank you so much for watching, and I really hope you will come back for the next video. I know some of you might have other thoughts about me, about my sense of humor. But I have to say, I love these kinds of jokes, especially when I hear them for the first time. And the second time it’s not as funny, like the surprise element is what does the trick. And I really hope that you will be able to open your ears and open your mind, and also practice it to start understanding more and more of these jokes. Know that it is possible for you.

Have a beautiful day. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
344. Jokes in English, explained

Liked this video?

Get a weekly bite size pronunciation lesson straight to your inbox
Don’t like it? No problem. You can unsubscribe in one click.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.