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I have a colleague who comes up with really very clever and funny things to say, but they are also very blunt. Is there a word (or two) that can describe this?

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I guess it depends on how severe the bluntness of the jokes are. Whether they are about death, how ugly someone is, or perhaps less insulting but still real-world, such as money problem jokes, for example. Any further hints? –  fuzzyanalysis Jul 25 '13 at 2:06

8 Answers 8

The phrase trenchant wit refers to humor that is “keen; biting; vigorously effective and articulate; severe”. Phrases mordant wit and caustic wit also sometimes are used. Synonyms or words related to those three suggestions include acidic, biting, burning, corrosive, searing; acerbic, bitchy, catty, mordacious, nasty, sharp, spiteful. But most of those are sharper than one desires for referring to humorous things.

Some related nouns (rather than adjectives) include repartee (“A swift, witty reply, especially one that is amusing” or “A conversation marked by a series of witty retorts”) and riposte (“a quick and usually witty response to a taunt, a retort”).

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Those are all metaphors involving killing and consuming animals. I.e, they're aggressive, competitive, and unpleasant. Perhaps a better choice would be earthy, which covers the blunt part nicely, and also allows (but does not require) the funny/clever part, since the essence of humor is finding the truth in unexpected places or guises, and nothing can be truer than Gaia. You just have to notice it and comment on it. Like Zhuang Zi, maybe. –  John Lawler Jul 25 '13 at 0:33
    
Thanks - I like this and will use it –  Andrew Findlay Jul 26 '13 at 15:56

Consider dry wit or dry humor

when the intent, but not the presentation, is humorous, blunt, oblique, sarcastic or apparently unintentional.

You might also consider deadpan

a form of comic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language. It is usually spoken in a casual, monotone or cantankerous voice, and expresses an unflappably calm, archly insincere, or artificially grave demeanor, often in spite of the ridiculousness of the subject matter.

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'Dry' is a good umbrella term for jokes steeped in reality. Nice choice. –  fuzzyanalysis Jul 25 '13 at 2:07

Deadpan, dry wit or dry humour all express the same type of humour that is delivered in quasi deadly serious tone, with little to no forewarning of the punchline in arrival. I would say the key elements to this type of humour is acutely observational, and nearly always self-referential. It is the contrast between the "comic's" expressionless stare and his resigned awareness of the futility of life that causes most hilarity among listeners.

Quote from wiki (where else):

Deadpan is a form of comic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language. It is usually spoken in a casual, monotone or cantankerous voice, and expresses an unflappably calm, archly insincere, or artificially grave demeanor, often in spite of the ridiculousness of the subject matter. This delivery is also called dry humor or dry wit, when the intent, but not the presentation, is humorous, blunt, oblique, sarcastic or apparently unintentional

.

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"Ha"! Bib pipped me at the post. All I can say is: great minds think alike! –  Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '13 at 2:08

Sardonic

disdainfully or skeptically humorous

source

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I prefer snarky: sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner.

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I have heard this kind of wit called scathing humor.

Scathing by itself means:

witheringly scornful; severely critical

So, scathing humor is the kind of humor that criticizes or points out the problems with something by poking fun at it. Here's an example of scathing humor from Downtown Abbey. Scathing humor would be a little harsher (maybe blunter) than the other suggestions of dry humor or dry wit.

Sarcasm and satire were other words that came to mind.

Sarcasm: A form of humor that is marked by mocking with irony, sometimes conveyed in speech with vocal over-emphasis. Insincerely saying something which is the opposite of one's intended meaning, often to emphasize how unbelievable or unlikely it sounds if taken literally, thereby illustrating the obvious nature of one's intended meaning.

Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

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Witty

is not bad IMO, although it does not necessarily imply bluntness.

Pithy

might also be an excellent candidate.

Piercing humor

often used to describe something akin to your friend's qualities.

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I think you want "snappy"

(from m-w.com)

snap·py adjective \ˈsna-pē\ snap·pi·ersnap·pi·est Definition of SNAPPY 1: snappish 1 2a : quickly made or done b : marked by vigor or liveliness c : briskly cold d : stylish, smart

Even though it doesn't say "funny," I think the combination of definitions b, c, and d leads one to infer humor.

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