There is a word for this in Indonesian language: jayus.

(Maybe, it is used in Filipino and Malaysian language also.)

It is a joke that is so bad, it's funny. It is often mentioned as untranslatable. I wonder if there is any English equivalent though. (and yes, English does not have to have a word for everything but there is always a chance or we can find a close match at least.)

Lame joke is mentioned in some of the sources but it does not quite fit. Here is an explanation:

Some argue that “lame joke” would do just fine, but not all lame jokes can make one laugh. A joke becomes a jayus when those who heard it laughed, not at the joke but at the person’s failed attempt to deliver a punch line.
Source: ~

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    A dad joke? Phrase I use a lot..
    – TyrantWave
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 8:35
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    "Car crash" and "Train wreck" are common metaphors for awful things that attract attention and fascination. If someone told a spectacularly bad joke and people fell about laughing at the awkwardness, you could say something like "That joke was a car crash, mate". But it's not specific to jokes. Commented May 7, 2014 at 9:18
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    It was so funny that I forgot to laugh Commented May 7, 2014 at 11:06
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    I saw this called an "Anti-Joke" on another post Commented May 7, 2014 at 12:52
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    @steveverrill an anti-joke is deliberately so, especially if it plays with a familiar form, like "Knock Knock!", "Who's there?" "Orange" "Orange who?" "Orange you glad I didn't say 'there's been an accident. I'm so sorry. I– I– Do you need a lift to the hospital? I can– Oh god, I'm so sorry'" or "Make like a banana and slowly blacken and turn to mush".
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 18:31

15 Answers 15


I think what you are looking for is anti-joke, from Wikipedia:

Anti-humor is a type of indirect humor that involves the joke-teller delivering something which is deliberately not funny, or lacking in intrinsic meaning. The practice relies on the expectation on the part of the audience of something humorous, and when this does not happen, the irony itself is of comedic value. Anti-humor is also the basis of various types of pranks and hoaxes


So bad, it's good is often used in reference to movies like this, but can also apply to comedians or any other entertainment, and presumably a joke.

Example usage:

Troll 2 is one of those so-bad-it's-good movies.


I just watched Troll 2 it was so bad it was good.

Within the context of telling a joke you could say something like:

Alvin is terrible joke teller, the way he told the joke was so bad it was good.

or simply

That joke was so bad, it was good.

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    A movie that's so bad that it makes people laugh (at it, not with it) may be referred to as camp. I don't think I've heard that term applied to a joke, though.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 13:29
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    Is this answer better than "so bad, it's funny"? Because I mentioned this in the question.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 15:15
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    @PhilPerry Being camp is but one of the possible ways a movie can be so bad that it's good. Not all unintentionally hilarious films are camp.
    – user867
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 0:55
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    Obligatory xkcd reference that supports this answer: xckd.com/653
    – Cephalopod
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 13:01

A phrase that's often used would be a dad joke.

(nb: You don't need to be a dad to make one, as my S.O. likes to remind me with my jokes...)

Any joke that's so abysmal such that it makes people groan could fall under this. Essentially, think of any joke your dad would make.

Dad, I'm hungry!
Hi Hungry, I'm dad!

Also, jokes with a buildup you just know it's going to suck, but you can't help but laugh because of it. And so on.

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    But that's not a bad joke.Maybe you won't laugh because you are hungry,but you have to admit,it's funny. Commented May 8, 2014 at 5:14

Corny joke might be what you're after.

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    Isn't this same as lame jock? You can give more details also.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 5:05
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    This is a good answer, give us some examples please. I would have suggested this one, myself. I'm thinking of those cringing "jokes" or puns that one finds in Christmas crackers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 6:35
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    The OP's explanation indicates that it includes bad telling of the joke messing up the joke, which doesn't really fit under "corny joke". Commented May 7, 2014 at 12:17

As requested in the comments, I am providing groaner as an answer.

Occasionally, a person will tell a joke, and when he gets to the punchline, the listeners realize that they have been suckered. It ends with an anti-climax, a horrible pun, or some other unexpectedly un-funny result.

The reaction is then a cross between a laugh and a groan. On the one hand, you have disgust over the joke, yet an acknowledgement that it does have a certain bit of wit behind it. You also simultaneously have the sense of shame-on-you toward the joke-teller for taking you in, while also giving credit for having done so, a sort of "Aha, you got me." kind of moment.

  • I'm not aware I've ever actually heard "groaner" used like this, but there's no doubt that groanworthy almost always applies to jokes, rarely anything else. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 22:18

The phrase laughing at him not with him works in a lot of these cases.


In many parts of Europe this is referred to as a Polish joke, but it isn't commonly known in other parts of the world.

  • That is awesome... it's a recursive joke.
    – Jasmine
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:02
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    Jokeception @Jasmine
    – Preston
    Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 20:06

I think that train wreck (in American English) or car crash (in British English) is the best phrase to use for this. It suggests that something's so bad that it's entertaining.


Something very close to this is the shaggy dog story. An extremely brief synopsis of the archetypal shaggy dog story is as follows (quoted here).

A boy owned a dog that was uncommonly shaggy. Many people remarked upon its considerable shagginess. When the boy learned that there are contests for shaggy dogs, he entered his dog. The dog won first prize for shagginess in both the local and the regional competitions. The boy entered the dog in ever-larger contests, until finally he entered it in the world championship for shaggy dogs. When the judges had inspected all of the competing dogs, they remarked about the boy's dog: "He's not that shaggy."

The specific events in the story might change every time you tell the story; it's more like a template for improvisation than a set narrative. Properly told, this story could last five, ten, or even fifteen minutes. You can imagine the anticlimax at the end. The teller, leading up to it, might begin to feign repressed giggles, cover his or her mouth for a moment, and generally behave as if the coming punchline is the funniest thing imaginable.

This doesn't seem to be a perfect translation, since the kinds of jokes you're talking about might not be that long; a shaggy dog story is almost always long. Still, the concept seems quite similar to me.

  • Interesting. I viewed the wiki, but I had always heard that the origin of this term was a story of a very destitute man seeing signs around town, "Lost, shaggy dog, reward $25,000" and then soon finding one shaggy dog. The story teller then takes you through many mis-adventures the man has getting to the address on the signs, with the man persevering due to the chance to finally get back on his feet and out of his misery via the reward money. When he knocks on the door, the person who answers says, "That's not our dog."
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 15:45
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    @cobaltduck, I think it would be impossible to pick out one "authentic, original" shaggy dog story. It's more like a template for improvisation. I've never heard the version you're describing, but the idea seems roughly the same.
    – senderle
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 16:01

I don't know if we have a word for it, but we certainly have a well known phrase to describe the reaction:

You have to laugh, or else you'd cry...


It's the laughing-stock – so bad, it's funny.

someone or something that seems stupid or silly, especially by trying to be serious or important and not succeeding

An invention of the Bard himself.

  • Hmm this new answer is a promising candidate also. But isn't it used mainly for someone who is laughed at in general? We can say "he is a joke" also in this sense. So here, laughing stock itself becomes a joke but not the joke that is told. Wow this is like an enigma.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 8, 2014 at 19:44
  • @ermanen "isn't it used mainly for someone who is laughed at in general?" -- No, that's the common error of interpreting 'stock' as we do in the kitchen. See the 'especially' qualifier in the definition.
    – Kris
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 5:02

I would say the closest term I've heard used is simply a "bad joke", but said in a manner that implied it was funny nonetheless. So not so much a word as an implication in speech.

I've also heard them referred to as "dry", although that's not correct and I believe was said in error.


I think flub could work.

The comedian stunk, but he flubbed his jokes so bad, we were rolling in the aisles anyway.


  • You can flub a perfectly good joke though, and while flubbing any kind of joke might sometimes be funny for the audience, it can certainly provoke more negative reactions too.
    – calum_b
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 0:08

What about schlemoozel? It would come from Schlemazel http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=schlemazel


I think it should be 'poor joke'/PJ. It is a very commonly used phrase.


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