What can you call a joke, pun, or anything funny that likely needs intelligence to get?

All I can come up with is intellectual jokes; is there another word for this? A one-word answer would be great.

  • I'm curious, what jokes do you know that you consider not to require intelligence to get? I ask because there are many types of intelligence. Some people consider topical humor to require intelligence, but it's often overdone to the point of ruining the humor (IMO).
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


I would call that cerebral humor. Dennis Miller is fairly cerebral.

Merriam Webster (above link) even uses that as an example usage of the word.

He's a very cerebral comedian.


Consider highbrow humor. Oxford Online defines highbrow as

Scholarly or rarefied in taste

  • i think highbrow will be over-boarding. its good but i want one that doesn't necessarily on the level of being a scholar to get the joke.
    – Yaje
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 2:04
  • 1
    Well you've come to the right place. If you look at ELU chat, you will see that we rarely fit the criterion of highbrow.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 2:07
  • 1
    The thing with English that you have to understand is that there are many ways to conveythe same meaning. In this case "scholarly" is equivalent to "cerebral" or "intelligent", or even "thoghtful". "Highbrow" is a very common expression to mean what you are referring to. Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 7:29


a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humour: -ODE

Witty jokes usually need some intelligence to get (and make for that matter).

  • 3
    Or perhaps a witticism:a cleverly witty and often biting or ironic remark per Merriam-Webster
    – bib
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 2:41

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