I’m strongly convinced that even in most dire situations, humor is the best medicine. Humor might be the only way to experience yourself as a free, autonomous and healthy individual. As a long time counselor and coach this is deeply engrained in me. My attitude follows the motto: “Laugh for health!” But quick inspiration isn’t always at hand. So, you too might be looking for a funny one line joke.
Laugh in your heart, your mouth will follow! – SPB
With this post I’m not only presenting you a selection of one liners, but I put them into context and I also try to collect them under a main topic, so you can find them for your purpose right away. Those created by me have my initials (SPB), otherwise the name of the author if known to me.
Two psychoanalysts meet, one begins: “How am I doing? How you’re doing, this I already know.” – SPB
“An Irishman walks out of the bar.”
For sure, this is one of the shortest jokes I know. “Instant” is the buzz word of our times. Everything has to be ready made, short and accessible as quick as possible. Jokes as well. So in a cynical way I could poke fun at one line jokes. Where has all the story telling gone, the narrative competence? What’s left is only a superficial consumption of literary fast food.
I would be superficial myself to maintain that verdict. Using language professionally, I know how hard it is to condense a rich, complex thought or story into a few words. Moreover some of my best insights were inspired by one liners. On the other hand, there’s a long tradition of one liners called epigrams or aphorisms.
Epigrams and Aphorisms
An aphorism can never be the whole truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half. – Karl Kraus
The art of writing epigrams is manifold and has a long tradition. It goes back to the Bible and Zen Buddhism, the Greeks and the Romans and permeates all of literary history, not the least on grave stones. The word epigram is derived from the Greek: ἐπίγραμμα epigramma meaning “inscription”. And aphorism (from Greek ἀφορισμός aphorismos, “delimitation”, “distinction” or “definition”) is a short saying, expressing a general truth or subtle observation in a tight form.
I just realized now how fascinating this topic is. But for the purpose for this post, I’ll have to hold myself back and give you a small glimpse into history’s rich heritage of one liners. They even may have been the first crystallization of written language. So we can start with the Bible.
Jokes in the Bible
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Prov 17:22
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Prov 4:23
It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife. – Prov 21:19
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. – Prov 16:18
If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. – Job 13:5
Koan in Zen Buddhism
This is a rather harsh and austere humor not easily accessable. But like all humor it’s a unique kind of dissolving identifications, for example with cherished thoughts or items, with pleasure and sorrow. These one liners have the purpose to send you on a journey to find the master within.
Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
If you meet the Buddha, kill him.
A monk asked Dongshan Shouchu, “What is Buddha?” Dongshan said, “Three pounds of flax.”
Greek and Roman aphorisms
In fact there’s a large Greek Anthology of poems and epigrams, which of course influenced the Roman authors. Here just a few examples:
Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgement difficult. – Hippocrates
“Man [is] the measure [of all things]”. -Protagoras
There is no glory in outstripping donkeys. – Marcus Valerius Martial
Best One Liner Jokes Ever
Today, I’m gonna visit myself. Hopefully I’m at home! – Karl Valentin
The shorter the one liners, the more blatant and crass they are. Keep in mind, that satire is part of humor too operating with ridicule and hyperbolism. If you push the limits even further with sarcasm, sharp and bitter remarks, all of a sudden you’ll find yourself in the realm of cynicism. This attitude can be characterized with lack of good will and trust. It’s the outermost range of humor, comparable to black or dark humor – a borderline case we may discuss in the comment section below.
Marriage, Family and Relationship
Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.
Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer.
Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.
My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.
If con is the opposite of pro, then is Congress the opposite of progress?
Diversity is just a code word for white genocide. – WretchedWhiteRabbit
If the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, then lefties are the only ones in their right mind.
We used to have Reagan, Jonny Cash, and Bob Hope. Now we have Obama, no cash, and no hope.
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
Q: What do a Christmas tree and a priest have in common?
A: Their balls are just for decoration.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
A Sunday school teacher asked her children on the way to service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”
As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 – 1799)
I absolutely love him! The German scientist and philosopher was a genius collecting his observations and insights in scrapbooks or Waste Books (German = Sudelbücher).
A book which, above all others in the world, should be forbidden, is a catalogue of forbidden books.
Even truth needs to be clad in new garments if it is to appeal to a new age.
Once we know our weaknesses they cease to do us any harm.
A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.
What is called an acute knowledge of human nature is mostly nothing but the observer’s own weaknesses reflected back from others.
A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents.
Man is to be found in reason, God in the passions.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
This is another great author I admire, the Irish novelist and poet. Like no one else, he coins his sharp and revealing observations and reflections into unforgettable one liners.
One can exist without art, but one cannot live without it. (Recently discovered)
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.
Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
I think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.
An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Science advances one funeral at a time. – Max Planck
Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station..
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Instead of “the John,” I call my toilet “the Jim.” That way it sounds better when I say I go to the Jim first thing every morning.
Laughter is the best medicine – except for the squits. – SPB
Please come back to this treasure trove every time you need some inspiration or healing for your mood, the tag cloud in the right colum will help you. And in case you’ve got some one liners too that are not among this collection, feel free to share them here in the comments. Especially if you know a one line remedy for the squits 😉 At any rate, let us know what’s on your mind.