38 Funny Stories in English

Humor is so much more than silly situations and funny words.

It is about the places we live in, the people who are with us, the events we experience and the problems we face.

In other words, humor is about the society in which it exists.

If you want to communicate really well, it is not enough to just know some English words—you need to know about the society and culture too. 

These humorous stories will make you laugh first, then think. Here are 38 funny stories in English to get you started!


1. “Captain Underpants” by Dave Pilkey

Good for: Young learners

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

This book is simple and clever. It is about two boys, George and Harold, who like to draw comics. They are famous pranksters in their school.

One day their principal catches them and makes them do his chores. The boys hypnotize their principal and make him into a superhero they drew—Captain Underpants.

The story reveals a lot about the relationship between adults and children. The book is filled with funny cartoons and jokes that are sometimes disgusting but always entertaining.

Funny quote:

“George and Harold were usually responsible kids. Whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible.”

2. “XO, OX: A Love Story” by Adam Rex

Good for: Beginner learners

XO, OX: A Love Story

Have you ever wondered about the love stories of gazelles or oxen? This book proves that if such a relationship ever became real, then it would be hilarious!

The story is told through a collection of letters where a love-struck Ox tries to impress a celebrity Gazelle. The joyful illustrations make the book truly memorable.

This may seem like it is a book for children, but adults can understand the theme of unrequited love and appreciate the way the author plays with language.

Funny quote:

“You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running away from tigers.”

3. “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey” by Mark Twain

Good for: Upper-intermediate to advanced students

Hunting the Deceitful Turkey

Considered one of the funniest turkey tales in American literature, Twain recounts a true incident where he tries to shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

The story is a humorous account of his failure. It also relates to the American holiday of Thanksgiving, where turkey is the main dish in the feast.

Since the story was written in 1906, you might read some words which are not commonly used anymore. For instance, the word “swindler” means “cheat” or “fraud.”

It might be helpful to have access to a good English dictionary while you read this. You can also read the story online here.

Funny quote:

“Lie low, keep still, don’t expose yourself; I shall be back soon as I have beguiled this shabby swindler out of the country.”

4. “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” by Jenny Lawson

Good for: Mature intermediate learners

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Have you ever felt that you did not fit in, or that you were strange, weird or awkward? The author of this book felt like that throughout her life.

There are tales about her sister going to school in a bird costume, her “message-board” cat, her relationship and more. Her story is equal parts funny and enlightening (something which makes you aware).

The core message is that the moments that embarrass us are really the ones that define us. If you are still unsure about the book, you can read this article by The Washington Post to see if you’re interested.

Funny quote:

“Also, I stapled a picture of us from our wedding day to the cat’s left leg. Don’t we look happy? We can be that way again.”

5. “The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year” by Sue Townsend

Good for: Intermediate learners

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year

Eva, the main character, is frustrated with her family. When her children leave home, she climbs into bed and stays there.

She refuses to be a dutiful wife to her indifferent husband, and she stops being an ideal mother to her careless children. Soon, unexpected things start happening. The true face of every person in the household starts to come out.

The novel is comical but also seeks to question traditional family roles. For a more detailed overview, read this review by The Guardian.

Funny quote:

“Brian kept the photograph inside an old Bible. He knew it would be safe there. Nobody ever opened it.”

6. “Em and the Big Hoom” by Jerry Pinto

Good for: Mature intermediate students

Em and the Big Hoom: A Novel

Madness is usually seen as a very clinical topic. Mad people are distant and mysterious. They are reduced to their disorders and their humanity is often ignored.

This novel narrates a story about a woman who lives with bipolar disorder. The narrator is her son who is trying to figure out what is happening while exploring his parents’ past.

The unique characters and interesting observations about the family and their way of coping with Em, the mother, make the book humorous while also keeping the human element of all the characters.

Funny quote:

“Honestly, I don’t understand Zen. It seems if you don’t answer properly, or if you are rude, people get enlightened.”

7. “The Sellout: A Novel” by Paul Beatty

Good for: Intermediate learners


This is a satire that won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2016. It is a sharp, witty story about an African American protagonist (main character) who was born in a middle-class family.

Raised by a single father, he dreams of making his life better. But when his father is killed in a police shooting, he decides he needs to take a radical step.

The novel is funny and goes deep into the heart of American society. To know why it won one of the most famous awards in the world, read this review.

Funny quote:

“If New York is the ‘city that never sleeps,’ then Los Angeles is the ‘city that’s always passed out on the couch.'”

8. “How to Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran

Good for: Mature intermediate learners

How to Build a Girl: A Novel (P.S. (Paperback))

This story is about killing a 14-year-old girl to build a new one. It is not literally about murder, but rather, it is a story about growing up as a girl.

The protagonist is named Johanna. She renames herself Dolly Wilde when she decides to change her life. She goes through a very intimate journey to become the woman she wants to be.

This is a witty story about being free and what it means to be free. You can read a fantastic review of this book here.

Funny quote:

“There’s no point in drinking if no one’s watching.”

9. “Something Fresh” by P.G. Wodehouse

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

Something Fresh

P.G. Wodehouse’s novels are always filled with humorous characters, and plots with as many twists as the number of holes in Swiss cheese.

In this tale, a series of events are set into motion when a precious art piece is stolen from the castle of Mr. J. Preston Peters. There are detectives, imposters and marriages that go wrong.

This is a classic story that never fails to be funny and interesting. Here is a short review of the novel.

Funny quote:

“It’s very kind of you to keep offering me your dead mouse; but honestly I have no use for it.”

10. “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde

Good for: Upper-beginner learners

The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel

This is a fantasy book that takes place in Britain. Jane Eyre, one of the most famous literary heroines in history, has been kidnapped. A detective is asked to save her before it is too late.

The story is set in a world where people can literally enter novels, time travel is real and cloning is commonplace.

The novel manages to be funny while talking about a society under the rule of a dictator. Here is a brief review of the book.

Funny quote:

“I shouldn’t believe anything I say if I were you. And that includes what I just told you.”

11. “The Lumber Room” by Saki

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

cover of "the lumber room" by saki

Adults often treat children as people who are less intelligent. In this story, Nicholas easily tricks his strict aunt and outsmarts her throughout the story.

Saki is famous for writing about characters who are not only funny but also use their minds to change the situation they are stuck in.

There are some advanced words in the story. “Obstinacy” means “stubbornness,” or the quality of being stubborn. “Debarred” means to exclude or ban someone from doing something.

Funny quote:

“The dramatic part of the incident was that there really was a frog in Nicholas’s basin of bread-and-milk; he had put it there himself, so he felt entitled to know something about it.”

12. “The Crocodile” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Good for: Upper-beginner students

The Crocodile

Ivan Matveich is swallowed alive when he goes to see a crocodile with his wife and a friend.

He finds himself quite comfortable inside the animal and refuses to come out. What follows is a hilarious story which has become a classic.

Originally published in 1865 in Russian, the story might contain some confusing words. For instance, “arcade” is an old word used for a covered passage where people used to go for entertainment.

This tale can be read online as well.

Funny quote:

“‘Alive and well,’ answered Ivan Matveitch, ‘and, thanks to the Almighty, swallowed without any damage whatever.'”

13. “The Nose” by Nicholas Gogol

Good for: Beginner learners

The Nose

“The Nose” is a satirical story about a person named Kovalyov whose nose leaves his face and decides to have a life of its own.

In a hilarious series of events, the nose actually moves above Kovalyov in official ranks to become his senior in the government.

This was written in 1836 to comment on how Russian society was obsessed with social status. You might notice uncommon words like “propriety,” which means to have good manners and act according to social rules.

This story can also be found online here.

Funny quote:

“The nose looked at the Major and frowned a little.”

14. “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry

Good for: Beginner learners

The Ransom of Red Chief (Tale Blazers)

Two men kidnap a boy who turns out to be so mischievous that they ultimately return him to his father and give their own money to his family instead.

Originally published in 1907, this story still makes readers laugh out loud. O. Henry managed to create a story that is remembered throughout generations.

Funny quote:

“‘If you don’t behave,’ says I, ‘I’ll take you straight home. Now, are you going to be good, or not?’ (This was said by the kidnapper.)”

15. “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome

Good for: Upper-beginner students

Three Men in a Boat

This book was originally intended to be a serious memoir, but the funny elements soon took over and the writer decided to publish it as a humorous tale.

The story is about three men who take a boat ride on the river Thames in England and describe funny things they encounter throughout the journey.

Here is a full review of the book.

Funny quote:

“George goes to sleep at a bank from ten to four each day, except Saturdays, when they wake him up and put him outside at two.”

16. “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Poole

Good for: Upper-intermediate to advanced students

A Confederacy of Dunces

This book was published after the author died and won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

This novel is about Ignatius Reilly, a fat man with a funny hat. The story includes a parrot attack, a revolt to impress a girlfriend and many accidents.

It is best for advanced English learners. The word “dunce” refers to a stupid person and the word “confederacy” means a union or group of people who agree to work together.

Funny quote:

“I mingle with my peers or no one. And since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.”

17. “Puckoon” by Spike Milligan

Good for: Intermediate learners


Puckoon is a novel set in 1924. That year, Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. You can read the historical background here.

In the novel, the border cuts through the middle of a village named Puckoon and divides a house into two.

What follows is a comical journey. In fact, the protagonist is so lazy that the narrator has to intervene to make sure he does something in the story!

Funny quote:

“Many people die of thirst but the Irish are born with one.”

18. “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen

Good for: Young learners

I Want My Hat Back

This charming and darkly amusing book is for beginners, and specifically younger learners.

The story is simple, engaging and very funny. There are several animals, personalities and settings you can experience in this short story.

There are also some live readings and animations available online as well.

Funny quote:

“‘Have you seen my hat?’ asks the bear. ‘What is a hat?’ the animal replies.”

19. “The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss

Good for: Beginner learners

The Sneetches and Other Stories

This collection contains four Dr. Seuss short stories. It include the hilarious poem “Too Many Daves,” which is a silly tale about a mother who names all of her 23 sons Dave.

This story is great for phonetic practice, as some of the names contain unfamiliar words and sounds, which can be challenging but still fun to read.

Many native English speakers grow up reading Dr. Seuss books, so this is a great way to experience a style of writing that many people are familiar with.

Funny quote:

“She often wishes that, when they were born, she had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.”

20. “The Ushuaia Rabbit” by Fernando Sorrentino

Good for: Intermediate students

This surreal yet engaging short story is great for intermediate learners who want a vocabulary challenge.

It is about a strange and unbelievable creature. There are some excellent words and descriptions in this entertaining tale.

Note that this story does require a little extra patience, because it is a fiction (not true) story.

Funny quote:

“But we can’t expect blood from a turnip or any intelligence whatsoever from journalists.”

21. “Death by Scrabble” by Charlie Fish

Good for: Intermediate students

Here is another great short story for intermediate learners. This tale is amusing from the opening line (see the quote below) right until the end.

The story focuses on a game of Scrabble between a man and his wife. The tense feeling builds up to an unexpected ending.

The game Scrabble involves building words out of letter tiles to earn points. Both the game and the story are great ways to practice and learn vocabulary.

Funny quote:

“It’s a hot day and I hate my wife.”

22. “Do You Speak English?” by Simon Collings

Good for: Intermediate learners

This story may be too difficult for absolute beginners, but the subject matter is engaging for language students.

It touches on the difficulties of traveling without knowing a language—a topic many language learners can relate to!

While it is not the funniest story on the list, you may understand the feelings of the characters who cannot speak directly to each other.

Funny quote:

“The boy named a price which was five times what he would have got for it locally.”

23. “The Great Automatic Grammatizator” by Roald Dahl

Good for: Upper-beginner business students

The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories. Roald Dahl (Puffin Teenage Books)

This is an interesting and thought-provoking tale about the English language. The points about grammar and creativity are things that all English students can relate to.

It is a particularly good story for business English students because the setting is a corporate business. The main character wants to invent a machine to do the job of a writer.

The story is especially relevant today with the rise of AI technology. There is some technical vocabulary, but don’t worry—it’s still an entertaining tale.

You can also read it online here.

Funny quote:

“Why doesn’t he stand up straight? He looks like a bent stick.”

24. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney

Good for: Beginner learners

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1

This book might be about a school boy, but you can enjoy it even if you haven’t been in school for years.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is about a middle school boy who deals with school and family issues.

The easy writing and cute illustrations (drawings) make this a great book for easy English language reading.

Funny quote:

“First of all, let me get something straight: This is a JOURNAL, not a diary.”

25. “Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson

Good for: Beginner learners

Calvin and Hobbes (Volume 1)

“Calvin and Hobbes” is not a regular book: It’s a comic book!

The adventures of little boy Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend Hobbes are classics, loved by many over the years.

Even if you don’t like comic books, give this one a try—you might be surprised at how clever and thoughtful the humor is.

Funny quote:

“So long, pop! I’m off to check my tiger trap!”

26. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl

Good for: Upper-beginner learners


Roald Dahl (already mentioned above) is known for his many children’s stories. You might have heard of “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” in fact.

In “The BFG,” Dahl creates another charming and slightly scary world in which a girl and a giant team up to protect children from becoming dinner.

As a children’s book, it’s simple enough for beginning English speakers, but as an older children’s book, it can also be a little challenging in parts.

Funny quote:

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”

27. “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

Good for: Beginner learners

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi’s full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking.

She lives in a huge mansion with her pet horse and friend monkey, and dreams of the day her father will return from the ocean.

Pippi’s many adventures and stories are as crazy as they are funny. She’s a lovable child who will remind you how to be a child yourself!

Funny quote:

“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

28. “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green

Good for: Intermediate students

An Abundance of Katherines

Colin had a girlfriend named Katherine. Actually, he had 19 of them—and they all dumped him (broke up with him).

He sets out in a car with a friend to travel across the country, where he has many laughs and life lessons…and no Katherines.

“An Abundance of Katherines” is a funny, heartwarming book about finding out who you really are.

Funny quote:

“The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath.”

29. “Queen of the Road” by Doreen Orion

Good for: Intermediate students

Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own

If you like the idea of traveling across the country like in the previous book, but would rather do it with a shopaholic, shoe-loving, Long Island “princess,” this is the book for you.

“Queen of the Road” is Doreen’s tale of her and her husband Tim’s travels. They visit strange places in 47 U.S. states, giving you a look into life in the lesser-known parts of the country.

Even better, this is a memoir—which means it’s a true story that really happened to the author!

Funny quote:

“When my long-dreaded thirtieth birthday arrived, I really wasn’t as upset as I imagined I’d be, for I had achieved a much more important milestone: my sartorial centennial. I owned one hundred pairs of shoes.”

30. “Another Fine Myth” by Robert Asprin

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

Another Fine Myth (Myth, Book 1)

Fantasy lovers, don’t worry—there are lots of funny fantasy and science fiction books too!

Robert Asprin’s Myth series is about a group of strange companions who go on adventures together, trying not to kill each other on the way.

The first book in the series, “Another Fine Myth” introduces the main character Skeeve, a magician’s apprentice and thief. Join the adventure and laugh at the company’s misfortune!

Funny quote:

“One of the few redeeming facets of instructors, I thought, is that occasionally they can be fooled.”

31. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris

Good for: Upper-beginner to intermediate students

Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Sedaris is a humorist who writes about life and the world, making you laugh at even the most serious moments.

“Me Talk Pretty One Day” is a collection of short stories from his life, from trying to learn French to dealing with his lisp (inability to pronounce the letter “s”).

Sedaris has a very friendly way of writing, as if he is telling you his story in person, which makes it fun and fairly easy to read at any level.

Funny quote:

“Like all of my friends, she’s a lousy judge of character.”

32. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey

Good for: Intermediate students


Tina Fey is well known as a comedian on “Saturday Night Live” and a few other TV shows, including the popular “30 Rock.”

In this book, she talks about what it was like to grow up from a strange little girl to a strange little girl on TV.

Tina Fey has a very unique sense of humor, so if you liked any of her shows or her “Saturday Night Live” acting, then you’ll enjoy this book.

Funny quote:

“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”

33. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

Good for: Upper-intermediate to advanced students

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Imagine you wake up one day to find that your home is about to be destroyed to make room for a road.

Now imagine this is happening to the entire Earth, to make room for a space road for aliens. You would probably do the only thing you can: Get a ride from some passing aliens and hope for the best.

Some of the language in this classic book can be tough, but the amount of laughs you will get will make it worth it!

Funny quote:

“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”

34. “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde

Good for: Upper-intermediate to advanced students

The Importance of Being Earnest (Dover Thrift Editions: Plays)

Being earnest means being truthful. But Ernest is also a name. “The Importance of Being Earnest” takes these two ideas and plays with them for the entire story.

This book is actually a play. It is old but still easy to understand, as it deals with how funny rich people and the upper class can be.

There is a lot of lying and silly mishaps (unlucky accidents) that can make this play difficult to follow for an English learner, but it’s fun and highly recommended if you’re a bit more advanced.

Funny quote:

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

35. “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Good for: Advanced students

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (Cover may vary)

The apocalypse is coming and the world is about to end, and all it needs is one very important boy. Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to find him.

In this hilarious story, an angel and a demon have to forget about their differences and work together to stop the world from ending.

Written by two expert storytellers, “Good Omens” is a fun ride through their version of what really happens in the Bible’s Book of Revelations.

Funny quote:

“It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn’t been invented yet.”

36. “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

Modern Romance

What’s it like to have a relationship today? Comedian Aziz Ansari (known for his role in the TV show “Parks and Recreation”) tries to understand what it’s like to find love in the modern age.

“Modern Romance” mixes science with humor for a book that will make you laugh as much as it will teach you about love in the 21st century.

Funny quote:

“While we may think we know what we want, we’re often wrong.”

37. “Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Autobiographies tell the story of the author’s life. Choose Your Own Adventure stories are adventures in which you are the hero, and you choose where the story goes next.

So, how did actor Neil Patrick Harris manage to put the two together? “Choose Your Own Autobiography” is the story of Harris’s life… as if you are him.

Go through his life and make his decisions for him with this creative book. It’s funny and interesting, and perfect if you’re looking for a more unique kind of humor.

Funny quote:

“You, Neil Patrick Harris, are born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 15, 1973, at what you’re pretty sure is St. Joseph’s Hospital, although it’s hard to be certain as the whole experience leaves you a little blurry.”

38. “The De-Textbook” by Cracked

Good for: Intermediate to advanced students

The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew

You might be surprised at how much of what you learned in school is wrong. For example: Dinosaurs don’t look like lizards—they have feathers!

In this book, you will learn that we don’t have only five senses, chameleons don’t change color to blend in with their surroundings, and other interesting facts about the world, history and yourself.

“The De-Textbook” has some crude (rude) humor, and it also makes many references to pop culture and history. You can use this book to learn new facts and learn about culture, internet humor and more.

Funny quote:

“Remember: Nature hates you so much that pretty much everything around you right now is actively trying to kill you.”

Why and How to Learn English from Funny Books

You probably already know why you should read funny books to learn English… It’s fun!

Learning English with humor gives you several other great benefits, though:

  • Humor is culture specific. This means if you understand the humor, you understand the culture.
  • Humor often uses puns (word play). Many jokes in English play with words and their meanings, so if you understand a pun, you understand the different meanings (and possible mistakes!) that an English word can have.
  • Humor makes things easier to remember. You can try memorizing a word and its definition, or you can tell a funny story with it. Which do you think you’ll remember better?

Now, to really get the most from reading these funny books, try using these tips:

  • Read with a pen and paper nearby. This way you can easily write notes, unfamiliar words or questions that you have as you read.
  • Focus on phrases, not just words. Knowing word definitions is important, but knowing how to use the words is even more important. Be sure to pay attention to phrases so you can really understand how the words work.
  • Discuss the books with others. One great way to enjoy a book is to share it with other people. Read the same book as your friend(s), then talk about it. You can even join a local book club and go to their meetings.
  • If you can’t meet in person, use the internet. It’s even easier to find someone reading the same book as you thanks to the internet. Join a book website like Goodreads and you can find other people discussing the funny books that interest you.

You also don’t have to stop at these books—if you love to learn and laugh, there are many other resources out there for you to use. Humor is everywhere!

You can watch English comedy shows and movies, or even hilarious YouTube videos or commercials. You can also use a program like FluentU, which has a library of English videos made by and for native speakers with plenty of learning tools.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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After reading these funny stories in English, hopefully you will have a good laugh and also be able to add a touch of humor to your own English conversations.

Happy reading!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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