We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a One Liner?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Many traditional jokes begin with a premise, move on to a set-up, and end with a humorous punchline: "A panda walks into a bar. He eats a hamburger, then pulls out a pistol and fires into the air. He then runs out of the bar screaming 'I'm a panda, look it up!' The bartender gets out an encyclopedia and finds this entry: Panda — Eats shoots and leaves." Some jokes, however, do not need an elaborate premise or set-up to be funny. Such a short joke or witty observation is known as a one liner.

A one liner sets up a humorous situation or makes an ironic observation all within a sentence or two. "I once invested in toilet paper and turnstiles, but I was wiped out before I could turn around." would be a classic example of a one liner from the days of vaudeville or burlesque. Many Jewish comedians of the early 20th century honed their comedic skills by performing one liners and broad sight gags in resorts located in the Catskills mountains of New York, a region known in the comedy world as the "Borscht Belt."

One Borscht Belt comedian named Henny Youngman became known as the "King of the One Liner" because of his vast repertoire of short jokes and his impeccable comedic timing. His most memorable one liner, "Take my wife ... please," relied heavily on the audience's expectation of a much longer joke. Other comedians such as Jack Benny, Mort Sahl, Jackie Berman and Rodney Dangerfield also became famous because of their memorable one liners and self-deprecating humor. Dangerfield's one liner "I was so ugly as a kid, my mother used to tie a pork chop around my neck so the dogs would play with me" epitomizes the economy of thought involved in an effective one liner.

A number of modern comedians, including Steven Wright and the late Mitch Hedberg and George Carlin, turned the traditional one liner joke into wry observational comedy. Wright once observed "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it," while Hedberg routinely pointed out to audiences that his shirt was "dry-clean only, which means it's dirty." The modern one liner may not resemble its Borscht Belt ancestor, but audiences still respond well to short zingers such as Yo' Mama jokes and wry observations about the world around them.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By momothree — On Dec 02, 2010

Dangerfield’s death in 2004 was a tragedy for those of us who appreciated his good humor. To the others who posted on Rodney’s one-liners, thanks for reminding us that laughter is the essence of life. I would like to add my favorites to the list.

“I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her”.

“Once, somebody stole our car. I asked my wife if she saw who it was. She said she didn’t but that she took down the license number”.

“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy. I told him I wanted a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too”.

“At first I was ashamed, but I finally told my wife that I was seeing a psychiatrist. She said that it was okay because she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers, and a bartender.”

By GrumpyGuppy — On Nov 29, 2010

Rodney Dangerfield is my all-time favorite performer of one-liners. Whenever I can find a clean version, I love to share them. Here are some of my favorites:

Regarding age: Last year my birthday cake looked like a prairie fire

Regarding life: I was so depressed that I decided to jump from the tenth floor. They sent up a priest. He said “On your mark…”

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them”.

Regarding his wife: One day I came home early from work and I saw a guy jogging naked. I said to the guy “Hey buddy, why are you doing that?” They guy says “Because you came home early”.

By calabama71 — On Nov 28, 2010

I love a good funny one liner. Many comedians made a living off of their “one-liners”. Here are a few that I found:

Stewart Francis said “I quit my job at the helium factory because I refuse to be spoken to in that tone”.

“My mom bought me a memory pillow for my birthday. I don’t tell secrets in my bedroom anymore”. Unknown Author

Rodney Dangerfield said “If it wasn’t for pickpockets, I’d have no sex life at all”.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick

Writer

As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.