Are these the funniest Halloween jokes ever told?

By Danny Robins

This Halloween, as ghouls, skellingtons and the undead knock on their neighbours’ doors and terrifyingly demand fun-size confectionary, the creepy moonlit night will echo with a familiar sound – not werewolves’ howls, zombie moans or Texan chainsaws – but instead, laughter.

From pumpkins carved with the face of Donald Trump, to movies like Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead and the excellent vampire mockumentary, What We Do In the Shadows, human beings have always reached for humour as a way of dealing with scary stuff. Jokes are a light-switch for our fears, if you can laugh about the thing that scares you, it shoos the darkness away.

Two cannibals were eating a clown – one said to the other: “Does he taste funny to you?"
Tommy Cooper

At first glance, fear and laughter might seem opposite ends of the spectrum – an amusing Dr Jekyll to a pant-pooping Mr Hyde – but they have more in common than you think.

Some psychologists suggest that both have the same stimuli – incongruity and transgression. Take the starting point of a wild bear loose in your house. It’s incongruous, it transgresses social norms. Can you imagine it? An actual wild bear destroying your house? It’s the basis for a properly scary ‘phone ahead to the dry cleaners and tell them to expect your trousers’ movie. But what if that bear is Paddington?

There’s an old quote that ‘farce is tragedy sped up’. Joe Orton plays and Hannibal Lecter films both involve people dragging dead bodies about, but one makes us laugh and the other makes us slightly wary of the man who lives next door and makes sawing noises in his basement late at night.

Perhaps this blurred line between making people chuckle or jump is why so many comedians have gone into writing and directing horror movies recently. There seems to be a vogue for funny people turning their hand to freaking us out. Most successfully, Jordan Peele – one half of hilarious sketch duo Key and Peele – whose debut film Get Out won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In the UK, comedy actress Alice Lowe, known for her work on Horrible Histories, gave us the Prevenge, a murderous movie she directed and starred in whilst actually pregnant, and Matthew Holness, her co-star on Channel 4’s horror pastiche Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, has directed the unsettling Possum, released this Halloween.

Some of my favourite horror films blend shocks and laughs like uppers and downers. Wes Craven’s Scream, for instance, where one moment you’re being lured in with a bit of comedy, only to be hit by the sucker punch of blood and gore. It’s like a DJ crossfading between Spandau Ballet’s Gold and Iron Maiden’s Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter.

Perhaps ultimately, it all boils down to our very human fear of death, which let’s face it, is what Halloween was always about, before we got side-tracked by sweets and sexy vampire costumes. We might be able to escape Freddie Krueger, Friday the 13th’s Jason or Halloween’s Michael Myers, but no one can ever escape the Grim Reaper, and there are really only two ways of dealing with that – quaking in our boots or cracking jokes.

So this Hallowe’en, here is a selection of some of the best one-liners about all things scary and supernatural.

Why not try them out on some trick or treaters?

And remember, when you are sitting alone in the dark and you hear a strange creaky noise on the stairs, it might not be a ghost, it could be Mr Bean about to amusingly slide down them…

11 Great Halloween One-Liners

Jimmy Carr - “It’s actually easy to tell if your house is haunted. It isn’t. Grow up.”

Tim Vine - “So I saw this bloke who was a cross between an ostrich and a serial killer. He was always burying other people’s heads in the sand.”

Milton Jones - “I was walking along today and on the road I saw a small baby ghost. Although thinking about it, it might have been a handkerchief.”

Mike Birbiglia - “Halloween is the one day of the year when it’s ok to ask 'what are you?'”

Tony Cowards - “The best way to annoy Count Dracula? Make him a little cross.”

Maura Quint - “For Halloween, I’m dressing up as my potential and getting wasted.”

Robin Williams - “If it’s the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone number?”

Kristen Schaal - “I often wonder, if you were to send a werewolf to the moon, would he be a werewolf permanently?”

Chris Dugdale - “How many people here are psychic? Raise my hand.”

Tim Vine - “I have spent the afternoon re-arranging the furniture in Dracula’s house… I was doing a bit of Fang-Shui.”

Maura Quint - “Halloween used to be the holiday where you went out of your way to be scared but now we just call that reading the news.”

Frighteningly funny from BBC Radio 4