This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 13:34 BST, Tuesday, 02 June 2009

Episode 199: Language Point

Alice in a lift at the hospital


When Alice says "Is this your idea of a joke?" she means "Do you think it (my fear of heights) isn't serious?" Here are some common expressions using the word joke as well as other vocabulary associated with comedy and jokes.


make / tell / crack a joke
tell a story in order to make people laugh
Example: She's always cracking jokes in the middle of meetings. The boss never thinks it's funny but the rest of us do.

take a joke
able to laugh when someone says something amusing about you and not be offended or hurt by it
Example: He's so sensitive about being short he hates it if you make a joke about his height. He's always making fun of other people but just can't take a joke when it's about him.

get the joke

understand what is funny when someone tells a joke
Example: Everyone was killing themselves laughing but he just didn't get the joke. He laughed a bit to cover his embarrassment but you could tell he just couldn't see what the joke was about.

see the joke
understand something funny or get the joke that's being made and find it funny yourself
Example: Everyone else laughed loudly but I didn't see the joke.

private joke which can only be understood by a limited group of people who have a special knowledge of something that is being talked about in the joke
Example: He's always making in-jokes. He never thinks what it's like for the rest of us who aren't in IT and who don't understand a word of them.

practical joke
joke that involves a physical action rather than words and which makes someone seem foolish
Example: She loves playing practical jokes on people. Last week, she set her mum's alarm clock two hours early. Her mum didn't think it was so funny when she turned up at work so early!

Parts of a joke

set-up / preamble
first part of a joke where a story or situation is explained
Example: He's one of those comedians who tells really long jokes. The preamble goes on for ages but then he delivers a punchline that makes it all worth the wait!

punch line / punchline
last part of a joke (after the set-up) when the amusing or funny part is explained or told
Example: ... And then I told them the punchline and there was complete silence. It was so embarrassing. Not one person laughed!

People who work in comedy

a comedian
someone who works in comedy
Example: Her stories are so funny. People are always telling her she should be a comedian.

a stand-up (comic / comedian)
someone who tells jokes on the stage
Example:He worked as a stand-up for years before he got his first role in a TV comedy series.

an impressionist
someone who works in comedy and impersonates famous people by speaking and/or looking like them
Example: She's a really good impressionist. If you close your eyes, it's just like Margaret Thatcher is right there in the room.

a ventriloquist someone who works in comedy, usually with a doll (or dummy) that s/he pretends can speak. The ventriloquist is actually doing the talking but without moving her/his lips so that it looks like the doll is talking
Example: You know that monkeys can't talk but she's such a good ventriloquist, you really start to believe those animals are speaking to you!

a double act
two people who work together in comedy
Example: Laurel and Hardy were one of the most famous double acts in Hollywood in the 1930s.


fear of being in a small or confined space
fears, things people are frightened of
make fun of
not take seriously
can't stand
any second

Episode 199 links

  1. Home
  2. The Flatmates
  3. Episode 199: Language Point