Unintentional Humor

plan nine

Unintentional humor is the act of making other people laugh without actually meaning to. There are several different kinds of unintentional humor that arise out of various situations. It is possible for unintentional humor to arise when two different well-meaning people contribute independent pieces of information, but in combination, they contradict each other. A misstep in the (in)appropriate environment is often considered humorous, that is the tension or embarrassment it creates is released by laughter. Examples are misspeaks or falls by a famous individual, catching somebody at an official event with inappropriate manners or embarrassing body noises.

Some books, movies, and other literary works end up being unintentionally funny because they are comically clichéd or overwrought, despite appearing to be earnest and serious efforts by their creators. Examples are ‘so bad they’re good’ movies, such as ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space,’ and the style of bad writing celebrated by the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (where entrants are invited ‘to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels’).

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