An American author and humorist, Mark Twain is known for his witty works, which include books, essays, short stories, speeches, and more.
While not every single piece of written work was infused with humor, many were, ranging from deadpan humor to laugh-out-loud funny.
And lastly, as only Twain would point out, ‘Do not bring your dog.’.
He recalled the first time he ‘removed’ (stole) a watermelon from a wagon; once he looked at it, he realized it was not yet ripe.
Twain explores this in the witty essay ‘The Awful German Language,’ which was first published in Appendix D in He describes the language as ‘perplexing’ with its ten different parts of speech, one sound meaning several different things, super long words, which he believes have their own ‘perspective,’ and so on.
After breaking down the language, Twain goes on to describe how he would ‘reform it.’ When it comes to these long compound words, for example, he would ‘require the speaker to deliver them in sections, with intermissions for refreshments.’In ‘How to Tell a Story,’ Twain discusses the humorous story, which he says is the ‘one difficult kind’ and purely American.
I think it is the worst I ever saw…’ He published everything as ‘The Jumping Frog: In English. Then Clawed Back into a Civilized Language Once More By Patient, Unremunerated Toil.’A satirical essay written in 1879, ‘A Presidential Candidate’ makes fun of the campaign process and explores the ideal candidate or in Twain’s words ‘a candidate who cannot be injured by investigation of his past history…’ If the candidate did, indeed, expose all his ‘wickedness’ then his opponents could not use his past against him.
A truly witty piece, some of the secrets revealed include the candidate burying his deceased aunt under his grapevines because ‘the vine needed fertilizing, my aunt had to be buried, and I dedicated her to this high purpose’ and his dislike for ‘the poor man.’While it is a funny short story, ‘Advice to Little Girls‘ also has deeper meaning: girls should think for themselves.
In 1865, Mark Twain wrote ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,’ a witty short story about a gambler named Jim Smiley as told by the bartender, Sam Wheeler.
A French writer, while liking the story and thinking it was funny, didn’t understand why it would cause anyone to laugh and translated the story into French in order prove his point.