25 Clever Jokes That Make You Sound Smart

If you want to find out how it feels to sound smart, try out some of these clever jokes.

By Andy Simmons
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine September 2014

genius jokesSteve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest

THE SMARTEST JOKE I ever heard was so clever, I didn’t get it. It had to be explained to me seven times before I sort of got it. By the eighth explanation, I’d wised up enough to say, “Oh, now I get it,” just to shut them up. Here it is: “Counting in binary is as easy as 01 10 11.” I’m still not sure I get it, but I tell it all the time just so I sound smart. (Here’s the kind of joke I like: “What did 0 say to 8? Nice belt.”)

If you want to find out how it feels to sound smart, try out some of these jokes. Still confused? I tried explaining each below, in bold.

These gags, held in high esteem among the literati, are best told while wearing a smoking jacket and a smug smile.

• JOKE 1:

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

“Am I missing something? There’s no response.” That’s because rhetorical questions don’t get one. “Am I a dolt or what?” Umm …is that a rhetorical question?

• JOKE 2:

A pun, a play on words, and a limerick walk into a bar. No joke.

The joke wasn’t there because it was busy parking the car.

• JOKE 3:

Oh, man! A hyperbole totally ripped into this bar and destroyed everything!

A hyperbole is an exaggerated claim. No, really, realllllllllllyyyyy exaggerated. I mean, like, the most exaggerated thing in the history of ever!!

• JOKE 4:

This sentence contains exactly threeee erors.

The third error? The fact that there are only two errors. The fourth error? Running this gag.

• JOKE 5:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


To who?

No, to whom.

I always get this wrong, to (or is that “too” … “Two?”)

funny brain illustrationSteve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest
Nothing has scrambled more brains than the sight of numerals waiting to be added, subtracted, divided, multiplied, or fractioned. So if you can tell a digit-laden joke without stumbling, get ready for a phone call from Mensa!

• JOKE 6:

Q: How do mathematicians scold their children?

A: “If I’ve told you n times, I’ve told you n+1 times …”

N is a placeholder for a number. Adding one makes it one more than whatever n is. We could have used X, but this is a family magazine.

• JOKE 7:

A mathematician wanders back home at 3 a.m. and proceeds to get an earful from his wife.

“You’re late!” she yells. “You said you’d be home by 11:45!”

“Actually,” the mathematician replies coolly, “I said I’d be home by a quarter of 12.”

Divide 12 by 4, or a quarter. Now do you get it? (I didn’t. Someone had to tell me to do that.)

• JOKE 8:

Did you hear about the mathematician who’s afraid of negative numbers?

He will stop at nothing to avoid them.

The only time nothing is negative is under the Christmas tree. So when counting down, happily stop at nothing—or zero—to avoid the dreaded negative numbers.

• JOKE 9:

A recent finding by statisticians shows the average human has one breast and one testicle.

The world’s population is split sort of evenly between men and women, making the average human part male, part female, and a complete pain to shop for.

Unless their instrument is the triangle, musicians are looked upon as highly cultured. Leach off their reputation with these:

• JOKE 10:

Why did Beethoven get rid of his chickens? All they said was, “Bach, Bach, Bach …”

And his cows preferred Moo-zak.

• JOKE 11:

C, E-flat, and G walk into a bar. The bartender shows them the door and says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors.”

By themselves, the musical notes C, E-flat, and G are simply tones, neither major nor minor. But when played all at once, they form a C-minor chord. This had the gang in the orchestra pit howling.

• JOKE 12:

A sign at a music shop: “Gone Chopin. Bach in a minuet.”

The Lizst of funny music puns is not long. In fact, anyone caught telling one often ends up in Haydn.

• JOKE 13:

Q: What was Beethoven’s favorite fruit?


Who knew that the opening strands of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony were an homage to his favorite fruit?

funny brain illustrationSteve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest
To me, a periodic table is what opens up whenever I walk into a fancy restaurant. But telling these science-y gags screams, “Behold! I am that person who did not blow up my chemistry class.”

• JOKE 14:

A photon is going through airport security. The TSA agent asks if he has any luggage. The photon says, “No, I’m traveling light.”

Photons are particles representing an amount of light. This particular photon didn’t need a suitcase because it was going to a nudist convention.

• JOKE 15:

What did the DNA say to the other DNA? “Do these genes make me look fat?”

This works on many levels: as word play (genes vs. jeans) and because one’s genes can determine body shape (that, plus the 12 sundaes they’re in the midst of eating).

• JOKE 16:

The bartender says, “We don’t serve time travelers in here.”

A time traveler walks into a bar.

Wait, did our copy editor fall into some cosmic wormhole? No, we just told the middle of the joke first, followed by the beginning. The time traveler hasn’t arrived at the end yet.

• JOKE 17:

Did you hear about the suicidal homeopath? He took 1/50th of the recommended dose.

Homeopathy holds that a substance, which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in far smaller doses to treat those same symptoms. We’re trying this with our jokes column. We’re injecting our readers with small doses of eye-rolling.

funny brain illustrationSteve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest
Religion is fraught with roiling self-doubt and unwavering faith. Show you’re well aware of the issues by sharing these jests (and be sure to call them a jest, which sounds way smarter than a joke!)…

• JOKE 18:

A ship, sailing past a remote island, spots a man who has been stranded there for several years. The captain goes ashore to rescue the man and notices three huts.

“What’s the first hut for?” he asks.

“That’s my house,” says the castaway.

“What’s the second hut for?”

“That’s my church.”

“And the third hut?”

“Oh, that?” sniffs the castaway. “That’s the church I used to go to.”

Even on an island of one, religion can be a tricky issue.

• JOKE 19:

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.”

Being one with everything means experiencing a supernatural bond with the entire universe. A hot dog with everything means experiencing a supernatural bond with mustard and sauerkraut.

• JOKE 20:

A man is talking to God. “God, how long is a million years?”

God answers, “To me, it’s about a minute.”

“God, how much is a million dollars?”

“To me, it’s a penny.”

“God, may I have a penny?”

“Wait a minute.”

Time is relative, especially to the entity that invented it.

funny brain illustrationSteve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest
Is it your hope to impress upon people that you’ve been around the globe a few times, even though a walk into the living room is too far? Trot out these worldly gags:

• JOKE 21:

If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine.

You’d have to be nuts to jump into the Seine, which is the river that runs through Paris.

• JOKE 22:

Your mama is so classless, she could be a Marxist utopia.

Marxists oppose class structures. That’s because when Marx was a little boy he hated school.

• JOKE 23:

A German walks into a bar and asks for a martini. The bartender asks, “Dry?”

The German replies, “Nein, just one.”

“Drei”—pronounced “dry”—is German for “three”. “Nein”—pronounced “nine”—is German for “No”. “Dieser Witz stinkt” is German for “This joke stinks.”

• JOKE 24:

René Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Would you like a beer?”

Descartes replies, “I think not,” and promptly disappears.

The French philosopher’s most famous line is “I think, therefore I am.” His least famous line: “Is this seat taken?”

• JOKE 25:

Did you hear about the weekly poker game with Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Leif Erikson, and Francisco Pizarro? They can never seem to beat the Straights of Magellan.

When his fellow explorers found Magellan hiding an Ace up his sleeve, they sent him packing to southern Chile toward the Straits of Magellan.

  • Your Comments

    • Isabelita Gallardo Paranada

      oh I see..I am surprising..you know and a little bit exaggerated..lol..I still like my old profile picture,,you know, it seems my face like a virgin..joke only…

    • Isabelita Gallardo Paranada

      I am not joking today. but.I smile about the pronounciation of the drei and dry..nein and nine….and I like most of the Joke 20…

    • CSCS7

      My favorites are 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 14, 15. Some only work when read, like #4.

    • Brian Gordon

      JOKE 13 would be funnier if the answer referenced Beethoven’s Fifth, that starts that way …

    • Inquisitive

      Joke 14
      The tickling point of the joke is that ‘travelling light’ is the pun on ‘travelling without luggage’ in answer to TSA and the ‘property of photon electromagnetic wave is light’.

    • Frank

      Ba na na aaaaaa sounds more like the opening of the 5th symphony than the 9th. Does RD know the difference?