A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

30 Funny Examples of Irony in Real Life

The definition of irony: a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems the opposite of what you expected. When it comes to finding examples of irony, life proves stranger (and funnier) than fiction. These ironic examples will raise anyone's eyebrows and bring a laugh or two.

1 / 31
High Angle View Of People's Praying Hands On Holy Bible

What’s ironic about the Bible?

In one of the most interesting irony examples, the most shoplifted book in America is The Bible.

2 / 31
3 / 31

What’s ironic about Alcoholics Anonymous?

The founder of AA asked for whiskey on his deathbed. (The nurse refused.) These are the 51 funniest things to ever happen at a doctor’s office.

4 / 31

What’s ironic about McDonald’s?

In one of the more hilarious examples of irony, McDonalds’ employee health page, which is now shut down, once warned against eating McDonald’s burgers and fries.

5 / 31
charlie brown christmas
Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about A Charlie Brown Christmas?

Every year ABC cuts down A Charlie Brown Christmas—a movie about the over-commercialization of the holidays—to make room for more commercials.

6 / 31
charlie chaplin
Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Charlie Chaplin?

He once entered a “Charlie Chaplin walk” contest… and came in 20th. If you think these ironic examples are funny, these hilarious classroom stories are guaranteed to give you a laugh.

7 / 31
Stop sign in front of historic old buildings with windows and fire escape at the intersection of Howard and Mercer Streets in Lower Manhattan, New York City NYC
Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about the inventor of the stop sign?

“Father of Traffic Safety” William Eno invented the stop sign, crosswalk, traffic circle, one-way street, and taxi stand—but never learned how to drive. A prime example of irony, as he never got the chance to benefit from his own invention. Don’t miss these anti-jokes that are so unfunny, they’re funny.

8 / 31

What’s ironic about the Church of Scientology?

The Cult Awareness Network (CAN), once a leading anti-cult hotline, is now owned by the Church of Scientology.

9 / 31
al capone

What’s ironic about Al Capone?

Al Capone’s older brother was a federal Prohibition agent. Check out these witty bar jokes that everyone can remember.

10 / 31
Scoring the winning points at a basketball game

What’s ironic about the man who invented basketball?

The only losing basketball coach in University of Kansas history is James Naismith—the man who invented basketball in 1891. This hilarious example of irony proves that just because you thought of the idea doesn’t always mean you’ll be the best at executing it.

11 / 31
pizza hut

What’s ironic about Pizza Hut?

Before 2012, the largest purchaser of kale in America was Pizza Hut. They used it as garnish around their salad bars. Here are some funny work cartoons to get you through the week.

12 / 31
Julius Caesar statue with church of Saint Luca e Martina on the background - a bronze copy of the statue in the Capitol
Natalia Macheda/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Julius Caesar?

The site where Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC is now a no-kill animal shelter for homeless cats.

13 / 31
alexander graham bell
F&A Archive/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Alexander Graham Bell?

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone but refused to keep one in his study. He feared it would distract him from his work. Here are 14 history jokes only history buffs will understand.

14 / 31

What’s ironic about duct tape?

According to researchers, duct tape should never be used for sealing ducts. Talk about funny ironic examples!

15 / 31
Entrance of Ice Bar at Ice Hotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, Kiruna

What’s ironic about a hotel made of ice?

Another funny example of irony, Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel has a smoke detector.

16 / 31
Niagara Falls from USA Landscape View
Mikhail Kolesnikov/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about a man who survived going over Niagara Falls?

The first man to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel died after slipping on an orange peel.

17 / 31
Correction pen and set of dried white fluid isolated on grey background. Mainly used to correct typewriting in the past or now mostly cover hand writing mistakes. With clipping path already included.
William Potter/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about the inventor of Liquid Paper?

She was fired from her secretarial job for failing to white-out a mistake. If you’re laughing at these irony examples, you’ll love these 50 bad jokes that you can’t help but laugh at.

18 / 31
Letter R stands on white table
Iryna Demydenko/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about a speech disorder?

The condition of not being able to pronounce the letter R is called… “rhotacism.”

19 / 31
cotton bud, swab clean health care on white background
ang intaravichian/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Q-tips?

Q-tips, which are usually bought primarily to clean inside your ears, are sold in boxes that expressly warn: “Do not insert inside the ear canal.” Just like these irony examples, these 20 cartoons prove that real life is funnier than any standup routine.

20 / 31
Bull fighting
Dariush M/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about bullfighting?

Bill Hillman, a bullfighting enthusiast, wrote a book called How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, all about how to avoid being gored by bulls. Three weeks after the release of the book, he was gored by a bull.

21 / 31
Asian boy speaking into microphone on stage
Blend Images/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about spelling bees?

In 2011, the winners of an elementary school spelling bee in Utah received a trophy reading “Viewmont Spellling Bee, 1st Place.” Quite the example of irony—not only that the trophy contained a misspelling, but that it was the word “spelling.” Here are 20 grammar jokes every word nerd will appreciate.

22 / 31
the beatles
Richard Mitchell/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about The Beatles?

In 2002, a tree was planted in a park in Los Angeles in memory of Beatles guitarist George Harrison. The tree later died after being infested by beetles.

23 / 31
mcdonald's i'm lovin it

What’s ironic about the McDonald’s jingle?

Before he became a star, Pharrell Williams was fired from McDonald’s three different times. Years later, he would help write and produce the company’s iconic “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle.

24 / 31

What’s ironic about Match.com?

Gary Kremen, the founder of Match.com, encouraged everyone he knew to join it, including his girlfriend. She eventually left him for a man she met on Match.com.

25 / 31
Close up view of a blank crossword puzzle grid with black and white squares and a pencil

What’s ironic about crossword puzzles?

When crossword puzzles debuted in the early twentieth century, the New York Times was very critical of them, calling them “a primitive sort of mental exercise.” In 1942, the Times published its first crossword puzzle, and today, the New York Times crossword is the most famous one in America. If you’re laughing at these irony examples, then check out these 25 clever jokes that’ll make you sound smart.

26 / 31
Life Ring

What’s ironic about lifeguards?

In 1985, a group of New Orleans lifeguards gathered at the municipal pool to celebrate the fact that no one had drowned at the pool that past summer. After the party, they discovered the fully-clothed body of a man who had drowned in the pool.

27 / 31

What’s ironic about lawsuits?

In 2009, the Guinness Book of World records named Jonathan Lee Riches the record-holder for suing the largest number of people. Angrily declaring that the Guinness Book “has no right to publish my work, my legal masterpieces,” he sued them.

28 / 31
the child goes to school. boy schoolboy goes to school in the morning. happy child with a briefcase on his back. free text, copy space. view from the back of the outgoing child

What’s ironic about being expelled from school?

In the 1950s, 12-year-old David Ingham was kicked out of grammar school by the headmaster, who said that he’d “never amount to much.” Fifty-five years later, the same school commissioned Ingham, now an art teacher, to paint a portrait of that very headmaster. So Ingham definitely got the last laugh, similar to these other irony examples of early failures of wildly successful people.

29 / 31
crayola crayons
Pao Laroid/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Crayola crayons?

In 1990, after 35 years working at Crayola, their retiring CEO, Emerson Moser, revealed that he was colorblind.

30 / 31

What’s ironic about an anti-piracy group?

In 2014, the Business Software Alliance posted an anti-piracy ad that read “Your pot of gold is right here.” But eagle-eyed users noticed that the image of a “pot of gold” they used was actually a photo of a baker’s Saint Patrick’s Day cake that the BSA had used without authorization.

31 / 31
alanise morissette
Fabio Diena/Shutterstock

What’s ironic about Alanise Morissette?

None of the song lyrics in Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” are examples of irony. As Morissette herself allegedly said, “the irony of ‘Ironic’ is that it’s not an ironic song at all.” Don’t miss these 75 short jokes anyone can remember.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest