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.
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.
Twain describes this ‘a pathetic thing to see.’ He goes on to give readers a couple of examples: ‘The Wounded Soldier’ (comic) and ‘The Golden Arm’ (humorous).‘Always obey your parents…,’ is first piece of ‘advice’ Twain gives in his satirical essay ‘Advice To Youth,’ written in 1882; however, he immediately follows it with ‘…when they are present.’ He also discusses respecting superiors, but if they offend in any way, then the youth may ‘simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick.’ Other pieces of ‘advice’ from Twain include ‘be very careful about lying’ and ‘never handle firearms carelessly.’ He writes of books and how ‘Robertson’s ‘Taming the Bicycle‘ is a funny account of Twain learning to ride an old high wheel bike.
This piece, while never published during his lifetime as he was never happy with it, is laugh-out-loud funny.While funerals are serious, Mark Twain manages to make the subject funny in ‘At the Funeral,’ a short essay in which the humorous writer gives his take on proper etiquette when attending such an event.For example, the attendee must not ‘criticise the person in whose honor the entertainment is given’ and definitely ‘make no remarks about his equipment.’ Also, the attendee should only ‘be moved…according to the degree of your intimacy’ with the people hosting the funeral or the deceased.The title piece comprises letters written by Satan to his fellow angels about the shameless pride and foolishness of humans.“Papers of the Adam Family,” a first-person family history of Adam and Eve, traces the first failed attempts at civilization.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.For example, one piece of ‘advice’ Twain shares is ‘If you mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply that you won’t.’ He writes that little girls should act as they will do what they’re told but that ‘afterward act quietly in the matter according to the dictates of your best judgment.’ This piece also has recommendations on how take chewing gum from little brothers, how to treat friends who have better toys, plus several more little gems. Make your own flashcards that can be shared with others.Some of the funnier moments or rules broken include ‘1.That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.