Some jokes, usually physical comedy, can break language barriers. Sure, different people from different parts of the world might find certain gags funnier than others, but there's some type of comedy that's universal.
I personally have always most enjoyed humor that speaks to me specifically. Whether it's obscure references or a play on words that's endemic to my area or culture, I get tickled pink when I feel like a quip was meant for a select few who are "in the know.
After reading through some of these hilarious sign language jokes, I kind of wish I brushed up on my ASL so I'd get to use some of these in person. As funny as these are to read, I can only imagine how much better they'd be to actually use in a conversation.
1. To sign, or not to sign.
When it comes to descriptive and literal sign language words, the old Playwright Billy Shakes's last name has a great sign, as pointed out by redditor very_large_ears:
"The sign for Shakespeare is the sign for spear (a hand, elevated, holding the imaginary shaft of a spear), then vigorously shaken."
2. Pew pew
Like the perpetuation of stereotypes? Don't worry, user BleepBloopNotARobot has got a sign for you!
"The old ASL sign for Texas was literally waving finger guns. That was updated recently...
Also, Ireland translates as POTATO + ISLAND"
3. The deaf giant.
Then there are actual jokes people tell in sign language, like this one about a deaf giant as told by reddit user eklu:
"A deaf giant is walking around and sees a woman (touches thumb to mouth). He picks her up and puts her in the palm of his hand. He looks at her and says, "You're beautiful" (Moves hand in a circular motion around face). "I LOVE you!" (Mashes palms together, and smears them circularly). He looks down at the smushed remains of the woman in his hands (grimace a sad face)."
4. Some British Sign Language
These BSL bon mots come courtesy of victoriahhannah:
BSL changes the phrase "in one ear, out the other" to "in one eye, out the other."
"Divorce" is basically taking your ring off and throwing it on the floor.
"'I've got no idea / I'm really confused" is mouthing "POWWW" and shooting your index fingers back over your head (literally meaning that the information has gone over your head).
5. How you sign "stalker" in New Zealand...
Apparently, you just make one finger stalk the other, according to mrssaywell:
"In New Zealand Sign Language, the sign for 'stalker' literally looks like one finger is stalking another. Hold up both index fingers and creep one towards the other."
6. Wanna spell El Paso?
This one from Dragout is so literal it's brilliant:
"In Texas, the sign for “El Paso” is one hand making the sign for L and one hand making the sign for O and then frantically waving them past each other.
'L pass O'"
7. That guy must really like pizza.
This one from NotALawyerNotAWifey is more of a mean prank:
"Well, idk if this counts, but some deaf people love to tell non-ASL users that forming a triangle with your thumbs and pointer fingers means 'pizza.' It doesn’t mean pizza. It means vagina. You can imagine the hilarity that ensues."
8. Under where?
Some gags work in both ASL and spoken languages, like this grade-school classic as told by redditor Party_Wurmple:
"The 'joke' sign for UNDERWEAR: it’s the sign for WHERE signed in the same location as the dominant hand in the sign for UNDER."
9. So punny
If you hate puns, it's probably best you don't read this corny/adorable/brilliant itty-bitty "microwave" joke from SlowMotionExplosion. Just take a guess how this one goes:
"My favorite is Microwave!
Take your pinky and flex it up and down.....
It’s a micro wave! So cute!"
10. BRB, checking my Facebook real quick.
If you're trying to talk about the world's largest social network, then all you need to do get literal. Quite literal, like j8chi did:
"The sign for Facebook is just the sign of 'book' on your face. Like you're opening your face.
You know... Deaf people also like jokes"
11. Hungry? Or...
When you're really hungry, you may want to be careful about enthusiastically expressing it to your deaf friends. User KynoLeDino shared these words that are easy to mix up:
"My hard of hearing partner informed me that stroking your neck to chest means you're hungry. However, doing it more than once means you're horny. So when I do it, she asks if I meant I'm really hungry or if I'm horny. The correct answer is yes."
12. Not a mistake...
Cafeteria food isn't exactly known for its Michelin star quality, so this little gag related by jamesno26 comes as no surprise:
"One of the namesigns for a local cafeteria is similar to the sign for vomiting. Very accurate sign too."
13. Some dark humor for you...
All right so some of the jokes on this list are a little corny...this one by alcaste19 is definitely for those with a little more twisted sense of humor:
"I hate this one for laughing at it so much.
Baby = Cradling in your arms back and forth. Garbage = Pretending to pick something out and nonchalantly throw it out.
Combine to make abortion."
14. You're too, shy, shy.
If you're trying to tell someone to break out of their shell, lilcheesebite wants you to be very, very careful with these words that're easy to confuse:
"Calling someone shy and calling them a prostitute are very similar.
One is running the back of your hand one time from your ear forward and the other is doing the same motion multiple times."
15. My milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard.
If you want a delicious, lactose-packed dessert do the following:
"Sign milkshake by making a fist away from your body, and move your wrist up and down."
If you want to sign that you're interested in pleasuring yourself:
"Sign masturbate by making a fist towards your body, and move your wrist up and down."
Thanks to Redditor goode3790 for helping us not mix them up.
16. Those Londonders are crazy, I hear.
A funny coincidence that OhHiGCHQ noticed:
"OK so, I am not a sign language speaker but BSL (British Sign Language) has an interesting thing that I noticed: The sign for "London" and the sign for "Crazy" are very similar."
17. Not that kind of turtle...
One of the best parts about speaking in sign language is the ability to be extra-descriptive. Like reddit user Czeris did when trying to express their desire to visit the restroom:
"I am not very proficient in ASL but I got my instructor to crack up pretty hard when I signed "brown turtle" to indicate my need to have a bathroom break."
18. Bob, with two Os...
When we're angry, it's often easier to get colorful and creative with our insults. Bob gave our good friend Vainquisher a perfect example of this:
I was at a local social and met this guy named Bob and his name sign is a "B" with both hands, held on each side of a wide open mouth for the "o'. His wife says that when he makes her angry she uses her eyes to call him boob instead."