deadpan wit

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Senior Member
Dear all
Please kindly tell me what's meant by "deadpan wit" in the following context, taken from "Aaron Hillis" interview about Werner Herzong on "Encounters at the End of the World":
A mirthful and meditative quest for beauty, profundity and magic amongst those rare human beings- many scientists or other esoteric specialitsts- who choose to live and work in this isolated locale, Herzog's latest finds new vital questions to ask the world (prostitution and homosexuality among penguins?) through a filter of vibrant personalities, lyrical juxtapositions between man and nature, and the auteur's distinctive deadpan wit.
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Deadpan is a word you will find in a dictionary. It often collocates with wit or humour. Deadpan humour is delivered without any clues that the subject is intended to be humorous; with a "straight face", as we say, and all indications in the manner of the speaker or actor are that he or she is entirely serious.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    "deadpan" means without emotion. The idea is that something humorous is said/written with no indication that the author is trying to be funny. Frequently this is said of a person's (a professional comedian/actor or everyday person) physical appearance/expression during the delivery of a joke. The comedian Jack Benny used deadpan delivery to such a degree that it became his trademark, and thereby an signal of humor in itself, at least for Benny.

    The first time I encounter deadpan humor from another individual, I am likely to believe completely what they are saying. After a delay, I understand the joke.
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