Humorous Short Stories

Since humor is subjective it’s difficult to classify a story as humorous; not everyone is going to find a particular story funny. These stories are generally considered funny, or they’re stories that I’ve found somewhat funny.

On this page you can read free short stories online that might be suitable short stories for middle or high school kids.

A Burlesque Biography | Mark Twain

Twain goes back a long way to describe the important people in his family’s lineage.

Read here

The Late Mr. Adams | Steve Allen

George Adams was late his whole life – for his birth, all his life milestones, his school and work. He had good qualities to offset this flaw.

The Night the Ghost Got In | James Thurber

At night a man hears footsteps downstairs. The family is thrown into confusion and overreacts to the situation.

Read here

Luck | Mark Twain

A military captain wins all his campaigns and continues to advance his career even though he makes endless blunders.

Read here

The School | Donald Barthelme

A teacher relates all of the experiences with death that his class has in a single school year.

Read here

The Death of a Government Clerk | Anton Chekhov

A government clerk sneezes while at the opera, accidentally spraying the man in front of him. Although he apologizes several times, he’s worried that the matter isn’t closed.

Read here

My Financial Career | Stephen Leacock

The narrator goes to the bank to open an account. He’s uncomfortable and awkward.

Read here

The Mouse | Saki

A man is riding in a train carriage with a woman who is a stranger. He feels a mouse crawling in his pants, and he struggles to remove it in a discreet and dignified way.

Read here

There Was Once | Margaret Atwood

A storyteller is constantly interrupted while trying to relate a traditional fairytale. The listener objects to the clichés and politically incorrect language.

Read here (Scroll down slightly)

A Letter to God | Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes

Lencho is trying to grow enough food for his family. He is confident in this year’s crop; a good rain is coming. It ends up raining and hailing, ruining the crop, inciting Lencho to write a letter.

This story has a funny ending.

Read here

The Kugelmass Episode | Woody Allen

An unhappily married humanities professor, making no progress with his analyst, seeks help from a magician / entertainer. The magician says he can send the man into the world of any book he wants.

Read here

You Were Perfectly Fine | Dorothy Parker

A young man eases himself into a chair after getting up at 4PM. A young woman offers him a drink, but he says he is finished with alcohol. He claims to feel great, but he can’t remember last night; she fills in the details for him.

Read here

Complaint Department | Katherine Best

Mr. Seeley calls a company that sent his wife a bag of flour infested with worms. He wants to make a complaint and order a replacement bag, but a series of communication problems make it impossible.

Action Will Be Taken | Heinrich Boll

The narrator recounts the time he was employed in Alfred Wunsiedel’s factory. Wunsiedel was obsessed with taking action, and required his employees to be constantly busy. The narrator is a man of leisure, but manages to fit in to the company culture.

Read here

The Carriage | Nikolai Gogol

A town is very dull until a cavalry regiment is stationed there. The brigadier general throws a dinner party, inviting some prominent officers and local landowners. Among the guests is Pythagor Chertokutsky, an aristocrat and former officer who retired after an unfortunate social incident.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty | James Thurber

A mild and ineffectual man has a series of daydreams while accompanying his wife on her weekly errands.

Read here

This Year It’s Going to Be Different | Will Stanton

A husband and father has been reading self-help books. He decides to apply the suggestions as his New Year’s resolution. His family doesn’t respond to the new-and-improved version of himself the way he thought they would.

Read “This Year It’s Going to Be Different”

The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones | Stephen Leacock

Melpomenus, a clergyman, has difficulty taking his leave when visiting people. One day, right before his vacation starts, he visits some acquaintances for tea and gets roped into staying much longer than he intended.

Read “The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones”

The Soft Sell | Art Buchwald

A young psychology major is hired at a dress shop. She analyzes the customers while helping them, costing the owner some sales.

Read “The Soft Cell”

University Days | James Thurber

Thurber relates the unusual experiences he had in university, starting with Botany class. He was unable to see thru a microscope, which enraged his professor. He continues with an athlete’s difficulties in economics and his troubles in gym.

Read “University Days”

No Kaddish for Weinstein | Woody Allen

Weinstein is fifty, alienated and depressed. He visits his ex-wife and thinks about their relationship.

Read “No Kaddish for Weinstein” (Page 70)

Marjorie Daw | Thomas Bailey Aldrich

John Flemming has slipped and broken his leg, leaving him confined to his couch. He begins corresponding with his friend Edward Delaney to pass the time. Delaney describes the mansion across from his place including the beautiful young woman who lives there.

Read “Marjorie Daw”

A Horse and Two Goats | R. K. Narayan

Muni lives in poverty in a tiny village in India. While Muni is out grazing his two remaining goats, a well-off American stops his car and approaches. Neither speaks the other’s language, but they try to converse.

Read “A Horse and Two Goats”

I will try to add more humorous short stories for teens and avid readers that could be helpful for teaching reading and reading comprehension to middle or high school students. Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.