Emo Philips - master of paraprosdokian

Paraprosdokian – (from Greek: “para” meaning “beyond” and “prosdokian” meaning “expectation”) a figure of speech, often utilized in humor, in which a sentence or phrase ends in an unexpected in a way, causing one to reinterpret the first part.  I’m quite fond of using these, myself.

Here are some well-known examples:

  • “Take my wife, please.” — Henny Youngman
  • “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  • “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” — Henry J. Tillman
  • “I like going to the park and watching the children run and jump around, because you see, they don’t know I’m using blanks.” — Emo Philips
  • “I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time.’  So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. — Steven Wright
  • “I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.” — Mitch Hedberg
  • “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” — Will Rogers
  • “If I am reading this graph correctly, I would be very surprised.” — Stephen Colbert
  • “If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker.” — Homer Simpson
  • “It’s too bad that whole families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.” — Jack Handey