Funny poetry can exist in any form or measure of poetry, granted that the topic or tone of the poem is humorous. Several types, however, are used almost exclusively for comedic purposes. The most popular of these are the limerick, the chastushka, and the clerihew. A specific type of double dactyl, often referred to as a "higgledy piggledy," is often used at the start of humorous verses. Themes in funny poetry are usually whimsical and absurd, often serving to tell a story, make an amusing observation, or to satirize people, places, and events.
The limerick is the most well-recognized type of funny poetry, due to both the sheer number of poems produced in the form and its unique structure. A limerick consists of five lines with an A-A-B-B-A rhyme pattern. The lines are typically written in anapestic meter, in which two brief unstressed syllables are followed by a longer, more emphasized one. Limericks can also be written in amphibrachic meter, in which a stressed syllable is flanked by unstressed ones; both anapestic and amphibrachic meters give the poem a light lyrical quality when spoken. Popular limericks include "There Once was a Man from Nantucket" and the examples found in Edward Lear's "Book of Nonsense."
Chastushki, on the other hand, are typically more abrupt-sounding than limericks; the funny poetry form takes its name from "chastit," which means "speaking rapidly" when translated from Russian. A chastushka consists of four simple lines that follow one of three main rhyme patterns: A-A-B-B, A-B-A-B, or A-B-C-B. Chastushki are generally regarded as more adult-oriented than limericks, with much of the humor coming from political satire and obscenities.
The clerihew is one of the most unconventional funny poetry forms, using irregular line structures as part of its humor. The poems are typically biographical, with the first line mentioning or consisting solely of the subject's name. The rhyme pattern of a typical clerihew is A-A-B-B, with abrupt shifts of meter between lines throwing off the poem's rhythm.
Although a dactyl usually corresponds to any metrical foot consisting of one stressed syllable and two unstressed ones, two dactyls used in succession are often used to open funny poetry. These double dactyls are usually made of nonsense word pairs like "higgledy piggledy" or "hankety pankety" and serve to set a whimsical tone for the rest of the poem. Double dactyls are composed of two four-line stanzas, with rhymes in the last words of each fourth line.