Though Bhagat has introduced the contemporary problems of youths in this novel, he has also given the humorous touch to the novel. The very tone of the novel is a mild humour.
In conversation style, Bhagat presents a realistic picture of IIT through funny statements, odd comparisons, exaggerated accounts, hyperbolic description, comic images, and inappropriate replies which together make the novel quite interesting and funny.
On the very first day, all the three IITians, Hari Kumar, Alok Gupta and Ryan Oberoi are called by their seniors for ragging. Chetan Bhagat gives the description of two seniors Anurag and Baku in a quite humourous way:
‘A senior named Anurag leaned against a wall. Another senior, to my nervous eye, looked like a demon from cheap mythological TV shows six feet tall, over a hundred kilos, dark, hairy, and huge teeth that were ten years late meeting an orthodontist…Baku, a lungi-clad human toothpick, and just as smelly is my guess.’ (p 2)
In the very beginning of the novel Hari, Ryan and Alok are forced to remove their clothes by their seniors. The entire description is a humourous one. Baku says, “Look at them, mothers fed them until they are ready to explode, little Farex babies”. (p 4). The description of Prof. Dubey is another example of the Bhagat’s humourous sense. Hari narrates:
‘He appears around forty years of age, with gray hair incandescent from three tablespoons of coconut oil, wore an un-tucked light blue shirt and had positioned three pens in his front pocket, along with chalks, like an array of bullets’. (p 7)
Prof. Dubey takes out a chalk from his pocket ‘with a flourish celluloid-terrorists reserved for hand-grenades and underlined the word ‘machine’ six times’ (p8). On the question of Prof. Dubey, Hari’s tongue “cleaves unto dental roof, body freezes, blood vessels rupture and sweat bursts out in buckets” (p 9). The description of the narrator regarding other IITians is also humourous:
‘I also got familiar with Kumaon and other wing-mates. I won’t go into all of them, but in one corner there was Sukhwinder or the ‘Happy Surd’ since his face broke into sunny smiles at proximity with anything remotely human. Next to him was the studious Venkat, who coated his windows with thick black paper and stayed locked inside alone. There was ‘Itchy’ Rajesh whose hands were always scratching some part of his body, sometimes in objectionable places. On the other side of the hallway were seniors? rooms, including Baku, Anurag and other animals. (p13)
Ryan’s mocking “Yes sir, let us mug and cram. Otherwise, how will we become great engineers of this great country.” (p18) Though not quite humourous but somehow gives a smile. Hari’s first meeting with Neha Cherian, the daughter of Professor Cherian also makes the reader laugh in some way. Hari collides with a red Maruti car when he is on his morning walk. Neha promises Hari a treat. Hari’s reaction, “free food is always welcome. Keep bumping me” (Bhagat 30) leaves the smile on reader’s face. Alok’s father is to be taken to hospital as he is not feeling well. All the three friends approach Alok’s home. Hari sees Alok’s house for the very first time. He is poor but “not World Bank ads type starving poor or anything” (p 33). His mother’s voice is so pathetic that “would make even Hitler cry” (p33). Alok does not perform well in the next Physics quiz. He requests the professor for a re-quiz, who in response “stared back as if he had been asked for both his kidneys” (p 34). In their viva-voce examination and group discussion, Hari is asked a trick question by Prof. Goyal. But he fails to answer the question even after mugging it so many times. Prof. Goyal remarks “The standard of this institute is going down day by day. What are you, commerce students?” (Bhagat 56) creates humour. When the results of their majors are out, they react “as if India had won the World Cup or nude women were rolling on the grass outside” (p60). Hari, Ryan and Alok get 5.46, 5.01, and 5.88 GPA respectively. Ryan congratulates Alok, “You have topped amongst us”. (p 61). Hari meets Neha at ice-cream Parlour. With Neha’s touch he “melted faster than the ice-cream; like the bad mood bugs running through me suddenly got Baygon-sprayed.” (p 68)
Professors are well-known for maintaining the highest academic standards in the IITs. Their appearances, their attitudes before the students set the tone of a good communication between them. Bhagat describes some harsh and unkind images of professors by mixing with humour. The novelist describes that “Prof Vohra was a portly man in his fifties, who had an unusually kind face for a Prof. Of course, nothing in his nature supported this. With six term papers a semester and a lethal red pen that crossed our one design submission after another, kind was hardly how you’d describe Prof Vohra” (p 117). Prof. Cherian walks and “brought with him a huge pile of books as if he had just robbed a library” (p 140). Hari remarks on the appearance of Prof. Cherian in a humourous way, “…Cherian had a bald spot bigger than a Nirula’s hamburger. If she dressed to act in a horror movie, Neha would look like her father” (p 141). In the class, Prof. Cherian orders sealing the lips of all the students for sixty minutes in such a harsh tone “that would make Saddam Hussain shudder” (p 141) and “Chalk dust formed a cloud as if Cherian had burst a grenade in the classroom. Behind this, one could barely see his contorted face” (p 141). These images also show an undercurrent of IIT students “simmering anger and resentment against the professors” lack of consideration for the genuine problems of students.