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Google translates both of them to be interesting. And which can be used for a funny guy?

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

楽しい is more like "fun, enjoyable", like a trip to the zoo.

面白い is more like "interesting, amusing", like a good movie.

Of course, watching the movie could be 楽しい, and all the neat things you learn at the zoo could be 面白い, so the meanings are indeed close.

A funny guy would use 面白い.

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good to know that they are indeed close. I thought they are completely different and not exchangeable. –  Jing Nov 7 '12 at 19:33
    
simple and clear. Thanks. –  Jing Nov 8 '12 at 23:20
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In English we sometimes talk about "funny-peculiar" and "funny ha ha". 面白い is a bit like "funny ha ha" and "interesting, with possibly shades of peculiar". 楽しい is enjoyable. A 楽しい人 is fun to be with.

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楽しい is more like "that is fun" or "that is enjoyable"

面白い is more like "that is interesting" or "that is captivating".

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Using the past tense in your English translation does not make sense. –  yadokari Nov 7 '12 at 20:02
    
Well I was giving a off-the-cuff explanation. But I fixed it for the grammatically minded. –  dotnetN00b Nov 7 '12 at 22:21
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  • A child on a roller coaster exclaims 楽しい!
  • A physicist sees an unexpected factor in the equations describing the speed at the top of the third hump and muses 面白い.

Those are the extremes. There are quite a few things which can definitely be described by both, including people with slightly different nuances.

楽しい人 does not mean "interesting/fun person" for a rather curious reason. Since it relates to internal emotional state, 楽しい defaults to talking about the speaker's emotions. 楽しい人 translates to "person I find fun/enjoyable-to-be-with". It can have a romantic connotation, or a meaning close to "person I enjoy chatting with".

面白い人 similarly means "Person I find interesting", not "Person who is interested". It also has the implication of "person who is humorous", but only if the speaker enjoys that humor. This is probably what you are looking for, but realize that neither is really making an objective statement.

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