March 29, 2007

Two hunters are walking through the woods when suddenly, one of them collapses. It doesn't look like he's breathing, and his eyes are rolled back in his head.
The other hunter quickly whips out his cell phone and calls emergency services. He gasps into the phone: "My friend is dead! He just keeled over! What can I do?
The very calm operator replies: "Sir, just take it easy. I can help. First, make sure he's dead.
There is a couple seconds of silence, then a gunshot is heard. The hunter gets back on the line. He says: "Ok, now what?"

According to British psychology professor Dr. Richard Wiseman, the above is the funniest joke in the world. Wiseman and a group of colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire came to their dubiously hilarious conclusion through LaughLab: a year-long experiment conducted through an Internet site. The site invited people around the world to judge jokes, and also to contribute their own. More than 40,000 jokes were judged using a "giggleometer," a five-point scale with ratings ranging from "very funny" to "not very funny."
Wiseman explained that people all over the world find jokes funny for lots of different reasons, and the hunter joke contained three of the main ones: it makes the listener or reader feel superior; it reduces the emotional impact of an anxiety-provoking situation; and it contains an absurd surprise. The hunter joke also worked in many different countries, and across generations and genders.
The study found extensive differences in senses of humor across the globe. Americans and Canadians preferred jokes with a strong sense of superiority. Most Europeans enjoyed surreal humor, and jokes that made light of anxious, real-life situations like death and marriage. The Irish, Australians, and citizens of the UK tended to elect jokes involving word plays and puns. Germans were found to have the widest-ranging sense of humor.
Many submitted jokes involved references to animals. The jokes containing ducks were considered especially funny…ostensibly because ducks are real quack-ups.


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