The world’s funniest joke? That’s a laugh
The Telegraph, London
Scientists investigating the psychology of laughter have picked the world’s funniest joke. “The response has been enormous with over 10,000 jokes submitted and over 100,000 people from over 70 countries rating them,” commented Dr Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire in England, who devised “Laughlab”.
A joke about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson submitted by Geoff Anandappa, from Blackpool emerged the overall winner, with a top rating from 47% of those taking part. Dr Wiseman stressed that the results were preliminary: “The data collection period will continue till March 2002 when we move to the second phase of the experiment. In the meantime we challenge people to submit a funnier joke.”
The experiment also identified the worst jokes, and discovered what men, women, and people of different nationalities find funny. “This is an intriguing finding, and we will be carrying out more research to discover exactly what is going on here,” said Dr Wiseman.
One surprising result was that out of 11 nationalities, Germans rated more jokes “very funny” than anyone else. Being easily amused is not the same as having a good sense of humour, however.
One joke which had the Germans in stitches involved a long-winded description of how to tell the weather by placing your dog outside the back door and examining its fur. It ends: “Of course, to be able to tell the weather like this, you have to leave the dog outside all the time, especially if you expect bad weather. Sincerely, the CAT.”
Canada was at the bottom of the list, and Britain in seventh place. Men and women favour different types of jokes. Top jokes for males involve aggression, putting women down and sexual innuendo. In contrast, females prefer jokes involving word play. “These findings reflect fundamental differences in the ways in which males and females use humour” said Dr Wiseman. “Males use humour to appear superior to others, whilst women are more linguistically skilled and prefer word-puns. “The experiment was devised in collaboration with the British Association for the Advancement of Science as part of Science Year, a British Government initiative which aims to raise awareness of science among young people.
The website ( http://www.laughlab.co.uk <http://www.laughlab.co.uk/> ) gives people the opportunity to submit jokes and also rate jokes submitted by others on a five-point ‘smileometer’ scale. Sue Hordijenko of the British Association said: “Laugh Lab looks set to be the most far-reaching psychology experiment ever.”
The best joke:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go camping, and pitch their tent under the stars. During the night, Holmes wakes his companion and says: “Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce.” Watson says: “I see millions of stars, and even if a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.”
Holmes replies: “Watson, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent …”
A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, “Just take it easy. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There’s silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says, “OK, now what?”
Australians thought this one the best
John Wright, a businessman from the West Coast USA, after working very long hours away from home, decided in mid winter to book him and his wife, Josephine, a two week break in Florida, on the East Coast. He had one more job to attend to out of town and arranged to email his wife the day he arrived in Florida, so she could jump on a plane and join him.
He typed in his wife’s email address JosephineW[at]aol.com and sent off a short message to her. Or so he thought.. Unfortunately in his haste, he typed in JospehineE[at]aol.com. The email arrived at Josephine Emerson’s e-letter box. She had just lost her husband, the late Rev John Emerson. When she cleared her mail that day, the whole house heard her scream and fall in a dead faint on the floor. Her daughter rushed in to find her unconscious, clutching a print out of the email. It read.
From : John
Subject : from the Other Side
My dearest wife. I arrived here yesterday. It sure is hotter than I expected. Amazingly, I’ve bumped into some old faces I didn’t expect to see down here. They were just as surprised to see me. When I told them you’re booked in to arrive tomorrow, they couldn’t wait to see you too! Your loving husband, John.
P.S. The article got first and second places mixed up! See http://www.laughlab.co.uk