Have you heard the one about...?
The world's funniest joke was unveiled by scientists today at the end of the largest study of humour ever undertaken.For the past year people around the world have been invited to judge jokes on an Internet site as well as contribute quips of their own.
The world's funniest joke was unveiled by scientists today at the end of the largest study of humour ever undertaken.
For the past year people around the world have been invited to judge jokes on an Internet site as well as contribute quips of their own.
The LaughLab experiment conducted by psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, attracted more than 40,000 jokes and almost two million ratings.
As well as identifying the joke which appealed most to people around the world, the experiment revealed wide humour differences between nations.
You may also want to watch:
Scans conducted on people being told jokes also identified the brain's laughter centre - a region near the back of the frontal lobes.
The joke which received the highest global ratings was submitted by 31-year-old psychiatrist Gurpal Gosall, from Manchester.
- 1 Police find cannabis growing by the side of A14
- 2 Tankers on their way to Suffolk as the government unveils action plan
- 3 Church brings a new Hope to former Ipswich Odeon cinema
- 4 'Outstanding' former Ipswich teachers leave £2million to charities in will
- 5 Diesel trains from Ipswich to get fuel delivered by road
- 6 The 72 postcode areas where Covid infection rates are rising
- 7 New River Church opens its doors on Ipswich Waterfront
- 8 Church ripe for homes conversion is under offer
- 9 Revealed: Waterfront flats to be wrapped in 'breathable' material while cladding replaced
- 10 Ipswich student sets sights on UFC after binge-watching Rocky films
It reads as follows: Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"
Dr Wiseman said the joke was interesting because it worked across many different countries and appealed to men and women and young and old alike.
He said: "Many of the jokes submitted received higher ratings from certain groups of people, but this one had real universal appeal.
"Also, we find jokes funny for lots of different reasons. They sometimes make us feel superior to others, reduce the emotional impact of anxiety-provoking situations or surprise us because of some kind of incongruity. The hunters joke contained all three elements."
People logging onto the LaughLab website were invited to rate jokes using a "Giggleometer" which had a five-point scale ranging from "not very funny" to "very funny".
One intriguing result was that Germans - not renowned for their sense of humour - found just about everything funny. They did not express a strong preference for any type of joke.
People from the Republic of Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand most enjoyed jokes involving word plays.
One example was as follows. Patient: "Doctor, I've got a strawberry stuck up my bum." Doctor: "I've got some cream for that!"
Americans and Canadians, on the other hand, preferred jokes where there was a strong sense of superiority - either because a character looks stupid or is made to look stupid by someone else.
This was an example of American humour.
Texan: "Where are you from?"
Harvard graduate: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions."
Texan: "OK, where are you from, Jackass?"
Many European countries, such as France, Denmark and Belgium, displayed a penchant for off-beat surreal humour.
Here is an example: An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote: "Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof." The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: "There are only nine words here. You could send another Woof for the same price." "But," the dog replied, "that would make no sense at all."
Europeans also enjoyed jokes that involved making light of topics that make people feel anxious, such as death, illness and marriage.
Dr Wiseman said: "These results are really interesting. It suggests that people from different parts of the world have fundamentally different senses of humour. Humour is vital to communication and the more we understand about how people's culture and background affect their sense of humour, the more we will be able to communicate effectively."
People taking part in the LaughLab experiment were asked to answer questions that involved making various estimates - such as guessing the number of words on one page of a typical paperback novel.
Research suggests that people who were good at this kind of task (the correct answer to the paperback question was 500) tended to have better frontal lobe activation than poor performers.
LaughLab found that these individuals also tended to prefer relatively complex jokes.
Computer analysis of the data also showed that jokes containing 103 words were thought to be especially funny. The winning "hunters" joke was 102 words long.
Many jokes submitted contained references to animals. Jokes mentioning ducks were seen as funnier than other jokes.
The researchers were also able to pinpoint the funniest moment of the year. People found the jokes funniest at 6.03pm on October 7.
Dr Wiseman's team is launching a book describing their findings today. To celebrate the occasion, a man in a six foot chicken costume will drive a huge banner inscribed with the winning joke around the streets of London.
Here are the jokes judged funniest by people from different countries around the world.
TOP JOKE IN UK. A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: "That's the ugliest baby that I've ever seen. Ugh!" The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: "The driver just insulted me!" The man says: "You go right up there and tell him off - go ahead, I'll hold your monkey for you."
TOP JOKE IN USA. A man and a friend are playing golf one day at their local golf course. One of the guys is about to chip on to the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course. He stops in mid-swing, takes off his golf cap, closes his eyes, and bows down in prayer. His friend says: "Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man." The man then replies: "Yeah, well we were married 35 years."
TOP JOKE IN CANADA. When Nasa first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, scientists spent a decade and 12 billion dollars to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C. The Russians used a pencil.
TOP JOKE IN AUSTRALIA. This woman rushes to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. She rattles off: "Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What's WRONG with me, Doctor!?"
The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says: "Well, I can tell you that there ain't nothing wrong with your eyesight...."
TOP JOKE IN BELGIUM. Why do ducks have webbed feet? To stamp out fires. Why do elephants have flat feet? To stamp out burning ducks.
TOP JOKE IN GERMANY. A general noticed one of his soldiers behaving oddly. The soldier would pick up any piece of paper he found, frown and say: "That's not it," and put it down again. This went on for some time, until the general arranged to have the soldier psychologically tested. The psychologist concluded that the soldier was deranged, and wrote out his discharge from the army. The soldier picked it up, smiled and said: "That's it."
The funniest jokes from around the UK regions were as follows.
TOP JOKE IN ENGLAND. Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One starts to insult the other one. He screams, "I slept with your mother!" The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do. The first again yells, "I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!" The other says, "Go home dad you're drunk."
TOP JOKE IN WALES. A turtle was walking down an alley in New York when he was mugged by a gang of snails. A police detective came to investigate and asked the turtle if he could explain what happened. The turtle looked at the detective with a confused look on his face and replied "I don't know, it all happened so fast."
TOP JOKE IN SCOTLAND. I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
TOP JOKE IN NORTHERN IRELAND. A doctor says to his patient, "I have bad news and worse news".
"Oh dear, what's the bad news?" asks the patient.
The doctor replies: "You only have 24 hours to live."
"That's terrible," said the patient. "How can the news possibly be worse?".
The doctor replies: "I've been trying to contact you since yesterday."