July 1 is International Joke Day
Today is International Joke Day. In 2001, Richard Wiseman enlisted the aid of the British Association for the Advancement of Science(BAAS), founded in 1831 and now known as the British Science Association (BSA), in conducting a yearlong study designed to discover the world’s funniest joke and learn about the psychology of humor.
They created the LaughLab website to enlist the participation of people around the world. Its survey asked each test subject to share his or her favorite joke, then collected demographic information such as age, sex and country of residence, and finally asked them to rate a random selection of jokes submitted by others.
To elicit quantifiable results, the survey required all participants to rate the jokes’ funniness using a special “giggleometer” invented specifically for the study.
By the end of the experiment, LaughLab had received more than 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings. After collating the results, and taking into account which jokes made men laugh versus women, kids versus adults, country versus, well, other countries, Wiseman and the BAAS determined the world’s funniest joke. It was submitted by Gurpal Gosall, a 31-year-old psychiatrist from Manchester, England.
Here it is:
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?”
Have a happy International Joke Day! What’s your favorite?
I love this joke but maybe I shouldn’t.
The LaughLab researchers have a whole explanation of why that joke is so funny. I think the beauty of it lies in how it catches us off-guard. It’s dark, but we get a free pass to laugh without feeling bad because it didn’t really happen. It’s a little like, “Light a match, I think the gas tank’s empty.” I don’t want two people to immolate themselves but I laugh every time I think of it.