Richard Wiseman, an English psychologist, has been investigating which jokes people find the funniest. He?s asked for jokes over the internet at Laughlab.co.uk, and has received 10,000 jokes from more than 70 countries.
One of his findings was that men and women think different things are funny. This is the type of joke that was rated highly by women: A man had a dog called Minton. One day Minton ate two shuttlecocks. When the owner found out, he said, ?Bad Minton.?
This kind of joke was rated highly by men: A guy walked in to a psychiatrist?s office wearing underpants made of transparent cling wrap. The psychiatrist said, ?Well, I can clearly see you?re nuts.?
?These findings reflect fundamental differences in the ways in which males and females use humor,? says Wiseman. ?Males use humor to appear superior to others, [while] women are more linguistically skilled and prefer word-puns.?
People were asked to submit their favorite joke and vote on others using a laughometer. The top joke – 47% of people gave it the highest rating – was this one: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are going camping. They pitch their tent under the stars and go to sleep. Some time in the middle of the night, Holmes wakes Watson up. ?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!?
Dr. Wiseman says an analysis of the data from different countries suggests that the English like sexual innuendo. The most popular joke among Britons was: A man goes to the doctor and says, ?Doctor, there?s a piece of lettuce sticking out of my bottom.?
The doctor asks him to drop his pants and examines him. The man asks, ?Is it serious, doctor?? and the doctor replies, ?I?m sorry to tell you but this is just the tip of the iceberg.?
Countries were ranked on how funny they found the selection of 10,000 jokes. Germans were the most amused, Canadians the least. ?This is an intriguing finding,? says Wiseman, ?and we will be carrying out more research to discover exactly what is going on here.?
Dr. Wiseman launched his Laugh Lab at this year?s British Association Festival of Science held in Glasgow. He plans to do MRI scans on people as they are told jokes to investigate the laughter regions in the brain. ?While we already have some interesting findings, 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 than the top-rated one so far.? Here is the top joke in France: Q: You?re a high-priced lawyer! If I give you $500, will you answer 2 questions for me? A: Absolutely! What?s the 2nd question?
Top joke in Canada: Q: What do you call a woman who can balance 4 pints of beer on her head? A: Beatrix.
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