Friday, October 06, 2006

Laughing in the Face of the Void

Its hard to know how to get up from where I went with that last post. Okay, how about this.

I remember seeing a story a few years ago about a study that found the world's funniest joke. It went something like this:

A couple of New Jersey 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 and soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, and then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"

Now, this joke really did make me laugh. For a start, I am a big fan of black and gallows humour. But I really wondered if it was the world's funniest joke. I mean, how can you objectively compare jokes? Isn't a lot of it in the context and the person who tells it? For instance, I personally think this one is funnier.

But apparently, this joke was not so much the best of all possible jokes, as the one that the greatest diversity of people from different countries, cultures and demographics understood and enjoyed.

And such jokes were not easy to find, because people from different parts of the world tended to have fundamentally different senses of humour. For instance, people from countries like Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand tended to like jokes involving word plays, such as:

Patient: "Doctor, I've got a strawberry stuck up my bum." Doctor: "I've got some cream for that".

Americans and Canadians tended to like jokes which were about feelings of superiority, and especially jokes where someone looks stupid:

Texan: "Where are you from?"
Harvard graduate: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions."
Texan: "Okay – where are you from, jackass?"

But the favourite joke for Americans was this one:

A man and a friend are playing golf one day at their local golf course. One of the guys is about to chip onto 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."

The French enjoyed a more cynical style of humour, such as:

Client: "You're a high-priced lawyer! If I give you $500, will you answer two questions for me?"
Lawyer: "Absolutely! What was your second question?"

They also liked jokes about topics that made people feel anxious, such as:

A patient says: "Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip. I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: 'Could you please pass the butter.' But instead I said: 'You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life'."

Actually, I really liked that last one!

Now, aside from this study, there are definitely jokes that are popular with particular communities because they express something about that community. For instance, I have found that this one almost always gets a laugh from people who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, like my Big Dude:

A couple with chronic fatigue syndrome are looking in the fridge, find there isn't any food, and decide to get takeaway. The wife turns to her husband and says "I really want fish and chips."
"I'll get you some," her husband offers.
"You are a darling," she says. "Don't forget the salt and vinegar. Write it down, or you'll forget".
"I won't forget," he says. The husband goes to the shops and returns after a while with a paper bag, which he hands to his wife. She opens up the bag, and pulls out a carton of icecream.
"Damn", she says, "I knew you'd forget the chocolate sauce!"

A major symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome being general brain fog and short term memory loss.

Anyway, just like countries, and particular communities, I think you can tell a lot about an individual person from what they find funny, and I'd like to get to know my readers a little better. Plus, I need a bit of cheering up!

So, please leave me a good joke here. It could be the joke that you personally thought should have been the world's funniest, one that means something to you or says something about you, or even just one that you heard recently. The only rule is that it has to have made you laugh.

And just in case this seems silly, I am going to tell your jokes to Judy, who loves jokes and really needs a good laugh right now.

Over to you!


Anonymous Lexy said...

I currently work in the "deathcare" industry (but in the IT department) and my all time favourite joke is: What did one casket say to the other casket? Is that you coffin?" You have to say it, not read it! Loving your blog my dear!

9:38 PM  
Blogger LePhare said...

The two hunters is one of the best. I do like visual jokes and one of my favourites at the moment is at
Use your cursor and left click to take control.

4:09 PM  
Blogger The Visitor said...

Received on the email circuit:

Last week we took some friends out to a new restaurant and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange, but I ignored it. However, when the busboy brought out water and utensils, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around the room and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup, I asked, "Why the spoon?"

"Well," he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all our processes. After several months of statistical analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. This represents a drop frequency of approximately three spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are prepared to deal with that contingency, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon, and he was able to replace it with his spare spoon. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now." I was rather impressed. I also noticed that there was a very thin string hanging out of the waiter's fly.

Looking around, I saw that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. My curiosity got the better of me, and before he walked off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"

"Oh, certainly!" he answered, lowering his voice. "Not everyone is as observant as you. That consulting firm I mentioned also found that we can save time in the restroom."

"How so?" I was getting more curious. "See," he continued," by tying this string to the tip of your you-know-what, we can pull it out over the urinal without touching it and that way eliminate the need to wash our hands when we are done, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent."

"But tell me, after you are done, how do you put it back?" "Well," he whispered, lowering his voice even further, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."

12:02 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Thanks for this post Emily. I'm going to post my own favorite joke over at my own site. . .

8:22 AM  
Blogger freebird said...

My all-time favourite one-liner(almost) has got to be: A woman walks into a bar and says,"I'd like a double entendre", so the barman gives her one.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Finished Last said...

My personal all time favorite joke is :
What do you get when you croos an agnostic,an insomniac and a dyslexic?

Someone who stays awake all night wondering if there really is a dog.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hahahaha... these are all fab!

3:36 PM  

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