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What it Takes to be Globally Funny

by guest on November 9, 2014

In the global setting, everything must be relevant worldwide or it truly is irrelevant. This looks all-inclusive, bar none, and that includes what is considered funny.

But, what exactly could be considered a global humor? Certainly, people don’t get tickled with the same jokes in the same way. This happy thought set psychology professor Peter McGraw and journalist Joel Warner to travel the Neverland (the world, actually), in search of “the thing” that made people laugh. The pair conducted social experiments at their many stops around the world, and six of their findings made it to this list.

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  1. Natural free-flowing humor is funnier than mass-produced comedy. McGraw and Warner watched a Japanese show with professional comedians. They went there on the premise that if they laughed at the jokes without understanding the Japanese language, that would strongly suggest that humor is indeed universal regardless of language. They missed the jokes completely, however. Backstage, they met up with the comedians and they bantered. It didn’t take them long to warm up to each other and laughing about jokes. The language barrier was not a barrier for their spontaneous jokes.
  2. Men are likelier to double up in guffaws than women. It doesn’t mean that men are funnier than women, they simply often try harder. Men also tend to joke about sex and women, which women often find distasteful. Except for those types of jokes, men and women enjoy their equal share of chuckles. Warner also takes note that men show off their funny side to indicate their mental intelligence and social competence. Women tend to warm to a funny person easily, too.
  3. People find something to laugh about in the most difficult and controversial things. It could be the expose about the President’s secret affair, an impending civil war, or the annoying traffic; humor tends to spring more naturally from these negative situations than from quiet and peaceful sanctuaries. McGraw and Warner say that this is man’s way of coping. They found this while trekking war-torn Palestine. Ordinary people laughed at their own version of Saturday Night Live which had its own jokes at the expense of Osama Bin Laden, Barack Obama, and other well-known figures.
  4. American people spread its dumb blonde jokes around the world, but pretty much kept their lawyer jokes to themselves. The world easily picked up America’s 1950s and 1960s jokes about the advent of women joining the workforce. Countries in Europe and South America were experiencing similar socioeconomic changes; it was easy for the jokes to cross international territories. However, Americans exclusively found the jokes about seedy lawyers practicing a supposedly noble profession hilarious.
  5. Everyone thinks their country is the funniest, and people self-rated themselves as the funniest. In the end, McGraw and Warner weren’t able to decide which was funniest. USA could have easily made it to the top list if considered from the American concepts of humor. To be global, however, is a different matter.
  6. The world’s funniest joke was morbid. In 2001, a search for the world’s funniest jokes was launched by a British professor. Thousands of jokes were submitted and people voted on which was the funniest. The funniest joke, after the public rating conducted, was about a person who killed his friend with a gunshot.
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