The Best Joke in the World

cat laughing

Just listened to the latest Guardian Science podcast, and although it was mainly not very interesting (a rare occurrence, indeed), there was some good stuff about laughter and humor.

The guest, Mr. or Dr. Something or other, said that his best guess at the evolutionary background of laughter is that it was a social indication that something was surprising, but not threatening.

“I saw a tiger, but it turned out the be tree. Hilarious!”

He figures it’s social because, among other things, most people watching a movie alone don’t laugh out loud very often, compared to when another person is watching as well.

[Incidentally, this is why “lol” used to actually mean something. If you’re sitting at your computer by yourself and literally laugh out loud, then the other person must have typed something truly funny. It doesn’t mean “laugh out loud” anymore, since so many people use it to mean, “I’m kidding.”]

He also says that both men and women find a sense of humor desirable in a mate. But a man usually means that a woman will laugh at his jokes, while a woman usually means that a man will make her laugh.

So they both do want the same thing.


They did some research and found that most people find things more funny in the middle of the month rather than at the beginning or end. But they had no guesses about why that might be.

Off the top of my head, I’d guess… MONEY. I don’t know about you, but the middle of the month paycheck is the one I get to keep. The end/beginning of the month paycheck is the one I give to all the people who’ve lent me money in the past (banks) or who send me electricity and such.

Anyway, they did tell a few jokes on the podcast:

A woman walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a double-entendre. He gave her a good one.


I don’t really say, “he gave a her a good one,” to mean that he had sex with her, but I understand that some people do.

One that I’d already heard, but is funny enough:

A man calls 911 and says, “I was hunting with my friend and he suddenly grabbed his heart and collapsed and fell down dead! What do I do! What do I do! Oh no!”

The 911 person says, “ok, sir, please try to calm down. First, let’s make sure he’s really dead….”


“Ok, now what?”

Part of the study was to ask a wide variety of people to rank a series of jokes, and the one that averaged the highest won. The thing to remember is that this doesn’t mean that anyone thought this was the funniest joke. But it was the one that AVERAGED out better than any others.

So they called it…

THE BEST JOKE IN THE WORLD (knowing that it really isn’t):

Sherlock Holmes and Watson were lying in a field at night.

Holmes: Watson, tell me what you see when you look into the sky.

Watson: I see millions of stars.

Holmes: And what do you deduce from that?

Watson: Well, millions of stars… some percentage must have planets, some must be like ours [etc. etc.], so there’s probably life out there.

Holmes: Watson, you idiot. It means that someone has stolen our tent.

3 Responses to The Best Joke in the World

  1. Mickey R March 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    The World’s Funniest Joke is not something to be trifled with…

  2. weeklyrob March 29, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    They actually opened with part of that clip in the podcast!

  3. Michael Silver March 29, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Good article. I do like for my girlfriend to make me laugh, but I also do feel pressure to make her laugh. Unfortunately, me making anyone laugh is a tall order.

    The Hitler ending had me lol. The literal lol.

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