May 2, 2024

The Funniest Joke in the World

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

If you Google "The Funniest Joke in the World," you'll be very disappointed. The internet might serve you something like, "What has many keys but can't open a single lock??” (Answer: A piano). Screw that. That's not funny. Enter Science Vs. We’re going on a romp to find out once and for all: What is the funniest joke in the world. According to science. And for this quest we've interviewed a bunch of amazing comics including Tig Notaro, Adam Conover, Dr Jason Leong, Loni Love, as well as special guest Latif Nasser of Radiolab and, of course, some scientists: Neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott and Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman. Which Joke Will Win??? 


Find our transcript here:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) The Quest Begins

(08:40) Why laughing matters

(13:13) The scientific search for the world's funniest joke

(17:40) Woof, quack or moo?

(21:33) The comedy K

(26:30) Do different cultures have different senses of humour?

(28:27) The winner!

(32:15) Scientific theories of humour (lol)

(38:28) Why the winning joke isn't funny

(40:26) How do you stop a dog from humping your leg? 

(44:43) Meet the comedy gods

This episode was produced by Wendy Zukerman, with help from Michelle Dang, Joel Werner, Rose Rimler and Meryl Horn. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Sarah Baum. Mix and sound design by Bobby Lord. Music written by Peter Leonard Bumi Hidaka, Emma Munger, So Wylie, and Bobby Lord. Thanks to all the researchers we spoke to including Dr Andrew Farkas, Professor Penny MacDonald, Dr Maggie Prenger and a huge thank you to Professor Chris Westbury for sharing your amazing spreadsheet!! Thanks to all the comedians we interviewed in this episode including Tig Notaro, Adam Conover, Loni Love, Takashi Wakasugi, Urooj Ashfaq, Dr Jason Leong, Penny Greenhalgh, and Mohammed Magdi.

Another big thanks to Lindsay Farber, Roland Campos, Lauren LoGiudice, Andrea Jones-Rooy and the other comics at dice, Andrea Jones-Rooy and the other comics at Ha! or Nah!: A Joke Lab; and all the comics that we spoke to and couldn't fit into the episode, we really really appreciate you and your time! Thanks to Ben Milam, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Stupid Old Studios, Paige Ransbury, the Zukerman Family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.

Science Vs is a Spotify Studios Original. Listen for free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us and tap the bell for episode notifications. 

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