Monday, April 02, 2007


Trying to analyse Humour, and what makes it funny, is like trying to define Beauty. We all have our own ideas about when we are in its presence, but explaining it, defining it, or more accurately trying to explain it analytically or logically, immediately ensures that an air of bored depression engulfs us. John Cleese, a man who has been responsible for many moments when I have literally been hysterically and incapably rolling around on the floor at something he has written or said, is almost the worst at this. He has appeared on several TV programmes attempting to dissect what humour is about, and I have found him, consistently, depressingly and stultifyingly boring on the subject.

Now this is being written with the second half of a very nice bottle of New Zealand Riesling coursing progressively through my veins, so perhaps rigorous analytical process may not be at its highest with me just now. So perhaps the reader needs to cut me some intellectual slack as he reads this piece.

But, the Humour thing is perhaps something like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle where the act of trying to locate an atomic particle actually moves it so you can’t deduce where it was originally. Or something like that.

Humour, to me, only works at a totally personal level. I may find something blindingly amusing, but that it absolutely no guarantee that anyone to whom I tell the joke, or situation, will find it amusing in the slightest.

All of which is simply a spattering of phatic (Microsoft has had a fit of the red underlined heeby-jeebies at that word, but I’m backing Chambers Dictionary on this one) communication to introduce a comment I saw the other day which was titled, rather modestly, “The Funniest Joke in the World”. Rather worryingly it was in the “Guardian”, so brace yourself NOT to be amused.

Having said that analysis of Humour puts a death wish on any amusement involved, I will cut to the quick after explaining that these are the results of the University of Hertfordshire (wherever that may be) analysing 40,000 jokes with 2,000,000 ratings from all over the world, all trying to calculate the Best Joke in the World.

Apparently, people from Ireland (The Republic, mind you, so that probably explains a lot), the UK, Australia and New Zealand found this one extremely amusing -
Patient: "Doctor, I've got a strawberry stuck up my bum." Doctor: "I've got some cream for that!"

Yes, well, moving on. Americans and Canadians seemed to enjoy jokes about superiority – now I wonder why that could be. Try this –

Texan: "Where are you from?"

Harvard graduate: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions."

Texan: "OK, where are you from, Jackass?"

Actually, I don’t think the word was “Jackass”, but there you go.

The thing that surprised me about the national differences was the joke which seemed to have the French, the Danes and the Belgians wetting themselves. I thought this was much too surreal for them, and was much more up the Brit’s street.

An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote: "Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof." The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: "There are only nine words here. You could send another Woof for the same price." "But," the dog replied, "that would make no sense at all."

I like that.

But, in true Miss World style here, we’ve kept the best until last. It was sent to the University by some guy in Manchester, and received the highest ratings from voters all around the world. I actually found it very funny, otherwise, I suppose, there would have been little point in me writing all this down.

Cue Trumpets, Cue Dry Ice, Cue Girls in skimpy costumes. Cue Drum Roll! Cue Dale Winton. Well, four out of five can’t be bad!

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"

I suppose “Boom Boom” isn’t very appropriate here, is it?



Anonymous said...

You forgot to give any credit to the author.

rogerc said...

I would have done, if I'd known who he was. I couldn't have made them up myself!


Anonymous said...

(crackly German voice)
Der ver zwei peanuts, valking down der strasse, and von vas... assaulted....peanut. Ho-ho-ho-ho.