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Joke study to get underway

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Joke study to get under way


A Scottish scientist is trying to find out what makes a joke a joke.


He will be examining gags for factors like surprise, ambiguity, repetition and exaggeration.


He won't try to find out which ones are funny and says he is looking at the problem from the point of view of a language expert.


Dr Graeme Ritchie, of Edinburgh University, says his research will be very academic and unlikely to be read by anyone but linguists.


However he will be looking at joke books and text books in a bid to dismantle some of the funniest lines to find out what makes them work.


He told the Daily Record: "Humour is a complex and largely unexplained behaviour. It has great importance in culture and society but we do not know why it developed.


"The explanation is not obvious, as it might be in the case of a key human drive like the need to feed."


Last year a study named Britain's funniest joke after a nationwide survey of people's differing sense of humour.


The winner was: Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go camping, and pitch their tent under the stars. During the night, Holmes wakes his companion and says: "Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce."


Watson says: "I see millions of stars, and even if a few of those have planets, it's quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life." Holmes replies: "Watson, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent."


Story filed: 08:26 Friday 17th May 2002




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We first heard of this study about a year ago on one of these forums. The same joke was atop the list then too. At that time they were rating the Germans as having the greatest sense of humour. Go figure.

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