The world's funniest joke? That's a laugh
Read on for a selection of the world's favourite jokes - and some of the worst
Scientists investigating the psychology of laughter have picked the world's funniest joke.
"The response has been enormous with over 10,000 jokes submitted and over 100,000 people from over 70 countries rating them," commented Dr Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire in England, who devised "Laughlab".
A joke about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson submitted by Geoff Anandappa, from Blackpool emerged the overall winner, with a top rating from 47% of those taking part.
Dr Wiseman stressed that the results were preliminary: "The data collection period will continue till March 2002 when we move to the second phase of the experiment. In the meantime we challenge people to submit a funnier joke."
The experiment also identified the worst jokes, and discovered what men, women, and people of different nationalities find funny. "This is an intriguing finding, and we will be carrying out more research to discover exactly what is going on here," said Dr Wiseman.
One surprising result was that out of 11 nationalities, Germans rated more jokes "very funny" than anyone else. Being easily amused is not the same as having a good sense of humour, however.
One joke which had the Germans in stitches involved a long-winded description of how to tell the weather by placing your dog outside the back door and examining its fur. It ends: "Of course, to be able to tell the weather like this, you have to leave the dog outside all the time, especially if you expect bad weather. Sincerely, the CAT."
Canada was at the bottom of the list, and Britain in seventh place. Norway's least favourite joke was submitted by UK scientist and presenter, Adam Hart-Davis.
Men and women favour different types of jokes. Top jokes for males involve aggression, putting women down and sexual innuendo. In contrast, females prefer jokes involving word play. "These findings reflect fundamental differences in the ways in which males and females use humour" said Dr Wiseman. "Males use humour to appear superior to others, whilst women are more linguistically skilled and prefer word-puns."
The experiment was devised in collaboration with the British Association for the Advancement of Science as part of Science Year, a British Government initiative which aims to raise awareness of science among young people.
The website (www.laughlab.co.uk
) gives people the opportunity to submit jokes and also rate jokes submitted by others on a five-point 'smileometer' scale. Sue Hordijenko of the British Association said: "Laugh Lab looks set to be the most far-reaching psychology experiment ever."
The best joke:
The best joke, submitted by Geoff Anandappa, from Blackpool, goes like this: 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 ..."
A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, "Just take it easy. First, let's make sure he's dead." There's silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says, "OK, now what?"
The worst jokes, with 74% of people awarding them the lowest rating, are:
- Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.
- Why are chickens considered good employees? Because they work around the cluck
The leading jokes around the world were:
A man left for a holiday to Jamaica. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send her an e-mail. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her web address, he did his best to type it from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter, and his note went to an elderly preacher's wife whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor dead. Her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen: Dearest wife, Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Your Loving Husband. PS. Sure is hot down here.
A man goes to the doctor and says: "Doctor, there's a piece of lettuce sticking out of my bottom." The doctor asks him to drop his trousers and examines him. The man asks: "Is it serious, doctor?" and the doctor replies: "Yes, I'm sorry to tell you that it's the tip of the iceberg."
"You're a high-priced lawyer! If I give you 500 dollars, will you answer two questions for me?"
"Absolutely! What's the second question?"
A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying: "Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!" After a few seconds, Little Johnny stood up. The teacher said: "Do you think you're stupid, Little Johnny? Little Johnny replied: "No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself."
"Well, you see, there are basically three kinds of people in the world. Those who can count and those that can't."
As a funeral train passes by a golf course, a golfer on one of the greens stops, stands to attention with hat held over his heart as the hearse goes by. Then he goes back to lining up his putt. His playing partner remarks how that was the nicest gesture he'd ever seen, to show such respect for the dead. The first golfer sinks his putt and says: "Well, she was a good wife for 16 years."
Why is television called a medium? It is neither rare nor well done.
A guy phones the local hospital and yells: "You've gotta send help! My wife's in labour!" The nurse says: "Calm down. Is this her first child?" He replies: "No! This is her husband!"
What do you call a woman who can balance four pints of beer on her head? - Beatrix.
A priest conducts a service in church "The person who puts the most in the church collection box can choose three hymns," he says. The collection box comes back after being filled up and he finds that someone has donated $1,000.
"Who has donated a thousand dollars?" he asks. A women raises her hand. The priest invites her to the front and tells her to choose three hymns. Pointing at the three most handsome men in the church she says: "I'll have him, him and him."
Sexes divided by humour
THE following jokes were all loved by men and disliked by women:
While robbing a home, a burglar hears someone say, "Jesus is watching you."
To his relief, he realises that it is only a parrot mimicking something it had heard. The burglar asks the parrot, "What's your name?" The parrot says, "Moses." The burglar goes on to ask: "What kind of person names their parrot Moses?" The parrot replies: "The same kind of person that names his Rottweiler Jesus."
A man runs home and bursts in yelling: "Pack your bags sweetheart, I've just won the lottery, all six numbers!" She says: "Oh wonderful! Should I pack for the beach or the mountains?" He replies: "I don't care ... just pack and shove off!"
A man walked into a psychiatrist's office wearing only cling-film underpants. The psychiatrist said: "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."
In contrast, women preferred jokes involving word plays. The following jokes came top of the ratings for females but were disliked by men:
A man said: "I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library." I thought: "That's a turn-up for the books."
A man had a dog called Minton. One day it ate two shuttlecocks. When the owner found out he said bad Minton!
A man walks into a bar with a piece of Tarmac under his arm. He says to the barman: "A pint for me and one for the road."
The Telegraph, London