From Nature, “First results in from largest-ever look at humour.”
One of the study’s main goals is to uncover the funniest joke in the world. So far, the joke that has tickled the most funnybones is:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are going camping. They pitch their tent under the stars and go to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up. “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 replied: “Watson, you idiot, somebody stole our tent!”
The study has uncovered intriguing regional differences in humour, with German participants finding the largest proportion of the jokes “very funny”, and Canadians the smallest proportion.
Different countries also have different favourite jokes. Displaying what Wiseman calls a “Carry On” style of humour, the British plump for the following gag:
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, “I’m sorry to tell you but this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
French voters prefer the cynical humour of:
“You’re a high-priced lawyer! If I give you $500, will you answer two questions for me?” “Absolutely! What’s the second question?”