Funny Brummie

Midlanders have the best accent for jokes

The best accent for telling jokes is Brummie, according to new academic research.

Experts from the University of Aberdeen studied how 4,000 people responded to a joke told in 11 regional accents.

The Birmingham accent was deemed top, followed by Liverpool, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Wales.

The study, led by Dr Lesley Harbidge and commissioned by Paramount Comedy Channel, suggests that the perceived warmth of an accent has a significant impact on how funny it is seen to be.

But tellingly it also found that the funniest accents were also those considered the least intelligent.

Different accents also suit different styles of jokes. Received Pronunciation (RP), the so-called BBC accent, was seen as most effective to withering one-liners, the Cockney accent was most suited to risque humour, while Geordie was best for anecdotal humour.

In order, the funniest accents were

1 Birmingham (20.8%)
2 Liverpudlian (15.8%)
3 Geordie (14.3%)
4 Welsh (10.5%)
5 Yorkshire (9.2%)
6 Cockney (8.2%)
7 Belfast (8%)
8 South West England (6.6%)
9 Glaswegian (3.4%)
10 Mancunian (2.1%)
11 Received Pronunciation (1.1%)

The test joke went: workmen are eating sandwiches, balancing on a girder way above the ground:

"You ever get that urge, Frank? It begins with looking down from 50 storeys up, thinking about the meaningless of life, listening to dark voices deep inside you, and you think, 'Should I?... should I?...should I push someone off?"'

Dr Harbridge said:  ‘What is especially fascinating about this research is how perceived stupidity and amusement value go hand in hand – it seems that we are more concerned with laughing at people, rather that with them.’

Published: 21 Aug 2006

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