Official: Canned laughter makes jokes seem funnier | Even these corny gags the researchers used

Official: Canned laughter makes jokes seem funnier

Even these corny gags the researchers used

It will not be welcome news for everyone - but canned laughter makes bad jokes funnier, a new study has found.

According to newly published research, volunteers found ‘groanworthy’ gags funnier if they could hear other people chuckling. And the more authentic the pre-recorded laughter, the better.

Comedian Ben Van Der Velde, pictured, recorded 40 ‘dad jokes’ that the academics found on the internet to play to the subjects.

They heard the punchline followed by either no laughter, ‘posed’ laughter – created by a second group of people faking a response – or spontaneous laughter, a genuine response recorded while people watched funny YouTube videos. The volunteers were then asked to rate the funniness of the joke on a scale of one to seven.

Researchers found that even the fake laughter upped the average score of each joke by about 10 per cent, with the spontaneous laughter typically hiking the scores  15 to 20 per cent.

The team said they deliberately used bad gags – see below – saying: ‘The jokes were all somewhat puerile: this was to  avoid a ceiling effect that might mask any effects of added laughter’. Thye also chose puns and wordplay, rather than punchlines  that ‘rely on  interpretation of intentions or social rules’.

The research was led by Sophie Scott, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, and published in the journal Current Biology.

In conclusion, the team said: ‘Laughter tracks were initially introduced because listeners did not always realise that radio comedies were meant to be funny. 

‘Our data suggest that laughter may also influence how funny the comedy itself is perceived to be.’

The research had a serious point as it compared the results among autistic volunteers and neurotypical ones – and found no difference between each group in the effect different types of laugh track had on the ratings of the jokes

‘This might suggest that comedy and laughter could be more accessible to people with autism than typically considered to be,’ the team wrote.

In fact those with autism rated all of the 40 jokes as funnier. ‘This may be because the neurotypical adults were more aware that these "dad jokes" are considered childish and uncool,’ the researchers wrote. ‘While the autistic adults were more open to such jokes.’

Here are the gags the researchers tried:

What do you call a bear with no socks on? Bare foot.   What button is impossible to unbutton? The belly button.    What did Michael Jackson call his denim store? Billie Jeans.   What is invisible and smells of worms? A bird's fart.    What do you call a Minecraft celebration? A block party.    Who is the best Kung Fu vegetable? Brocc‐Lee.   What do you call a rabbit who is angry over getting burnt? A hot cross  bunny.  
What did the butt say to the other butt? PTTTTT .  
 What's orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.  Why couldn't the toilet paper cross the road? He got stuck in a crack.  
What's round and sounds like a trumpet? A crumpet. 
What do you call a sleeping dinosaur? A dino‐SNORE.
 What do you call a man with a spade on his head? Dug.   What kind of hair do they sell at IHOP (International House Of Pancakes)? Eggstensions.  
What do you call an Asian man who always has correct change? Exact Lee. 
 What do you call an apple that farts? A fruity Tooty.   What is the best day to cook? FRY‐DAY. 
What did the horse say when it fell? GIDDYUP! 
What do you receive when you ask a lemon to help? Lemon aid  Why can’t you give Elsa a balloon? Because she will let it go.   When does a sandwich cook? When it is bakin' lettuce and tomato.   Why did the smartphone need glasses? It lost all its contacts.   
What state has the smallest drinks? Mini‐soda.    Why did the cow cross the road? They wanted to go to the mooooovies. 
What do you call a funky car? Mustang.   
What did the hammer say to his homeboys? Nailed it.
Why are cats good at video games? Because they have nine lives.
What do you call a deer with no eyes? No idea. What is big and green and if it falls out of a tree will kill you? A snooker table. 
What did the French guy do when he drank too much water? He went oui  oui in his pants  Where do pencils spend their vacation? Pencil‐Vania.  What do flies eat for breakfast? A bowl of poop loops.   Why did the balloon go near the needle? He wanted to be a pop star.  What did the duck do when he read all these jokes? He quacked up.
Why was the tomato all red? It saw the salad dressing.  What do you call a female magician in the dessert? A sand witch. How do billboards talk? Sign language.
What is brown and sticky? A stick.
I hurt my foot driving the other day. You know what I called? The toe  company. 
What does a dinosaur use to pay bills? Tyrannosaurus checks. 

Published: 23 Jul 2019

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