World's Funniest Joke Named

from the phew dept

Better be careful with this one. As we pointed out last year a lab in the UK was imitating Monty Python in looking for the world’s funniest joke. They’ve now completed the search. However, they’ve found a number of regional differences when it comes to humor (not surprisingly). Folks in UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand like word play, while those of us in North America like jokes that make people look stupid. Germans like all kinds of jokes, while the Japanese apparently don’t joke at all. What’s amusing though, is seeing how different places around the world are reporting this. Notice that the basis for everyone of the following articles is the same story – but they all include a different joke. A US newspaper, for instance includes the best American joke. A Canadian site mentions that Canadians are not easily amused. A UK site includes (of course) a popular UK joke, but also shows the American joke and a European joke. Yahoo, in their lowest common denominator way includes a bunch of different jokes for your reading pleasure, while CNN (not very funny at all) only includes the winning joke, but no others. The Times of India focuses on the fact that the funniest joke was submitted by a UK Indian. Ah… cultural differences.

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Comments on “World's Funniest Joke Named”

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dorpus says:

Culturally specific humor

From my experience as a translator, humor that translates well across cultures tend to be simple, lame, and tame.

A more interesting analysis would be to find the patterns for the funniest jokes in any culture, regardless of offensiveness. A lot of assumptions are implicit in culturally specific jokes.

An example of an American joke that doesn’t translate well:

Q: How many gays does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: That’s not funny!

This joke would have difficulty understood by foreigners because:
1. Why screw in a light bulb?
2. “That’s not funny” is an expression often used by people who promote political correctness.
3. What is political correctness?

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