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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Psychiatrist's joke 'world's funniest'
Dr Richard Wiseman, a chicken and the world's funniest joke
Dr Wiseman said the joke appealed to young and old
A UK psychiatrist has provided the world with its funniest joke, according to scientists.

Gurpal Gosall, from Manchester, submitted the joke to the LaughLab experiment, conducted by a team at the University of Hertfordshire.

The internet-based search for the best side-splitting gag is thought to have been the largest study of humour ever undertaken.

Conducted by psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman, the study attracted more than 40,000 jokes.

Joke chicken walking across the road
No chicken walks across the road in this joke
Mr Gosall, 31, said his gag about two hunters in the woods makes people feel better.

"Because it reminds them that there is always someone out there who is doing something more stupid than themselves," Mr Gosall told the LaughLab website.

As well as identifying the joke that appealed most to people around the world, the experiment revealed wide humour differences between nations.

Dr Wiseman said Mr Gosall's joke was interesting because it worked across many different countries and appealed to men and women and young and old alike.

The world's funniest joke
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"
He said: "[Jokes] sometimes make us feel superior to others, reduce the emotional impact of anxiety-provoking situations or surprise us because of some kind of incongruity.

"The hunters joke contained all three elements."

One conclusion of the study was that Germans found just about everything funny.

People from the Republic of Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand most enjoyed jokes involving word plays.

Americans and Canadians, on the other hand, preferred jokes where there was a strong sense of superiority - either because a character looks stupid or is made to look stupid by someone else.

Laughlab said it recorded the date and time that each person from the UK rated the jokes in LaughLab.

"Careful analysis of the data revealed that people found the jokes funniest on the 7th October at 6.03 in the evening.

"Perhaps we have scientifically discovered the funniest moment of the year," researchers added.


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See also:

19 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
07 Sep 01 | Talking Point
05 Sep 01 | Glasgow 2001
29 Mar 01 | UK
10 Sep 00 | Festival of science
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