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In September 2001 Richard Wiseman and The British Association for the Advancement of Science embarked on one of the world’s largest, and most unusual, scientific experiments. The project aimed to find the world’s funniest joke and answer important questions about the psychology of humour.

Questions such as:

Do men and women find the same jokes funny?

Does our sense of humour change as we grow older?

When is the best time of day to tell a joke?

Do people from different countries laugh at the same jokes?

The idea was very simple. The LaughLab website contained two sections. In the first section, people could submit their favourite jokes. In the second section, people answered a few simple questions about themselves – such as whether they were male or female, young or old, and which country they were from – and then rated how funny they found a random selection of jokes that had been submitted by others using a highly scientific 'giggleometer' (see below).

The experiment captured the imagination of people across the globe and thousands flocked to site. We couldn’t allow any really offensive jokes onto the site, and so each and every joke had to be vetted. This job was carried out by LaughLab team members Helen and Emma.

Within days, Helen and Emma had lost their sense of humour, and gained the finest collection of rude jokes anywhere in the world.

Over the course of a year we received over 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings. At the end of the project, we discovered the gags that made men giggle and women groan, those that tickled children but not adults, and the jokes that proved most popular in different countries. After much hard work, we finally managed to track down the world’s funniest joke.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in the project for providing us with some hilarious jokes and fascinating data. We hope that you enjoy reading about the results.



The winning joke

In second place

Humour across the globe

It's all about timing

The brain's funnybone

Freudian funnies

Superiority theory

Incongruity theory

Images and soundclips

Fun facts

Tech stuff