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The world's funniest joke - you gotta be kidding !

01:00 Thu 03rd Oct 2002 |

Dr Richard Wiseman, a University of Hertfordshire psychologist spent a year researching the definitive joke.

But it's easy to see from the hugely unfunny results that this was a project backed by the Government.

As part of the research, Dr Wise-man linked a scanner to the brain of student Ben Savage.

The sense of humour is controlled by a precise area of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex. It becomes stimulated when jokes are told.

'This fits in with other research suggesting that people who have damaged this part of the brain often lose their sense of humour,' Dr Wiseman said.

'Happier people and extroverts find jokes the funniest. Most jokes work because they surprise us, like in the old example of two fish in a tank. One fish turns to the other and says, "Do you know how to drive this "

'The joke works because we set off in one direction, then hear the punchline and realise there is a completely different way of seeing the situation.'

The project also found what makes people laugh in different countries. In the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland it is jokes involving wordplay. American and Canadians like jokes involving superiority and other people looking stupid.

The French and the Belgians go for surreal jokes about death and illness. The Germans laugh at just about anything.

The Winner:

Two hunters were out in the New Jersey woods when one fell to the ground.

He didn;t seem to be breathing and his eyes had rolled back into his head. His friend took out his mobile phone and called the emergency services: 'My friend is dead, what can I do '

The operator tried to calm him. 'Take it easy' I can help. Now first let's be sure your friend is dead.'

There was a brief silnce, followed by a gunshot.

Then the hunter came back on the line: 'OK. Now what '

Some apparent national favourites
ENGLAND: Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One starts to insult the other one. He screams: 'I slept with your mother!'
The bar falls quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do. The first again yells: 'I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!' The other says: 'Go home Dad, you're drunk.'

WALES: A turtle was walking down an alley in New York when he was mugged by a gang of snails. A police officer came to investigate and asked the turtle if he could explain what happened. The turtle looked at the detective with a confused look on his face and replied: 'I don't know, it all happened so fast.'

SCOTLAND: I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.

USA: Two men are playing golf at their local club. One is about to chip to the green when he sees a funeral procession on the road next to the course.
He stops in mid-swing, takes off his cap, closes his eyes and bows in prayer. His friend says: 'Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man.' The man replies: 'Yeah, well, we were married 35 years.'

AUSTRALIA: A woman rushes to her doctor, looking worried and strung out. She says: 'Take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What's wrong with me, doctor ' The doctor looks her over, then calmly says: 'Well, I can tell you that there ain't nothing wrong with your eyesight.'

BELGIUM: Why do ducks have webbed feet To stamp out fires. Why do elephants have flat feet To stamp out burning ducks.

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