The World’s funniest joke

Why did the chicken cross the road ………..?

Because he was research assistant for the LaughLab!

Certainly not the funniest joke in the World ,but what is? This site was a year long search for the funnist joke in the world , a joke so funny that ………. well never mind.

What it did also show was the cultural differences in humour

Fascinating differences also emerged between nations in terms of the jokes they found funny. People from The Republic of Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand expressed a strong preference for jokes involving word plays, such as:

Patient: “Doctor, I’ve got a strawberry stuck up my bum.”
Doctor: “I’ve got some cream for that.

Americans and Canadians much preferred gags where there was a sense of superiority – either because a person looked stupid, or was made to look stupid by another person, such as:

Texan: “Where are you from?”
Harvard grad: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.”
Texan: “Okay – where are you from, jackass?”

Finally, many European countries, such as France, Denmark and Belgium, liked jokes that were somewhat surreal, such as:

An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote:
“Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.”
The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: “There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.”
“But,” the dog replied, “that would make no sense at all.”

These European countries also enjoyed jokes that involved making light of topics that often make us feel anxious, such as death, illness, and marriage. For example:

A patient says: “Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip, I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: “Could you please pass the butter.” But instead I said: “You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life”.”

Interestingly, Germany was the exception. Germans did not express a strong preference for any type of joke – this may well explain why they came first in our league table of funniness – they do not have any strong preferences and so tend to find a wide spectrum of jokes funny.

(Some may cruelly say its because the Germans do not get any humour at all)


This world famous, year long, project set out to discover the world’s funniest joke.

It was created by Prof. Richard Wiseman and The British Association for the Advancement of Science, and involved people sending in their favourite jokes, and rating how funny they found the jokes submitted by others.

The project was reported across the globe, resulting in us receiving over 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings.

LaughLab has now finished, but you can read all about it on this site, and in Prof. Wiseman’s new book, Quirkology.

Listen to Prof Wiseman talk at The Hayward Gallery about his scientific search for the world’s funniest joke here.

Fun facts

We counted the number of words in every joke that people submitted. According to the data, jokes containing 103 words are the funniest.

Many of the jokes submitted contained reference to animals. We found that jokes mentioning ducks are funnier than others. Perhaps it’s because of their beaks, or webbed feet, or odd shape. Regardless, the implication is clear – if you are going to tell a joke involving an animal, make it a duck.

One of the most important parts of the body’s defenses against disease and illness is its ‘immune system’. Experiments suggest that people who laugh more, and are able to look on the funny side of life, have healthier immune systems than others.

A good laugh also increases our heart rate, helps us breathe more deeply, and stretches many different muscles in our face and upper body. In fact, it is like a mini work-out – a quick visit to the giggle gym.

One researcher estimated that a good laugh produces an increase in heart rate that is equivalent to ten minutes on a rowing machine or fifteen minutes on an exercise bike .

Philosophers and scientists have been fascinated by humour for over 2000 years. The famous philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) wrote a great deal about the topic. Unfortunately, we only have indirect references to his ideas because his actual treatise on laughter has been lost in the mists of time. Interestingly, it is this ‘lost volume’ of humour that lays at the centre of the well known book and film ‘The Name of the Rose’.

Scientific research has shown that 35% of people have been tickled in the past week, 86% in the past year , 40% of people have tickled someone else in the past week, and 84% in the past year.

On a personal note , I would also like to point out the power of laughter as a weapon. When you can laugh at something suddenly its not threatening anymore. Imagine a dictator standing to give a speach ….and the crowd just starts to laugh. Imagine Hitler trying to give a speach with toilet paper hanging out the back of his trousers

But that is the trouble with political jokes……….they keep getting elected!!!


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