What makes you laugh tells one anthropologist a lot about who you are deep down ...You can figure it out, too, with this handy quiz!
by Amanda Louise Miller, NPR Junkie
These days, we have a lot to thank Science for.
For starters, there's NASA's uber-adorable Mohawk Guy.
(If you like this, check out his interview on YouTube.)
Then, there's that awesome 360-degree "Bullet-Time" footage of the Olympic Gymnasts that instantly turns American teenage girls into characters from The Matrix.
And then there's this: an NPR Morning Edition story all about the science of funny. The featured scientist in the story, Robert Lynch, is an anthropologist-slash-stand-up-comedian, who researches what makes certain people laugh at certain things.
In a nutshell, his findings -- "You laugh when a joke resonates with your inner values and beliefs" --- seem both common-sensical and, at the same time, kind of revelatory.
Lynch conducted experiments in which subjects completed a psychological test to measure unconscious gender attitutes and then listened to "edgy" stand-up comedy -- where jokes were cracked about topics like date rape or gender inequality. He then compared the results of the test to the subjects' reactions to the comedian, and found a direct, documentable match between what people believed deep-down and what they found funny.
To quote the article, "A joke... is like a little brain scan. When we laugh, we reveal what's inside of us." Whether we intend to or not.
Lynch believes laughter evolved as a signal - when two people laugh at the same joke, they become instantly (at least subconsiously) aware that they have some value or belief in common. This might very well be why people in all cultures look for friends and romantic partners who share a sense of humor.
Sometimes this laughter-as-communion is a conscious thing, particularly in the world of social media. When we post a video, photo, or meme to our Facebook wall, for example, we are proudly proclaiming to the world: "I get this joke. This is something that's important to me, and I hope you find it funny, too."
When I share something like the #whatshouldwecallplaywrights tumblr page on my Timeline, I'm both defining myself and hoping at least some of my Facebook friends will "like" my sense of humor and self-definition.
(Seriously, check out this page! I'm already obsessed.)
But in the non-virtual world, the concept of laughter-as-personality-test may not happen quite so deliberately. Often we need a helpful hand to push us toward compatible compadres. But forget eHarmony, Match.com, or your neighborhood matchmaker -- all you need to suss out potential friends and partners is this quick and handy dandy 10-question test:
Find a partner, preferably someone with whom you want to gauge compatibility. Both of you should answer the following questions independently:
Do you find the following items funny? (Check yes or no.)
- Achmed, the Dead Terrorist. yes__ no__
- The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain performing "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (skip over the banter to the song at :45). yes __ no__
- Robin Williams discussing the Winter Olympics. yes__ no__
- Charlie the Unicorn yes__ no__
- Talking Cats yes__ no__
- David After Dentist yes__ no__
- "Who's On Top and Who's On Bottom Now?" yes__ no__
- "Spell it With Your Peas" yes__ no__
- "We're All Gay" yes__ no__
- Bonus! yes__ no__
The more answers you have in common with your partner, theoretically, the more compatible you are. You can even come up with your own compatibility test. This random page of funny stuff would be a good place to start. If you're really ambitious - or really bored - you can even rate your answers on a 1-5 scale or try and put the videos in order from most funny to least funny, and compare the results.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: 1: yes, 2: heck yes!, 3: yup, 4: hell no, 5: every time, 6: nope, 7: absolutely!, 8: indeed, 9: sure do, and 10: fo shizzle!
Bottom line: if you find this as hilarious as I do, we're definitely going to get along: