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All jokes fit into eight categories, says scientist
There are only eight ways to make people laugh, according to a researcher who claims to have found the key to why jokes are funny.
Alastair Clarke, a British evolutionary theorist, identified eight patterns which all jokes could fit into no matter where you come from in the world.
Mr Clarke came to his conclusions after studying more than 20,000 examples of humour through the ages, from a man breaking wind in the 14th century Miller's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer to modern television sketch shows such as Little Britain.
All the humour could fit into the eight categories regardless of civilisation, culture or personal taste.
"While it may seem bizarre to some, these few patterns are the real stimulus that makes us laugh, regardless of the content of the sitcom we're watching or the funny story we're being told," said Mr Clarke, who is publishing his findings in a book.
He said the brain subconsciously seeks out the patterns and when it discovers them is rewarded for its efforts.
"Sometimes a single pattern is the cause but just as often combinations of two or three are recognised simultaneously," he said.
"Theoretically there is no limit to the number of patterns that may combine to make a person laugh."
The patterns include "positive repetition" such as Little Britain's "Only gay in the village" catchphrase and "scale" like the oversized features on caricatures in Spitting Image.
There is also "qualification" where a familiar word is said in an unfamiliar way. An example of this is Inspector Clouseau's accent in the Pink Panther films.
"Qualitative recontextualisation" is described as when something you know well is changed. An example of this is when you laugh at someone's new haircut.
"Application" is words having a double meaning.
The other three patterns are "completion" where the audience has to guess at, imagine or complete a phrase or scenario, "division" where a joke is broken up and told by different people and "opposition" which covers irony and sarcasm.
While the researchers said that the patterns were not how to guides for potential comedians they could help script writers improve sitcoms and films.
"The subject a comedian is talking about still has to be novel or interesting to grab the listeners attention," said Mr Clarke, who also plans to publish The Humour Ten Thousand guide later this year with publishers Pyrrhic House.
I have a bunch of "Wyomingisms" that I have accumulated over the years. When I mention them to people, they laugh because there is TRUTH in the Wyomingisms. Take, for instance:
Wyoming Car Pool is one pick up truck, one driver, and three or more dogs.
Wyoming: Where you don't need nor use directional signals because everyone knows WHO you are and WHERE you are going.
Wyoming: Where directions can include: Turn LEFT at the dead cow.
So, you need to analyze your jokes and see if there is some TRUTH in them. If you cannot see any truth, then they are not funny. You might need to ask some friends if they see any truth, and by their answers, you will know why people are not laughing at your jokes.