In 2001 psychologist Richard Wiseman created LaughLab; a yearlong project to discover the funniest joke in the world. After analysing 40,000 jokes that were rated over 1.5 million times, the project was finalised and the winning joke was announced. According to Wiseman and his team, the funniest joke in the world goes as follows: Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?" (Laughlab, 2002, p. 4).
The research by LaughLab attempts to quantify humoristic properties. However, the project does not show the linguistic workings of jokes that cause them to be funny to us. What factors enable people to understand jokes? What prevents people from understanding…show more content… This interpretation or meaning given to an utterance is what Clark calls a construal. In order to understand a joke, it is important that the speaker and addressee have a mutual understanding of the construal. This is called a joint construal An important part of this principle are misconstruals. When an utterance is misconstrued, the speaker and the addressee have failed to come to a mutual understanding (1996, p. 212). It is often the case that when a joke is misconstrued, the addressee will miss the humoristic interpretation of the joke which causes the joke to fail. However, it is also possible that misconstruals cause funny or humoristic situations. Victor Raskin describes a phenomenon called joke telling as a non-bona-fide communication (1985, p. 100-101). This phenomenon occurs when a speaker forms an utterance that is not meant to be funny but is interpreted as