Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maybe if we just told the jokes louder

It turns out that, as you age, you don't simply start losing things like your eyesight, hearing, and a grasp on contemporary music. You also start to lose your sense of humor.

A study conducted by the University of Washington has made this observation, possibly due to other brain issues associated with aging. The study involved one group of 40 people over 65, and another group of 40 undergraduates, and tested their ability to offer punchlines for jokes or stories. There also was an element where the participants were asked to choose the correct "funny" panel to end a Ferd'nand comic strip (we can't actually make an assumption on how funny it may or may not have been, being completely unfamiliar with Ferd'nand). Over the course of the study, the younger group scored, on average, 6 percent better on verbal jokes, and 14 percent better on visual gags.

One of the professors for the study, Brian Carpenter, made it clear that, "This wasn't a study about what people find funny. It was a study about whether they get what's supposed to be funny." Well, thank heavens for that. We'd hate to see this type of study devolve into one group fighting for Dane Cook's position in the comedy regime, while the other group talks about Benny Hill and how good the "good old days" were.

Overall, though, this study is relatively comforting in many ways, and disturbing in others. Comforting to know that comedians aren't failing to deliver jokes properly to older audiences, but that older audiences just don't get it anymore. As for the disturbing part? Let's just look at the current administration, and then examine the fact that "The Family Circus" is still being published in newspapers. We're not making any direct correlation, but the circumstance is there.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we've got some lawns to get off of.

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