Earlier this month, scientists at Britain’s “Laugh Lab” unveiled the winner of a global “funniest joke” contest. The experiment was conducted by psychologist Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, and attracted more than 40,000 entries from around the world. While many of the jokes were indeed funny, some jokes were missing from the list of finalists.
Using the Laugh Lab’s 5-point “Giggleometer” rating system, with a “5″ being the funniest, I’d now like to submit a few hilarious jokes that were missing from this year’s “World’s Funniest” pool of entries.
Robert Torricelli’s “farewell” address
Torricelli’s speech, in which he constantly pointed out his penchant toward extremely generous taxpayer-financed philanthropy, was like the bass solo at a KISS concert – way too long, lots of tongue wagging, scary, heavily made-up, and made you want to get up and go to the bathroom.
What made the Torricelli speech a great joke was the pure comedic emotional physicality involved. The look of panic that overcame the senator – as he realized his days in the office he coveted were numbered – gave him a grimace of disgust combined with fear … suggesting that he was a man who had no idea how to make a living outside politics or that he’d just been propositioned by a see-through teddy-clad Bea Arthur. Combine that with the tears that welled up as he realized that his days of dry-humping the public trough were all but in the past, and this joke became quite effective and funny.
Giggleometer rating = 4
People with flags that have turned to rags
We’ve all witnessed one of the least-funny jokes to be making the rounds – people who haven’t bothered to replace their American flag since Marilyn Monroe was bouncing around Hyannis Port playing “musical Kennedys.” This is becoming a national embarrassment.
Even some public institutions are shaming the country and keeping ratty-looking flags flying. I drove by a local post office the other day and they had run up the pole what, from a distance, appeared to be a pair of skivvies dredged from the bottom of Willie Nelson’s laundry hamper. They weren’t, of course, as evidenced by the fact that the downwind portion of the city didn’t have a contact buzz, but it was disgraceful nonetheless.
This joke provided a tiny grin of pity, but still more sad than funny.
Giggleometer rating = 1
Harry Belafonte saying that Colin Powell has sold out his race
Belafonte made a name for himself “singin’ for da man” and he has the gall to accuse Colin Powell of Uncle Tomming his way to the top? True, Powell’s only achieved one of the nation’s highest offices and met with some of the world’s most powerful people. He hasn’t defiantly broken the stereotypical mold like Belafonte and gone into the entertainment business. Maybe someday, Powell will go a step further and decide to really break free of whitey’s grip by taking up tap dancing and shoe shining.
Career advice from a man who sings a line like, “Come on Mister Tally Man, tally me banana”? I don’t know for sure, but if I were Powell, I’d stay the course.
Giggleometer rating = 2
Barbra Streisand’s note to Dick “Gebhart”
Comedy via the written word is one of the most difficult things to pull off successfully, but Babs has come through with flying colors in her letter to Dick Gephardt. Streisand’s note to the man with the most accurate first name in all of politics contained a few well-publicized misspellings, but the real joke came later when Barbra blamed it on the fact that it was written down by another person, making her the Doris Kearns Goodwin of the vacuum-skulled diva sect. That should be a lesson to us all – if you’re going to get somebody to make you sound smarter, find somebody who is smarter. Babs picked the one person in the country who isn’t. What dumb luck.
I’ve always wanted to attend one of the concerts where she rails against conservative greed, but I’m never quite able to come up with the $1,500 for a ticket. Doing my part to fight greed will have to wait until I can come up with more cash. You have to like the fact that she made a movie called “Funny Girl” though. At least she admits it.
Giggleometer rating = 5
Streisand is the clear winner. Perhaps next year, the Laugh Lab will recognize her hilarity. Until then, I’m sure that 2003 will hold in store many, many more entries for next year’s contest.