Listen: Comedians deconstruct the “Humor Code” at Bridgetown fest

University of Colorado psychology professor Peter McGraw and Denver-based journalist Joel Warner are trying to unlock the formula to funny — what makes something universally funny? — or as they’re calling it, the Humor Code.

They’ve explored the impact of Mad Men drinking on an actual NYC ad agency team to see if everything seemed funnier as they got drunker — “the more you drink, the funnier we become,” the old stand-up MC adage goes. Here are some of the more NSFW Venn diagrams their drunken advertising subjects produced.

They’ve hit up Hollywood, or more specifically the TV studios in Burbank, Calif., to see how the networks employ “professional laughers” to juice the live studio audiences who watch sitcom tapings.

And earlier this month, they visited the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore., to sit a few comedians down and discuss the Humor Code. Of course, Myq Kaplan, Pete Holmes and Mary Mack didn’t stick to the script. Because there was no script. McGraw and Warner noted afterward for Wired magazine: “Despite the hijinks, we managed to carry on a wide-ranging conversation last Saturday on everything from comedians’ drinking problems to gender inequality to whether science has anything to offer stand-up comics.”

Just a jolly good time talking comedy. Sit back. Stand if you must. Enjoy listening to their discussion, moderated by Jordan Morris.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →