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Short Stuff: The Science of Funny Words

2020-07-01 | 🔗

Why are some words funnier than others? Well, one man has sought to figure that out. We'll tell you all about him and his project in today's episode.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Hey the short stuff, I'm Josh nurse shock, and we have one word for you: Buddy wiggle, here's another and chuck poop, that's a genuine! Let his gets me, poop is just it is funny. It's literally a funny word, and this episode we're talking about a guy named Chris Westbury, who is a researcher out of the University of Alberta psychologist actually, and he wanted got. What makes things funny and specifically what makes some words funnier than others, and apparently he was a bit of a math genius as child really got into the statistical analysis kind of stuff and he's apply that as an adult,
in a study that has one of the better names of any study ever published they setting me up, I have yet was called Wrigley. Worthy Lummix and Boobs Colin. What makes some words funny- and this is just super interesting to me too, because like we're talking about with the nouns of assemblage words and etymology really interests me in comedy interests me in even though never done stand up. I know that comedians take a lot of great care with not only the big since the flow in the town but specific words funnier than others, and can really punch up a joke agreed, and it says here in this house too for Ex article a word. Like Schenectady or Rancho Cook. Amanda or Kalamazoo was right or just kind of funny. Words in this guy went out to figure out why yeah he's and why it was they who cares. If this is funny, don't like to do
play into any said now. Do the opposite of that he will sit there and listen when I explain it to you through Josh and Chuck, that's right. So what he did it was he started off with, and this is gonna get really kind of not fun at all in a minute, but he started off with the list Five thousand english words that were did funniest by people? I guess he did a polar something and then he constructed. A mathematical model for predicting which ones what what would funny for every single word like a ranking, I guess yeah for We single word in the dictionary yeah this model. He came up with its kind of complexity. Multi layered can awaken onion and he basically now than in running any any word through. It is ok. He can run The union is a wary, and yes by
He can run any word through it and basically spit out like her. I guess a ranking, delicate, laugh, how shit, how funny? I guess. Yes, how funny that that word will probably be received right- and this is all english word specifically, but he came up with based on this matter. Medical model they ten funniest words when and why we probably shouldn't even say: oh yeah, I guess so by aim. In first amendment, no eight up Chuck year running Bobby off Gay Wrigley YAP. Sure. Giggle Chuck banana Truage K go far, puff ball and generally rights, or does it a tin funniest
runners, upwards, squishy, flappy embargo and duck as a great one, poop puke in boobs cafeteria. Just now I just got you just I mean it's funny. Poop is funny The same reason fighting is funny yeah, the word yard as far the word for it is funny, but it's also like shame inducing you know like it really makes. You feel really bad about yours. When you use a right yeah, I mean that it might just be me, but basically no one feels bad for saying that were put in. It is just a genuinely funny third yeah and I'll also mention that fighting is the one thing that allows me to hold on to the fact that there may be a God there. Arts yet, and that that God has a sense of humour, because the fact that a smelly, where gas comes out.
But whole and makes a sound yeah. Give us everybody with verified. It is flammable it's one of the greatest about human beings. History of Europe, especially as like food goes in, we say, put in our house now puts good one for obvious reasons. You know what I say, of course, which issued shoot a duck traffic or pretend it didn't happen, one of those two right. So another thing we should mention here is the income income Rudy theory, and that is the idea that this is the tried and true comedy of virtue, which is something unexpected, will make you laugh most times it's when you have an expectation of something in something else happens, a lot of good comedy can come from that I mean that's absolutely
basis of comedy, at least as far as, like all anecdotal evidence, all like sensible, common sense, which is the most sensible current or the most common kind. When we like you really stop and think about incongruity. Thirty ever really really makes a lot of sense right, but yet Chris Westbury was like that's all well and good way to go Cicero for coming up with an congruity theory, but I like to quantify thing so I'm going to do that and we'll be right back to explain exactly how he did that after this guess You know, friends for all our sakes,
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right. There's no end between you're either. Like I'm gonna met this guy. You wouldn't believe, like he's got these theories, a mathematical things. Following like were selling off all of our staff and we're going to start fallen around or is, like God, me away from this dude. I just tried to make a far Jochen. He tried to explain it to me. Let me go find somebody who's been on the key to die for three years and talk to them. Instead, man, that's good so I'm coils money where it could hit Cuz. You know why, because the letter k is in there we'll get to that in a minute totally, but what Christmas Berry did was he basically took all of these words. I think he took several hundred of them to start like a subset of those five thousand funniest words and he just kind of took a rain of upset and he started analyzing them with a google tool that basically shows co occurrence right. So basically, you run these words through this little
Google machine learning algorithm in it spits out other words that people have used instead of or in conjunction with it right and what he figured out was that out of like this couple hundred sample set, you can basically boil it down to six general play Corey's and all of the words had something to do with either an expletive being an expletive sex, the body partying, I guess which one just kind of struck me is out of the blue. I was not expecting that one what else chuck animals or insults, okay, and so those are the six clusters of categories of funny words. Okay, so he said oh Eric Craig, but the thing is: there's a lot of words that, like kind of straddle these categories, how can
How can you say, like you know what makes one funnier than the other what's the deal here and I'm not sure how he did this, I'm not even sure that he knows how he did this baby, but he basically assigned a statistical number. Two. A word and in so far as it related to its category right. So, like gum birthday cake would probably pretty close to the party category like it's. It's probably pretty close are fat or fiesta or something like that. Yes, very close to its synonymous to a word in this category, but even that didn't quite describe what made a word funny, what a guess he figured out, I'm not sure how he did this was that the funny words were related equally right,
Lee to a number of different categories in, it seems like the more that a word was related to one or a number of these six categories, the funnier- it was a good example. He gave was poop right, it's it's, it can be an exploitative, it can be part of the body it can be a party there is that it has to do with multiple categories, and so it's funnier than say Fiesta is you know that made sense to me for the first time after reading this, like seven times, yes, yea at seven, seven, eight ten times, maybe guy, it is the way he was putting it. Never me sense, but you brought it around for me. So thank you. Thank you, Chuck man. That means a lot to me. So he's got to that point, but then he said you know what the meaning of these words. That's only one kind of measurement, everyone else who sang stop. It has put that's good heads your you're fine, you did it, you did it
Is it not an? Oh, that's not enough, meaning is only one type of measurement, and so he said, let's look at in. This is actually kind of the good part to me. He said we need to look at the form of these were words how long they are the individual sounds it make up these words and that's where, in congruity theory of humor Canna, comes back because the fewer times that these phonemes, the individual sounds appear. Like the more rare, they are the funnier that people think they are yet like. Basically, I guess K is much. The case out in particular, is much less used in English, then say like be yet. So that's why, like words with case ounds or are funnier than words t sound, so pickle is funnier than tomato, which is we just inherently now, and so Would Chris Whisperers, basically onto that bit by analyzing the arrange,
of letters and how frequently they occur in words in the english language that he, he tied it into their incongruity theory, and he basically said our brains, are constantly analyzing. The information that's coming in from watching tv or talking to people or rearing or something like that, and we have a certain expectation and when that expectation is met like something that status please improbable like the word wall. The wall, a Washington, comes up out of nowhere. You don't see that every day you were really expecting it in a kind of makes things funny to you, because it triggers that in congruity response yen, that your brain is you dont know it, but it's constantly doing this in the ground and you just here. It is funny right. You discourages Guph Wall, the wall, so yeah just starting out in comedy really patron.
Into the words and especially the words in the punchline cause swapping out. Individual words can make a big difference for sure close with this quote from the Sunshine boys yeah. I think so. The great ever seen this movie, Have not man, but I know it's George Burns and Walter Martha. Yes, it is the best. It is a great great movie about this comedy team who, hate, each other's guts in their old men now, and there are trying to get them. Gather for a reunion, Joe NICE, so Walter Math House, as this fifty seven years in the business. You learned a few things. You know Words are funny in which words are not funny. Alka Seltzer is funny, you say, outcast seltzer, you get a laugh, Casey Stengel, that's a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not
any Cleveland is funny, Maryland is not funny and then there's chicken chicken is funny. Pickle is funny any kind of right. Oh he's beyond kinder right, he's fully right for sure, good stuff, but just one question that was your Walter math. There was a great everybody. Go urged the sunshine boys and ass. He would show us. Imagine you can compare Walter Math out to the real Walter me about that. I'm in the meantime, you can go check out this article on how to approach right jack. That's right in Meantime meantime, shortstop is out of step. He should know. Is the production of Iheart Radios Hasta works for more podcast, my heart, ready I heard radio apple podcast, wherever you listen to your favorite, shows.
Transcript generated on 2020-07-01.