Home Of Second City Comedy Ranks First In Humor | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Home Of Second City Comedy Ranks First In Humor

Play associated audio

Need a good laugh? Try Chicago.

The Humor Research Lab at the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado Boulder (and doesn't that sound like it was created by The Onion?) concocted an algorithm to rate America's funniest cities.

Humor researchers calculated factors like the number of working comics and comedy clubs per capita, funny local tweeters and visits to funny websites. They asked people to assess what they called their "need for levity."

Adrian Ward, a co-author of the study, says it's not all algorithms. "A city's sense of humor is a living, breathing thing created by everything from coffee shop conversations," he says, "to the laughter that erupts at comedy clubs."

Chicago ranked first, not surprisingly. It's home to great comic institutions like Second City, The Onion, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!, and the Chicago City Council.

Boston is No. 2. Boston is a lot like Chicago, but smaller and better educated.

Washington, D.C., is fourth, perhaps because Americans like to watch the antics of official Washington the way they laugh at monkeys in a zoo who fling feces and scratch themselves.

Portland, Ore., is fifth; a nice nod to an engaging place. An unnamed Portlandian told researchers, "We enjoy Darth Vader wearing a kilt riding a unicycle playing the bagpipes."

Make that a line-caught, free-range, shade-grown unicycle in Portland.

New York is sixth. I bet it would be higher if they'd considered just Brooklyn, which, like Chicago, is it's own punch line. But it's too expensive to be funny in Manhattan.

Nothing deflates laughs like algorithms and analysis. But you might notice that all the cities atop this humor survey possess personality. You wouldn't confuse Chicago with Portland; or Portland with Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are also among the top 10. Each of those cities puts a stamp on the people who live there, and humor is an important part of character.

I spent a lot of time last summer with a loved one in the intensive care unit of a Chicago hospital. One middle of the night, I came downstairs to the 24-hour Starbucks. Everyone in line looked wet-eyed and anxious. Spending all night in a hospital didn't seem like a happy occasion for anyone.

A Motown hit came on. And when Martha and the Vandellas sang that summer's here and the time is right, all us strangers joined in to sing a line to make us smile: "They're dancin' in Chicaaago ..."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Smithsonian In Talks Over London Outpost — Its First Overseas

If negotiations are successful, the Smithsonian would join other attractions at the site of London's Olympic Park.
NPR

Watch 'Bob's Burgers'? Now You Can Eat Them, Too

What happens when you try to make a burger out of a pun? One blog, two years, and dozens of recipes later, millions of fans can now cook up their very own Bob's burgers.
NPR

White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break

All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class.
NPR

Yahoo Plans To Spin Off Remaining Stake In Alibaba

Yahoo has announced it will spin off its 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Shareholders had been waiting for that decision. The move needs regulatory approval.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.