Jokes make us laugh and lighten up our mood. But have you ever asked yourself this question, why do jokes make us laugh? This is exactly what I seek to answer through my research. First, we will deduce various possible theories as to why jokes are funny to us, and then we’ll test those theories on thousands of jokes.
Jokes are essentially a phenomenon created by humans and hence, this research needs human participants on whom we’ll be testing the joke theories. This technique is popularly known as crowdsourcing, that is, employing a crowd of people to come up with solutions to those problems that cannot be solved by a computer. By using the crowd to analyse various jokes, we hope to better understand the concept of humor and how it works. To this day, no one has ever really made such an approach to leverage massive datasets of human judgement to crack the question of why jokes are funny.
The interesting thing about our experiment is that studying jokes is a way to study intelligence. Our ability to "get" jokes is a fine example of the complex linguistic, social, and reasoning skills that works in each one of us. While we tend to think of jokes as some sort of a mysterious curiosity of language, in reality they’re not that complex. When looked at closely, one can find that there are in fact recurring features in jokes such as insult (lawyer jokes, blonde jokes, etc.), leaving out information, and allowing listeners to connect the dots within them. For instance, "Never taking a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night". In order to understand how jokes exactly work, we have to identify these recurring features and test them out on various kinds of jokes. Only after this will we be able to deduce the high-level linguistic features that are imperative to jokes and to human intellect.
I am raising money to pay hundreds on workers on Mechanical Turk to analyze thousands of jokes. Stay tuned!
To run this project successfully, we need money for mechanical turk experiments, web hosting, and for purchasing domain names. Also, the crowd (participants on whom we’ll be testing the jokes and theories) have to be paid. So, we need to raise money to bring this project to reality.