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No joke, Chicago is America's funniest city

Chicago is seriously funny.

A new study by the University of Colorado at Boulder ranks Chicago as America’s funniest city, beating out laugh riots Boston and Atlanta to claim the top spot. Researchers hailed Chicagoans for their witty banter and observational humor, specifically citing the local penchant for poking fun at the brutal weather and the CTA. 

“The jokes that Chicagoans do tend to tell often feature deadpan and quick-witted humor, much of it directed at the foibles and frustrations of living in Chicago,” according to the study, which was released Sunday. 

Researchers at the university's Humor Research Lab created an algorithm to evaluate several data sets, including the number of comedy clubs in each city, the number of famous comedians born there, the number of well-known humorist who tweet from there and traveling comedians’ ratings of local audiences. They also considered how frequently residents visit comedy websites. 

They then surveyed more than 900 people living in the top 10 cities as determined by the algorithm. Researchers asked residents about the kinds of funny entertainment they enjoyed, whether they considered humor an important quality in friends and significant others and subjected them to a personality test. They also had participants describe their city’s sense of humor and recount their favorite joke.

And, despite their funny ranking, it seems Chicagoans are lousy joke tellers. 

“For a place that’s the funniest city in the country, Chicago doesn’t seem to boast a lot of jokes,” the study states. “Many Chicago residents surveyed noted that they could not think of any zingers, since they prefer to mine observational humor from the situations in which they find themselves. Such remarks seem to fit with the city’s professional comedy scene, since the city is known as a mecca for improv and stand-up.”

Other cities in the Top 10 were: Boston, Atlanta, Washington, Portland, Ore., New York, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. Indianapolis, Detroit and Milwaukee were 25th, 34th and 39th respectively.

The study was led by Peter McGraw, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.  The project grew out of McGraw’s new book, “The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny,” which he co-authored with journalist Joel Warner.

“The result was a window into the humor profiles of each of the top 10 cities,” said McGraw in a statement provided by the university. “Boston residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness while Washington, D.C., finds humor in the absurdities of political systems. Portlanders are just plain weird.” 

sstclair@tribune.com

Twitter @stacystclair

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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