Professor Chris Wiseman conducted an experiment in Britain to find the world’s most popular joke, although he asked people all over the world to contribute jokes as well, in order to judge them. At the conclusion of the experiment, the scientists had evaluated over 40,000 jokes and counted nearly 2 million votes. There are national and regional differences in humour, as well as variations between the sexes. Men, for example, preferred more aggressive jokes, while women preferred word play.
The following joke came second: Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went camping and pitched their tent in a field. In the middle of the night, Dr Watson was suddenly woken by Sherlock, who said to him: “Watson, look up and tell me what you can see.” Watson replied: “I can see millions and millions of stars.” Sherlock then asked: “So, Watson, what do you deduce from that?” “Well,” said Watson, “It means that if even only a few of those stars has planets, there may be life out there.” “No, you fool,” answered Holmes, “it means somebody has stolen our tent!”
The History Channel eventually put on a special show, watched by millions, where Wiseman said he had found the funniest jokes in the world, but that the performance of the jokes is more important than the jokes themselves. Many of them were about lawyers, hunters and doctors, but the most popular jokes were about the relationship between men and women. "Many of the jokes received higher ratings from certain groups of people, but some had real universal appeal," said Wiseman, who has published a book based on the experiment.
Wiseman said the research revealed that different countries preferred different types of jokes. The British and Australians favour jokes involving wordplay, while continental Europeans like surreal jokes. Americans and Canadians prefer jokes that make somebody look stupid.
1. Write a summary of the text in English, including the most important points, using your own words whenever possible.
It talks about a competition for the most popular joke in the world. One of the favourite ones was about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Some jokes are popular everywhere, but different people prefer different types of jokes, for example men and women, and people from places such as Britain, Europe and America.
2. Find words or phrases in the text that correspond in meaning to the words and definitions given here.
- a) A thing that scientists do to find out whether something is true or not: experiment
- b) Differences: variations
- c) A temporary structure where you can sleep outside: tent
- d) All over the world. (adjective): universal
3. Complete the second sentence of each pair so that it has the same meaning as the first one.
- a) Wiseman said he had found the funniest jokes in the world.
- “I have found the funniest jokes in the world,” said Wiseman.
- b) The most popular jokes were about the relationship between men and women.
- People enjoyed (most) (the) jokes about the relationship between men and women. (most) (more than any other(s).
- c) Americans and Canadians prefer jokes that make somebody look stupid.
- The Americans’ and Canadians’ favourite jokes are about making somebody look stupid.
- d) Chris Wiseman conducted an experiment to find the world’s most popular joke
4. Answer the following questions in your own words.
- a) Do different people prefer different kinds of jokes? Refer to the text and to your own experience.
- Yes, different people like different jokes. Different nationalities like British and Australian people like jokes that play with words. In Spain there are a lot of jokes about people from Cataluña, Andalucía and Galicia. I don’t understand some of the jokes that boys tell me, which are usually about girls or the toilets. They do not make me laugh and I prefer the ones they tell in television programmes like “El Club del Chiste”, which are clever and the performance of the jokes is very good.
- b) How do you know that Chris Wiseman’s experiment was popular?
5. What things in your life make you happy? (Approximately 120 words)
I am very happy when I can travel with my friends and family. I like going to beautiful cities, visiting the monuments and looking at the views in the country. I like listening to the latest music on the radio or my iPod, and watching music videos. If there is a concert I always go, such as the concerts in María Pita Square in A Coruña, even if it is classical music. I also like to go shopping, especially for clothes, in department stores with my mum. But these things only make me happy for a moment. In order to be a happy person you need to have a happy family like mine, who will support you when you have problems.