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Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why? In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why? In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with “getting” a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what’s funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha! reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people. Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha! lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.


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Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why? In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why? In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with “getting” a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what’s funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha! reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people. Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha! lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.

30 review for Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brigid Keely

    "Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why," by Scott Weems, is a look at the reasons humans (and rats) have a sense of humor and laugh at things. What causes the laughter? Why do we do it? What are the benefits? Sadly, it's pretty slow paced, Weems doesn't seem to have a handle on the specifics of why certain jokes are considered funny, and in the parts that I read has chosen to focus only on male comedians... all of whom have made their careers denigrating women & other minorities. Two examples "Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why," by Scott Weems, is a look at the reasons humans (and rats) have a sense of humor and laugh at things. What causes the laughter? Why do we do it? What are the benefits? Sadly, it's pretty slow paced, Weems doesn't seem to have a handle on the specifics of why certain jokes are considered funny, and in the parts that I read has chosen to focus only on male comedians... all of whom have made their careers denigrating women & other minorities. Two examples of jokes he included in the book include: 1) a cartoon showing a smiling man raking leaves while a "buxom woman" is tied to a tree. According to the text, people who don't find this funny are overly anxious, possibly schizophrenic, and afraid of being bound. To me, this sort of "joke" isn't funny because firstly it doesn't make sense. Why is the woman tied up? I mean, other than the idea that women should be passive (and silent) and deserve being bound? Why is the woman tied up while the man does yard work? How does she feel about being tied up? It reminded me of all the other "jokes" (including the peace on earth/silent night christmas cards including bound and gagged women) that emphasize that women should be silent and passive, that their voices are unwanted, that their agency is not desirable. 2) a "young, pretty" woman answers the door to find "a patient" of "her doctor husband" who hoarsely asks her if the doctor's home. She says no, then invites him in. The unstated punchline is that she wants to fuck the guy, but it ONLY works as a "joke" if you accept the idea that women are unfaithful sluts who fuck strangers/have constant affairs behind their (successful, hard working) husbands' backs. If you don't accept that as a baseline, you have a woman inviting a sick person into her home... to wait for his doctor to return to treat his illness. Other jokes in the book include how stupid fat women are and how husbands/fathers hate their wives/children and would rather they be dead than have to listen to them. Weems mentions a series of stand up comedians, all male, all of whom base part or all of their career on how awful women are and how much they hate them. Oh, how hilarious! How very edgy! They just say what everyone is thinking, in a socially acceptable and violent way! Wouldn't it be great if you could just punch sluts right in the face? Dang, black people don't tip, what's up with THAT???? Lol having sex with a fat woman is just like bestiality! How many times can I say fag while claiming to not be homophobic but threatening to hurt/kill "fags"? Weems doesn't touch at all, at least in the parts I read, on how much of comedy and jokes is in-group bonding, emphasizing what the group has in common (hatred of women, hatred of black people/Jews, hatred of gay people, etc). Based on the comedians, and the jokes, he selects for display it's really clear what in-group he's part of and what he considers acceptable. The writing is also just... not very tight. Mary Roach, to give one example, is a much better pop sci author. Her writing is bright and fast paced and personal, but backed by facts and science. Weems' writing is... not so much, especially when he jams in personal anecdotes. I saw this book mentioned on "Star Talk" and was interested in it. Unfortunately it doesn't live up to what it could have been and I got tired of being shown just how little the author cares for women. If you asked him I'm sure he'd say he's not misogynist and point to his mom, wife, female friends, etc as proof. But I wonder how many women he works with, how many younger women he's mentored, and why he thinks so. many. jokes. about how shitty women are were acceptable in this book or why it was acceptable to only mention male comedians. Mention of Tig Notaro would have been great. Margaret Cho. Wanda Sykes. Gilda Radner. Kristen Schaal. Joan Rivers. The world, including the world of comedy, does not start and end with dudes standing around and reinforcing the status quo.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel Lee

    I am a tremendous reader of pop-science books, and I flatter myself that I can usually spot the differences between the ones that take the science seriously (Ramachandran, Sacks, and even Mary Roach, for all her winking and nudging) and the others (*coughcoughGladwellcough*) that take a couple of possibly interesting points and then inflate them until they flail and flop like those dancing wind-sock puppets outside of car dealerships. Ha!, I'm happy to report, is solidly in the former camp. Rela I am a tremendous reader of pop-science books, and I flatter myself that I can usually spot the differences between the ones that take the science seriously (Ramachandran, Sacks, and even Mary Roach, for all her winking and nudging) and the others (*coughcoughGladwellcough*) that take a couple of possibly interesting points and then inflate them until they flail and flop like those dancing wind-sock puppets outside of car dealerships. Ha!, I'm happy to report, is solidly in the former camp. Relatively light, almost no math or complicated terminology, and entertainingly written, it makes a nice overview of the quirks of the human laughter response. It hit all the points I expected (I read a *lot* of pop-neurology, so most of this is familiar ground for me) and made a couple of connections and conjectures that were new to me but seemed at least plausible (with the caveat, of course, that IANAN: I Am Not a Neurosurgeon). I recommend this book if you're interested in the topic (or think you might be). It might even be worth a purchase for entertainment/learning value. (I reread Mary Roach's books every few years, for instance.) Unfortunately, books that are good tend to lead to short reviews. Take it as a compliment, if you're out there, Mr. Weems.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I expected more evidence-based research and less social commentary and stories and jokes. I didn't need the jokes. I expected more evidence-based research and less social commentary and stories and jokes. I didn't need the jokes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark York

    This book summarized a lot of psychology on humor and why we laugh. It also discussed the history of humor in our society and standup comedy. I felt that it was a collection of facts and anecdotes that lacked a clearly-developed thesis or takeaway message. Still, it was worth the read, especially if you want to understand humor.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Art

    This book synthesizes current scientific research on humor, which continues to emerge, according to the author, a cognitive neuroscientist. By age ten, humor correlates with IQ. Keeping a funny outlook is the best way to stay cognitively sharp. Fun conclusions throughout the book: Common sense walks, humor dances. … A humorous attitude signifies an engaged mind. … People who are quick to laugh are quick to forget stressful experiences. … Because the human brain can hold two or more opposing ideas This book synthesizes current scientific research on humor, which continues to emerge, according to the author, a cognitive neuroscientist. By age ten, humor correlates with IQ. Keeping a funny outlook is the best way to stay cognitively sharp. Fun conclusions throughout the book: Common sense walks, humor dances. … A humorous attitude signifies an engaged mind. … People who are quick to laugh are quick to forget stressful experiences. … Because the human brain can hold two or more opposing ideas at the same, it often resolves the apparent conflicts with humor, which recognizes the incongruities. … Humor is a psychological coping mechanism for a life full of absurdities and ambiguities. … Among the many strands of study in this field, one found that liberals adapt easily to complexities and contradictions, while another suggested that the more people dislike nonsense, the more conservative their views. A well-known story of humor therapy, retold here: In 1964, Norman Cousins received a tough diagnosis. Rather than going down the institutional hospital path to recovery, he checked into a hotel that cost a third of what the hospital charged. Cousins controlled his own medical destiny, in part, by watching funny movies and laughing himself to health. Dopamine and endorphins came to the rescue. Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit, which followed this: Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Now, fifty years later, many hospitals include humor therapy as part of the recovery. Laughter deceases stiffness and reduces blood flow. Funny humor can reduce pain with fewer drugs or smaller doses. A fun book, but not a funny one, per se, although jokes serve as examples of humor in all flavors. This book studies humor more than laughter, despite the subtitle. The Library of Congress catalogued this book under humor, therapeutic. Twenty pages of friendly notes. A solid four stars. NPR Books struck my funny bone when the author interview aired in March: http://www.npr.org/books/titles/28725... … which led to this NYTimes blog: http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/... My sister and I come from a fun family. Dad was the silly jokester and funny party guy, my mother the eternal optimist. When my sister began her practice as a social worker, she wanted to become a humor therapist. We all took an interest in her work with the humor-impaired. As it turned, not everyone wants to laugh or see the bright side at difficult moments in their lives. She started adding other techniques. I, however, was the class clown, By the time theater class came along in my large high school, I excelled at comedy — improv, in particular. Maybe I should have stuck with that. Oh, well. This book reinforces the value of a funny and positive attitude toward life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Don

    Perhaps the author wrote about a boring subject in an interesting way. Or perhaps the author wrote about an interesting subject in a boring way. Whatever the case, I found the book mostly boring.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arensb

    For starters, note that this is not a funny book, it's a book about what's funny; if you want to laugh, try the humor section at the library. And it won't make you a funnier comedian, except maybe a little bit by accident; if that's what you want, find a workshop at a comedy club. This isn't what Weems is trying to do: rather, as the subtitle says, this is a science book, about this strange thing called humor: what is it? Why do humans find it enjoyable? How did it arise in the first place? These For starters, note that this is not a funny book, it's a book about what's funny; if you want to laugh, try the humor section at the library. And it won't make you a funnier comedian, except maybe a little bit by accident; if that's what you want, find a workshop at a comedy club. This isn't what Weems is trying to do: rather, as the subtitle says, this is a science book, about this strange thing called humor: what is it? Why do humans find it enjoyable? How did it arise in the first place? These are deep questions about a complex topic, and Weems gives us an idea of the scope of the problem: "humor" encompasses everything from slapstick and knock-knock jokes, to Jon Stewart's political commentary and Lenny Bruce's rambling monologues. Crucially, Weems asks us to distinguish between laughter, a noise we make with our mouths, and mirth, the mental state of being amused by something funny. The two are related, but distinct. And unfortunately, researchers have devoted a lot more attention to laughter than to mirth, because it's infinitely easier to measure. The book gives some insight as to what goes on in the brain when we get a joke: it involves parts of the brain that are involved in conflict resolution; not surprising, since humor usually involves misdirection and having to make sense of absurd premises. It also involves some of the same areas stimulated by heroin; again, not surprising, since mirth gives us pleasure. It points out that "sense of humor" is not a single thing, but a collection of things: the ability to recognize that something is funny is not the same as recognizing why it is funny, is not the same as being able to come up with something funny. Unfortunately, the book is also a bit scattershot and disorganized. At times, Weems seems to forget the distinction he drew between laughter and mirth, and treats the two as equivalent. And the book strays into areas that seem only tangentially related to the core subject, such as the health benefits of laughter (or is it mirth?). Some of the research he cites seems rather tentative (e.g., experiments that were performed on a small number of subjects, and not replicated). But more disappointingly, to me, the book feels disjointed: there doesn't seem to be much attempt to bring the different aspects of humor together into a single overarching theory, or at least an attempt to figure out what such a theory would look like. Weems presents us neurological research, and psychological research, and sociological research, but it's not clear to me how these different lines of inquiry help each other. Some day, I'd like to find a pop-science book that explains humor, and if it can't do that, at least gives a good overview of where things stand. While Weems has made a game attempt at this, I'm afraid it falls short of the mark.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Lambert-Maberly

    Very enjoyable read, and (despite the title, which makes it clear) slightly more scientific than I was expecting. I quibble with some of the author's phrasing, I think, more than his conclusions/insights (an example: there's a picture of a cat beside a litter box, and his owner says "Never, ever, think outside the box." ... according to Weems, we're not supposed to laugh because a dumb owner is talking to a cat who can't understand, we're supposed to laugh because the man's warning the cat again Very enjoyable read, and (despite the title, which makes it clear) slightly more scientific than I was expecting. I quibble with some of the author's phrasing, I think, more than his conclusions/insights (an example: there's a picture of a cat beside a litter box, and his owner says "Never, ever, think outside the box." ... according to Weems, we're not supposed to laugh because a dumb owner is talking to a cat who can't understand, we're supposed to laugh because the man's warning the cat against being inappropriately creative. No, we're supposed to laugh because in this case "thinking outside of the box" literally means the cat would do its business in the wrong place. This happens a few times, and it's derailing). (Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alana Gale

    While there were some insights in this book that were interesting, it was more Freudian than I thought it would be, and I wasn't sure if I totally bought all of it. Additionally, after reading so many Malcolm Gladwell-esque books, I felt like the storytelling here fell flat in comparison. There definitely could've been more compelling ways for him to get his point across (but I'm not necessarily saying humor, since I know he prefaces the book with the explanation that books about humor aren't al While there were some insights in this book that were interesting, it was more Freudian than I thought it would be, and I wasn't sure if I totally bought all of it. Additionally, after reading so many Malcolm Gladwell-esque books, I felt like the storytelling here fell flat in comparison. There definitely could've been more compelling ways for him to get his point across (but I'm not necessarily saying humor, since I know he prefaces the book with the explanation that books about humor aren't always funny themselves). In any case, I do like the idea that smarter people are funnier. Have I mentioned I'm hilarious? Kidding. Anyway, hopefully there appears another book about humor that is more gripping.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tim Oldakowski

    I can't say enough good things about this book. While I don't study neuroscience...or any science for that matter...I found this book accessible in explaining, well, "when we laugh and why." I cannot wait to teach this in my Critical Reading class next spring. This is not a how-to book. You won't become funnier from reading it, nor will you be prepared to do stand up...but you will come away with an understanding of the importance and value of humor. Many times in my life I've been told that I'm I can't say enough good things about this book. While I don't study neuroscience...or any science for that matter...I found this book accessible in explaining, well, "when we laugh and why." I cannot wait to teach this in my Critical Reading class next spring. This is not a how-to book. You won't become funnier from reading it, nor will you be prepared to do stand up...but you will come away with an understanding of the importance and value of humor. Many times in my life I've been told that I'm not as funny as I think I am, or that I need to be more serious. And for the first time in my life I have scientific support to show that this is not the case. A terrific, terrific book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sergio GRANDE

    Despite the name “Ha! – The Science of Why We Laugh and Why”, half of this book deals with the subject of humour which is not necessarily the only causal of laughter, as the author tells us. Be warned, it’s a good read but it’s brimming with scientific research and a few circular arguments. But in short, we laugh mainly as a result of a self-administered rush of dopamine, which is also generated while we laugh. Confused? Read the book. And remember that laughing is healthy. Scientifically proven.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mister Mank

    Having read Robert Provine's LAUGHTER and Peter McGraw and Joel Warner's THE HUMOR CODE, I conclude that Scott Weems's HA! is the best of the three. Content-wise, there's a lot of overlap between them, but Weems is more direct in his methods, with little allegiance to any one theory of humor. It's the best-written, and, better still, there's little to no attempt at humor in the writing. (Leave that to the comedians!) Having read Robert Provine's LAUGHTER and Peter McGraw and Joel Warner's THE HUMOR CODE, I conclude that Scott Weems's HA! is the best of the three. Content-wise, there's a lot of overlap between them, but Weems is more direct in his methods, with little allegiance to any one theory of humor. It's the best-written, and, better still, there's little to no attempt at humor in the writing. (Leave that to the comedians!)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    A priest a rabbi and a monk walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this? A joke?" This book was a pleasure. I really enjoyed learning about humor and the jokes sprinkled throughout the narrative. It had weak moments for me, particularly discussing gender differences, but picks up again towards the end. The book covers a lot of inconclusive research on humor and its effects. It's most strong when discussing the anatomy of a joke. A priest a rabbi and a monk walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this? A joke?" This book was a pleasure. I really enjoyed learning about humor and the jokes sprinkled throughout the narrative. It had weak moments for me, particularly discussing gender differences, but picks up again towards the end. The book covers a lot of inconclusive research on humor and its effects. It's most strong when discussing the anatomy of a joke.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Bouren

    Ultimately the book was a snoozefest. I listened to the audiobook, which employed a dude with what sounded like a computer-generated voice to perform it, so that certainly didn't help. I was hoping for a Mary Roach or Bill Bryson like look at the topic, but Weems comes nowhere close that level. He also inserts weird personal commentary/opinions a few times in the book, which were not at all welcome. Ultimately the book was a snoozefest. I listened to the audiobook, which employed a dude with what sounded like a computer-generated voice to perform it, so that certainly didn't help. I was hoping for a Mary Roach or Bill Bryson like look at the topic, but Weems comes nowhere close that level. He also inserts weird personal commentary/opinions a few times in the book, which were not at all welcome.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nilendu Misra

    One of those hidden gems. Purchased this book many years ago from a used book sale. Today, just happened to start browsing it. Extremely well written - lucid, good metaphors and not overly fluffy for such a pop-science books. Especially the description of brain activities to resolve ambiguity, generate insights and reward with dopamine are likely the best in this very competitive, and crowded, sub-space. Laughter was very well dissected and yet did not die like a frog would.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Fun book, with lots of laughs, as you might expect. However , the real purpose was analysis of humor. For instance, what is it that makes us laugh and what does laughing do for us. One note, “”it is hard to be in a bad mood when you are laughing. “ Also humorous presentations help people learn better. Another plus, I just liked the way he presented , as if in a conversation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Great read. Gives you a different perspective on the many forms of humor and how it is delivered. Loved the first and second chapter discussing mostly the neuroscience behide the mechanisms of laugher because thats really my peak interest. But, the rest of the book really is less in depth with "dopamine" and more intriguing with evidence based laughter/humor studies conducted and their results. Great read. Gives you a different perspective on the many forms of humor and how it is delivered. Loved the first and second chapter discussing mostly the neuroscience behide the mechanisms of laugher because thats really my peak interest. But, the rest of the book really is less in depth with "dopamine" and more intriguing with evidence based laughter/humor studies conducted and their results.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Overall the science behind this was pretty good, but I found the focus on stand-up comedy to be too heavy. I was looking for a more well-rounded explanation of all the situations in life in which humans find things funny, and the tropes of stand-up are only a small snippet of that. Anyone know a book that has what I'm looking for? Overall the science behind this was pretty good, but I found the focus on stand-up comedy to be too heavy. I was looking for a more well-rounded explanation of all the situations in life in which humans find things funny, and the tropes of stand-up are only a small snippet of that. Anyone know a book that has what I'm looking for?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Duchess_Nimue

    I did not connect with the author. At all. The sentences that perfectly describes the book for me is: My wife cries a lot. Or a normal amount for a woman her age. What is that supposed to me? That's not funny. I did not connect with the author. At all. The sentences that perfectly describes the book for me is: My wife cries a lot. Or a normal amount for a woman her age. What is that supposed to me? That's not funny.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    3.5. Great research and structure to the book. I don’t always agree with the conclusions from the studies, but it’s a great affirmation in why we should continue to find humor in life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Range

    learned some mechanism of our brain

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stanley Trice

    At the conclusion of the book, the author Scott Weems takes a humorous jab at himself by quoting Avner Ziv, “It is more enjoyable to read a humorous book than to read one explaining humor.” This is not a book on how to be humorous or funny. This is strictly a scientific view of laughter, jokes, and why people laugh. Very technical in spots, Scott attempts to explain humor through previous studies, diagnosis, and experimentation. Whenever the book started to stray into being a funny book with joke At the conclusion of the book, the author Scott Weems takes a humorous jab at himself by quoting Avner Ziv, “It is more enjoyable to read a humorous book than to read one explaining humor.” This is not a book on how to be humorous or funny. This is strictly a scientific view of laughter, jokes, and why people laugh. Very technical in spots, Scott attempts to explain humor through previous studies, diagnosis, and experimentation. Whenever the book started to stray into being a funny book with jokes and entertaining, he made a quick correction with technical jargon. This is a learning book, but I am not convinced humor can be so easily analyzed and explained. Still, there were some things I learned about humor which were informative, probably not useful. In the end, I disagree with the joke that won the 3 WD Humor Test. Too violent for my tastes which I am sure allows Mr. Weems to now categorize me. Lastly, I applaud his attempt at being a comic. Few people could attempt such embarrassment. In the end, I do agree that laughing is the best medicine (sometimes a cliché is the best explanation).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    ** The serious need for humor ** Humor is a funny thing. What makes something funny...or not? What is the purpose of humor anyway? And, how can it improve our health and overall life attitude? These are three basic questions that cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems explores in his book. As he explains: “_Ha!_ is about an idea. The idea is that humor and its most common symptom—laughter—are the by-products of possessing brains which rely on conflict. Because they constantly deal with confusion o ** The serious need for humor ** Humor is a funny thing. What makes something funny...or not? What is the purpose of humor anyway? And, how can it improve our health and overall life attitude? These are three basic questions that cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems explores in his book. As he explains: “_Ha!_ is about an idea. The idea is that humor and its most common symptom—laughter—are the by-products of possessing brains which rely on conflict. Because they constantly deal with confusion or ambiguity, our minds jump the gun, make mistakes, and generally get muddled in their own complexity. But this isn’t so bad. On the contrary, it provides us adaptability and a constant reason to laugh.” (p. xiv) Although the delivery of the book sometimes gets a bit messy, the punch line is a satisfying one: humor helps us to make sense out of our complex world by providing emotionally satisfying ways to turn conflicts into pleasure. After all, what’s the point of life’s absurdities if we can’t laugh at them!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Humor is hard to explain because you eventually have to explain how we understand anything in the world then separate out why some of that is funny. I'm reading it at the same time as The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny just because they came in at the library at the same time. Each book seems to mention similar things but each expounds more on certain topics. The best part of this book is the first 100 pages. After that I feel the author is just filling pages or overreac Humor is hard to explain because you eventually have to explain how we understand anything in the world then separate out why some of that is funny. I'm reading it at the same time as The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny just because they came in at the library at the same time. Each book seems to mention similar things but each expounds more on certain topics. The best part of this book is the first 100 pages. After that I feel the author is just filling pages or overreaching(the health chapter seems about as deep as a yahoo news article). The computer science chapter is the exception but that could be an entire book on it's own. Still it's one of the only recent scientific based books on humor I've seen so I'm grateful to have something like it out there. Sidenote: Out of all the joke examples, the best one was from an episode of The Simpsons, from the classic seasons of course.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mert Selcuk

    Ha! is a book that doesn't teach you a formula to be funny, but rather the basic concepts that lie underneath how humour works. The final chapters where the author started talking about the usage of humour in our professional lives, was the most interesting section for me. As an undergraduate student who is slowly getting into multiple job interviews, taking away some professional tactics of how to use humour in these type of situations were invaluable! Also as a reader who enjoys reading about Ha! is a book that doesn't teach you a formula to be funny, but rather the basic concepts that lie underneath how humour works. The final chapters where the author started talking about the usage of humour in our professional lives, was the most interesting section for me. As an undergraduate student who is slowly getting into multiple job interviews, taking away some professional tactics of how to use humour in these type of situations were invaluable! Also as a reader who enjoys reading about scientific case studies, this book was a great choice for two reason: 1) there were scientific studies in it and 2) the studies were explained with the same overall tone of the book, thus making them a fluent part of the narration rather than making the reader feel like he/she is reading a official lab report or some sort.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dclevinson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. According to a study conducted by Thomas Ford of Western Carolina University: "Ford gave groups of adult males assessments of existing sexist beliefs...From these assessments, each subject was classified as possessing either low or high hostile sexism...Ford found that, compared to low-sexist subjects, high-sexist subjects were willing to commit much less money to the National Council of Women--but only after reading the sexist jokes. The nonsexist jokes , as well as the nonhumorous sexist stori According to a study conducted by Thomas Ford of Western Carolina University: "Ford gave groups of adult males assessments of existing sexist beliefs...From these assessments, each subject was classified as possessing either low or high hostile sexism...Ford found that, compared to low-sexist subjects, high-sexist subjects were willing to commit much less money to the National Council of Women--but only after reading the sexist jokes. The nonsexist jokes , as well as the nonhumorous sexist stories, had no impact on their donations...High-sexist subjects advocated the most drastic cuts, but only after reading the sexist jokes."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Ha! has a nice balance of interesting information, cheeky jokes, and references to have an easy flow to it while still being informative. Read this in three sessions, so it is a fast read. It isn't always compelling, but it certainly is interesting, and I took down a few quotes that sparked my curiosity. Good information to store in your pocket, and a good beginning guide to anyone interested in learning about humor. Some reviews were disappointed because they were expecting a "how to" book. Thi Ha! has a nice balance of interesting information, cheeky jokes, and references to have an easy flow to it while still being informative. Read this in three sessions, so it is a fast read. It isn't always compelling, but it certainly is interesting, and I took down a few quotes that sparked my curiosity. Good information to store in your pocket, and a good beginning guide to anyone interested in learning about humor. Some reviews were disappointed because they were expecting a "how to" book. This book will not teach you to be funny. It only teaches you information about research that's been done on humor. Would recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    McKenna Rice

    I had a really hard time getting through this book. Although I appreciate the subject of this book and generally enjoy psychological or sociological non-fiction, for some reason this book was not compelling to me. I found the writing a bit dry and a bit repetitive--kind of like the research papers I write for school, to be honest. I would have appreciated more stories and studies and less analysis, especially when the analysis was the same thing over and over again--conflict resolution and surp I had a really hard time getting through this book. Although I appreciate the subject of this book and generally enjoy psychological or sociological non-fiction, for some reason this book was not compelling to me. I found the writing a bit dry and a bit repetitive--kind of like the research papers I write for school, to be honest. I would have appreciated more stories and studies and less analysis, especially when the analysis was the same thing over and over again--conflict resolution and surprise lead to humor. Overall, the message was good, but the delivery was a little bit boring.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Stasikova

    Ever catch yourself laughing at something that shouldn't be funny while watching the Colbert Report and wondered why? Or laughed uncontrollably at a friends wildly inappropriate joke? This book explains all of this and more. Overall this is a fun and informative read that can easily be read in an afternoon or evening. The author takes several contemporary examples of humor to which the reader can easily connect and uses them as case studies to explain why we find a variety of things funny. Ever catch yourself laughing at something that shouldn't be funny while watching the Colbert Report and wondered why? Or laughed uncontrollably at a friends wildly inappropriate joke? This book explains all of this and more. Overall this is a fun and informative read that can easily be read in an afternoon or evening. The author takes several contemporary examples of humor to which the reader can easily connect and uses them as case studies to explain why we find a variety of things funny.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robin Gane-McCalla

    While this book isn't funny, and is a bit disorganized I found it to be a great read. It's more of a textbook than an instruction manual for being funny. The book is divided into three parts: "What?", "What for?" and "So What". It combines science with specific jokes and funny incidents to explain why certain things are funny. There are lots of interesting factoids throughout the book. A concise explanation of much of humor yet it still raises interesting questions. While this book isn't funny, and is a bit disorganized I found it to be a great read. It's more of a textbook than an instruction manual for being funny. The book is divided into three parts: "What?", "What for?" and "So What". It combines science with specific jokes and funny incidents to explain why certain things are funny. There are lots of interesting factoids throughout the book. A concise explanation of much of humor yet it still raises interesting questions.

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