I keep finding more jokes. I've included one that brings a number of jokes together into a light-hearted narrative. I do that because I pursued the question of the funniest joke and found the answer. There are many headlines claiming the top 10, or top 20, or top 50 funniest jokes. How do I know they are?
I track down the answer - there is a person who has investigated the funniest joke. The Wikipedia entry for the World's funniest joke identifies university researcher, Richard Wiseman's experiment to find the funniest joke. His website LaughLab was created for people to rate and submit jokes and it now showcases his research, books, tv appearances, etc.
"It is very rare to be able to track down the origin of any joke but this is an exception," said Prof Wiseman. "There is some very rare footage from 1951 showing the Goons in their first TV appearance. Just by chance I saw it on a documentary and saw a version of the very same joke."
The material would have been written by Spike Milligan and the script reads:
Michael Bentine: I just came in and found him lying on the carpet there.
Peter Sellers: Oh, is he dead?
Bentine: I think so.
Sellers: Hadn't you better make sure?
Bentine: All right. Just a minute.
Sound of two gun shots.
Bentine: He's dead.
Prof Wiseman contacted Milligan's daughter, Sile, and she is as certain as she can be that he would have written the gag. She said she was "delighted that dad wrote the world's funniest joke".
Prof Wiseman said: "I think what is interesting here is that a joke from the 1950s still works, and how it has transformed over time from a cosy sitting room to hunters in New Jersey."
He added: "Spike Milligan was clearly into surreal humour. The sort of people who like his stuff will be people with a high tolerance for ambiguity because the sketches don't really have a sense of closure."
The winning joke is:
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says, "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"
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