Aug 12

Fringe Science

Proven By Science24 comments • 831 views

[UPDATE with attributions and conclusion under ‘the fold’ as they say]

Apparently, (apparently), some people are going around saying comedy is subjective – an “art” if you will. Nonsense. Just because the rigours of science haven’t been applied to something, doesn’t mean it can be so wantonly abandoned to the chaos of the immeasurable.

So for the following poll I do NOT want to see any come back guff – “interpretation” this, “define your terms” that. ALL THE WORDS IN THE FOLLOWING POLL QUESTION ARE SELF EVIDENTLY CLEAR, UNAMBIGUOUS AND UNDERSTOOD BY ALL.


Which of the following are funny?

  • I was raised as an only child, which really annoyed my sister. 57%
  • I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting! 54%
  • Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly. 45%
  • Pornography is often frowned upon, but that's only because I'm concentrating 40%
  • You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks. 36%
  • My mum's so pessimistic, that if there was an Olympics for pessimism … she wouldn't fancy her chances. 33%
  • I'm good friends with 25 letters of the alphabet … I don't know Y. 27%
  • I waited an hour for my starter so I complained, 'It's not rocket salad' 23%
  • I took part in the sun tanning Olympics - I just got Bronze 21%
  • You know you're working class when your TV is bigger than your book case 14%
  • There are no proper supermarkets on Manhattan but that doesn't matter cos most of the inhabitants eat out all the time 6%
  • None of them! 6%

Total Voters: 84

Poll closes: 28 Aug 2012 @ 12:48

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TV Channel ‘Dave’s 10 funniest 1-liners of the Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Our scientific and stringently methodical poll shows that the real winner should have been Will Marsh. The remaining jokes in final polling order were from:

Stewart Francis (riveting), Tim Vine (back-to-back DVDs), George Ryegold (frowning porn), Stewart Francis (Posh and Becks), Nish Kumar (olympic pessimism), Chris Turner (don’t know Y), Lou Sanders (rocket salad), Tim Vine (tanning olympics), Rob Beckett (big telly).

The mystery 11th comment in our poll, as I think some commenters caught on, was our SCIENCE CONTROL – an aside observational comment from a recent e-mail I’d read. WE TOTALLY DID SCIENCE.

Based on EXACTLY the same number of people finding none of the 11 funny as finding the control funny,  our conclusion is that everything is funny, and if you don’t find any specific thing funny, take a long hard look at thee sen. Everything. Even that.


  1. 1
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 21 Aug 2012 #

    Not art or science BUT SPORT

    ps I am getting “fatal error” when I submit my votes. Doubtless true in a “get a life” kind of a way but is something coded wrong?

    and i quote:

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    Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required ‘../../../wp-config.php’ (include_path=’.:/usr/share/php:/usr/share/pear’) in /home/snowyowl/public_html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/wp-polls/wp-polls.php on line 33

  2. 2
    Tommy Mack on 21 Aug 2012 #

    Yep, I’m a fatal error too. Using firefox. Dunno if that could be the prob.

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 21 Aug 2012 #

    Nice use of exclaimation mark on the ‘None of them’ option although I think it could’ve done with a few extra on the end and all being in uppercase for people to REALLY blow our minds.

  4. 4
    admin on 21 Aug 2012 #

    :-( er. normal service will be restored shortly…


  5. 5
    admin on 21 Aug 2012 #


    (that illuminated a very fishy hacking thing going on in the WP backend)

  6. 6
    Ed on 22 Aug 2012 #

    Not challenging the question, but one of the jokes.

    Why might the one about Manhattan be funny?

  7. 7
    Alan not logged in on 23 Aug 2012 #

    It is too early for such theorising – at this early stage of gathering observation I will only report that (at this time) 4 out of 40 people responded ‘yes’ to it

  8. 8
    Tommy Mack on 23 Aug 2012 #

    Ed @ 6, I think it’s a reference to SATC/Friends-type TV shows. No, I didn’t find it very funny either.

    The one about being working class is typical of the sneery, Kevin Bridges kick-em-when-they’re-down school of comedy. Absolutely abysmal.

  9. 9
    Steve Mannion on 23 Aug 2012 #

    My guess is the working class one only made it in because its author identifies as such.

    Indeed Rob Beckett’s bio on Chortle confirms as much. “…has unashamedly working-class roots and bases his set around family and the class system.”

    If e.g. Jimmy Carr had done it it wouldn’t be on the list.

  10. 10
    The Clapton Pond Regeneration Project on 23 Aug 2012 #

    “You know who really gives kids a bad name? The late Paula Yates” is funnier

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 23 Aug 2012 #

    “There are no launderettes in Malmo but that doesn’t matter because people there who live in apartment blocks have shared washing machines in the basement.” Hilar!

  12. 12
    Matthew Balaam on 23 Aug 2012 #

    That Manhattan one: I’m hoping I’m too dense to get it, otherwise I dispair at the quality of comedy at this years fringe.

  13. 13
    Matthew Balaam on 23 Aug 2012 #

    Ah, wait a minute…

  14. 14
    Tommy Mack on 23 Aug 2012 #

    Steve @ 9: In a way that makes it worse: easier to laugh at, less offensive, but more insidious. It a depressingly post-Thatcher idea that if you’re working class it’s because you’re too thick or lazy to make any more of yourself. Hardly ‘libraries gave us power’ is it? Also, I’m pretty sure it’s ripped off Kevin Bridges’ “You know you’re working class if your telly’s bigger than your house” which at least has a dash of absurdism about it.

    Mind you, I’m wary that removing jokes from the context of the show and the comedian’s delivery can often change their meaning. As can misquoting, of which comics frequently complain. If I were a journo, I’d just say I was too busy laughing to get the quote down – flatter the buggers!

    Right, I’m off to see the inoffensive and unprejudiced Frankie Boyle…

  15. 15
    Ed on 24 Aug 2012 #

    @11 That one’s actually pretty funny.

    “Parking facilities in central London are both limited and expensive, but that doesn’t matter because most people use the pricey but reasonably reliable public transport system, including a reasonably comprehensive Night Bus service that runs after the Tube shuts down at about 12.30.”

    Perhaps that joke was written by an earlier discarded prototype for this: http://www.aclweb.org/anthology-new/P/P11/P11-2016.pdf

  16. 16
    Jack Feerick on 24 Aug 2012 #

    @6: That’s the purest form of Observational Humor, a.k.a. “It’s funny because it’s true.” When in fact the truth of an observation is no guarantee of its intrinsic humor — which is why, say, nobody opens up the CIA WORLD FACT BOOK when they’re looking for a laff riot.

    Another joke with the same format is the late George Carlin’s observation that (from memory) “Most of the people who are in favor of banning abortion are people you wouldn’t want to have sex with in the first place.” Which is funnier than the supermarket thing, but just barely.

  17. 17
    Ed on 25 Aug 2012 #

    There are a few too many boolean structural elements in that Comp Sci paper for me – although you have to love any report that includes the sentence “Let SN be an open set of sexually explicit nouns” – but the point seems to be that the computer gets it right only 71 per cent of the time when choosing to respond “That’s what she said!” to ostensibly innocuous remarks.

    The robots may have got us beaten when it comes to playing chess, making cars or exploring Mars, but for adolescent humour humanity still reigns supreme.

  18. 18
    Andrew Farrell on 26 Aug 2012 #

    I suspect science might be occurring here, but will wait until the poll has finished.

  19. 19
    Be Realistic on 26 Aug 2012 #

    The fact that people are querying the veracity of the “televisions and bookcases” quote does nothing more than draw attention to the irredeemably middle class worldview of the dissenter.

    Writing as someone from a working-class background who lived in that world until he was over 30 and most importantly has a job which takes me into many working-class homes it strikes me as only slightly untrue in that it posits an idea that working-class homes even own a bookcase of any size.

    Only someone with an idea of the working-class about as deluded as the average Guardian reader would beg to differ.

    Very few such homes will have a bookcase and this includes the upper working (what used to be known as the “respectable”)working class not just the unskilled lower and underclass.

    And “defences” of the working-class which include phrases such as “kicking them when they’re down” just reek of paternalism – like the lower classes want to have bookcases, and to not have books in their house means their lives are automatically lesser ones that require pity.

    What a bunch of bloody snobs…

  20. 20
    Be Realistic on 26 Aug 2012 #

    And re Jack Feerick at 16

    so you completely, utterly and 100% agree that it is all right to murder unborn babies? – I’m unsure as should anyone be to a question which is full of grey areas but you seem to know – how’s that?

  21. 21
    Jack Feerick on 27 Aug 2012 #

    The secret to successful issue trolling is to pick a single issue and stick with it, BR. I’m afraid that in your eagerness to score points you’ve overplayed your hand. Sad, really.

  22. 22
    Ed on 30 Aug 2012 #

    So who are the quotes from, then?

    We want answers!

  23. 23
    Alan not logged in on 3 Sep 2012 #

    hi dere – i will update this soon

  24. 24
    admin on 3 Sep 2012 #


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