Wednesday 18 July 2018

There is a clever reason why Christmas cracker jokes are bad

Novelty Christmas crackers are a key part of Christmas festivities
Novelty Christmas crackers are a key part of Christmas festivities
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Ever wondered why most Christmas cracker jokes are bad?

As the Christmas cracker joke teller, the most you’ll ever inspire is either a titter or a groan.

Well, it turns out Christmas cracker jokes are deliberately designed to be bad.

Professor Richard Wiseman, author of “LaughLab, the scientific quest for the world’s funniest joke”, says cracker jokes are more about bonding people together than making people laugh.

“Christmas time is quite a stressful time for all sorts of reasons. So I think it’s important that people laugh. People seem to think it’s a happy time but when you look at the statistics, present buying can be stressful, and maybe you’re getting together with your friends who you may have lost touch with and might not be so close to.”

“These are all what psychologists call micro hassles. They’re often not the really big things that worry us but they all add up.”

“With cracker jokes, most jokes are so poor that when you get a groan you can blame the joke and not the person telling the joke. So the people around you will say ‘my goodness, what a terrible joke’, but that’s the whole point.”

He added: “Bad jokes are actually surprisingly good at bonding people together. Having a terrible joke and having people say, ‘who writes this rubbish?’... it actually does a good job at bonding people together.”

Laughter can be the best medicine during some difficult times, Professor Wiseman says, and Christmas can be a difficult time for many.

“Humour is about improving your mood. When you’re in a good mood you’re more fun to be around, and the quickest way to do that (improve your mood) is by watching something funny, or telling a joke. If you’re in a good mood, you’re an expansive thinker. Humour matters.”

“The best thing to do is to spend time with others, that’s a good thing: give to charity, help the homeless, everything that connects you with other people. Particularly if you’re helping people, it actually can create a fun situation.”

And for those who love a good joke, and want to tell a gaff of their own at the Christmas table this year, Professor Wiseman has unearthed a trick.

“Anything with the letter ‘K’ or the sound that ‘K’ makes is a good comedy word. We call it the 'comedy K'. Anything with a 'k' is normally quite funny. In the Simpsons, for example you have Krusty the Clown.”

True enough, Eir recently asked Irish people what their favourite joke was for its "Bring Great Together" campaign. It was found to be:

Q: What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?

A: A Christmas quacker!

So take note, when you’ve done the cracker tug-of-war at the dining room table, donned your party hat, and attempt to tell a joke of your own. Think of the quack you'll have.

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