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The boss IS funnier.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - 11:23 PM

When we were working on the Laughter episode, we ran across an interesting study about the relationship between laughter and power. Tyler Stillman, a psychologist at Florida State University, did a series of studies showing that laughter isn’t always about how funny something is. He found that when a boss tells a bad joke to an employee, the employee laughs.
But when the employee tells a bad joke to a boss, well, you can hear pin drop. In the pursuit of truth and the spirit of inquiry, we took Stillman’s bad joke (about two muffins in an oven) and tried his experiment ourselves -- a 'peer-review' of sorts for his study -- right here in the WNYC offices. Check it out.

And, just a reminder, if you can get to NYC on Thursday, you should join us for the premiere of Season 4 we'll be screening the Laughter episode. FREE at the Angelika Film Center. Details.


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Comments [6]

Jason 'Great White'


That is a great point!

anti-m (is that suppose to mean anti-me?),

That is another great point!

Feb. 22 2008 04:04 PM

Hmmm... Watching this video, I wonder how much of the funniness of this joke is about the delivery.

The less-funny versions seem to suffer from less-than-confident delivery. Perhaps boss-dom conveys the confidence required to sell this joke.

This joke also got funnier with repeat tellings for me -- the absurdity of hearing this awful joke over and over in the cube-farm environment made it "meta-funny" if that makes sense.

Feb. 22 2008 02:18 PM

I agree with 'Great White' but also, it could have been one of those jokes that is just funnier when you think about how stupid it is, laugh, then tell someone else. Such as the old "wanna hear a dirty joke? a horse fell in the mud".
That joke is stupid but when told in the right situation such as being drunk or someone already warmed up and laughing it can be hysterical.
Besides it's all fun and games at work until you get told "yes, well, I think you have just been chosen for a random drug screening."

Feb. 21 2008 06:41 AM
Jason 'Great White'

Sorry to all that read post #2/my above post for it being hard to read.

Feb. 20 2008 06:44 PM
Jason 'Great White'

I think the boss that reacted, beyond just silence or a fake laugh, are just bosses I hope I never again work under. I used work under bad bosses (just BLANKS) that would sarcastic in employees reaching situations like that, let alone almost all communications. However, I have worked under a bosses that would laugh at employees bad jokes. However, there was one of those bosses, that laughted at all employees' jokes, was a push over for all employees and customers and thus made a terrible work place also.
Thus, I say we should be able to be real, with each other. A good employee would be a lot friender and a good boss would be a lot trusting of the employees if we all just real with each other. That being as a owner of my businesses, I have started from the ground up, I can see how hard it is.

Feb. 20 2008 06:42 PM

I think it's an appropriately evolved defense mechanism: a release of endorphins as an anodyne to counteract all the feelings of "I should be YOUR boss!!"

Feb. 20 2008 03:42 PM

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