Two million people from 70 countries voted on 40,000 jokes in a 2002 study by Dr Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire and the British Association for the Advancement of Science to find out the funniest joke in the world. Here is the winner:

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes have rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a soothing voice, says: “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?”

Funniest joke in the worldDo you find that funny? I didn’t, and I still made myself laugh anyway for good measure. This may seem like an odd behavior, but then the alternative was to frown and I don’t like that. Laughing feel better. To me it doesn’t have to make sense. As it happens (and although redeemed) I am not the only one devoid of that particular sense of humor. The LaughLab team analysed data from the 10 countries that contributed most jokes and listed them in the order of how funny they found them. Germany came top. That was not because Teutonic wit was better but because it was indiscriminate, Dr Wiseman said. Germans found all jokes moderately funny, unlike other nations, where humor could be divided into three broad types (gags that make you feel superior to others, reduce the emotional impact of difficult situations, or surprise you with incongruity.) People from Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand preferred jokes involving word play:

Patient: “Doctor, I’ve got a strawberry stuck up my bum.” Doctor: “I’ve got some cream for that.”

I entered 10 puns in a pun contest hoping one would win, but no pun in ten did.

A Roman legionnaire walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says, “Five beers, please.”

Americans and Canadians liked gags in which there was a sense of superiority, either because a person looked stupid or was made to look stupid:

Texan: “Where are you from?” Harvard graduate: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.” Texan: “Ok, where are you from, jackass?”

Women only call me ugly until they find out how much money I make. Then they call me ugly and poor.

You’re not completely useless. You can always serve as a bad example.

Many European countries, such as France, Denmark and Belgium, enjoyed jokes that were surreal, like Dr Wiseman’s favourite:

An alsatian went to a telegram office and wrote: “Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.” The clerk examined the paper and told the dog: “There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.” “But,” the dog replied, “that would make no sense at all.”

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