You are here

Back to top

The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny (Hardcover)

The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny Cover Image
$26.00
Hard to Find

Description


Part road-trip comedy and part social science experiment, a scientist and a journalist detail their epic quest to discover the secret behind what makes things funny.

Two guys. 19 experiments. Five continents. 91,000 miles. And a book that will forever change the way you think about humor.

Part road-trip comedy and part social science experiment, a scientist and a journalist detail their epic quest to discover the secret behind what makes things funny.

Dr. Peter McGraw, founder of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, teamed up with journalist Joel Warner on a far-reaching search for the secret behind humor. Their journey spanned the globe, from New York to Japan, from Palestine to the Amazon. Meanwhile, the duo conducted their own humor experiments along the way—to wince-worthy, hilarious, and illuminating results.

In their quixotic search, they questioned countless experts, from comedians like Louis C.K. to rat-tickling researchers, and answered pressing (and not-so-pressing) questions such as, “What’s the secret to winning The New Yorker cartoon caption contest?”; “Who has the bigger funny bone—men or women, Democrats or Republicans?”; and “Is laughter really the best medicine?” As a final test, McGraw uses everything they learned to attempt stand-up—at the largest comedy festival in the world.

Funny, surprising, and often touching, The Humor Code is a revealing exploration of humor, society, and an unusual friendship.

About the Author


Peter McGraw, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder where he directs HuRL (the Humor Research Lab), is a leading expert in the interdisciplinary fields of emotion and behavioral economics. His work has been covered by NPR, Nightline, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, The New York Times and the BBC. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Joel Warner, an award-winning former staff writer for Westword, Denver’s alternative newsweekly, has written for Wired, The Boston Globe, Slate, Grantland, and other publications. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Praise For…


The Humor Code is basically an adventure story... [with] more to say about humor than a skeptic might think possible; The Humor Code is a lot [of] fun."

“Their book pulls off the neat literary trick of portraying a picaresque scientific enterprise that takes them around the world from Tanzania to Japan to Scandinavia.”

"[T]he authors, in dissecting the nature of humor, shed fascinating light on what makes us laugh and why."

"Peter McGraw, an irrepressible psychology prof, and Joel Warner, his straight-man scribe, deliver entertaining answers to nagging questions like: Do unhappy people make better comedians? Are some things too horrible to laugh at? And how do you win The New Yorker cartoon contest? … McGraw lays out a convincing theory about how humor works, and why it’s an essential survival mechanism.

“[I]n The Humor Code, psychologist Peter McGraw and journalist Joel Warner stalk the essence of comedy from New York to Tokyo, putting McGraw’s “benign violation” theory to the test. The best jokes, they find, tread on our sense of propriety and upset our expectations, but in a harmless way— no one is actually hurt, and the audience isn’t too offended… [McGraw and Warner] illuminate the inner workings of humor with a verve that befits the subject. You’ll detect the mechanisms they describe in your favorite TV shows, movies, and stand-up routines almost as soon as you’ve finished reading.”

"What makes The Humor Code work is its wide-eyed approach to the subject.... It's part buddy-comedy road trip and part deftly-woven nonfiction, and it ultimately succeeds not on its format but its ideas and inviting tone."

“If you've ever wondered why we laugh at what we do,you have to read this book about the DNA of humor. The odd-couple authors take us on a journey from the halls of science to the backstage of Los Angeles comedy clubs, and they show us why people can laugh amidst tensions in Palestine or a clown brigade in the Amazon. It's part Indiana Jones, part Tina Fey, and part Crime Scene Investigation, and it will make you smarter and happier.”
— Chip Heath, author of Decisive, Switch, and Made to Stick

“This book tickled my hippocampus. Joel Warner and Peter McGraw gave me paradigm-altering insights into humor, but also creativity, business, happiness, and, of course, flatulence.”
— A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy and The Year of Living Biblically

“Engaging, wise, and of course funny, The Humor Code is a wonderful quest to discover who and what makes us laugh. Pete McGraw and Joel Warner are the best of company, and you'll be glad you took this trip with them.”
— Susan Cain, author of Quiet

The Humor Code is so good that I wish I wrote it. In fact, I’ve already started telling people I did. Luckily, Pete McGraw and Joel Warner are givers, so they won’t mind. They’ve given us a remarkable look at what makes us laugh, with the perfect blend of science, stories, satire, and sweater vests. This book has bestseller written all over it.”
— Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take

"Peter and Joel's globe-spanning search for what makes things funny is a wonderful page-turner that entertains as much as it informs."
— Dan Ariely, author of The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty and Predictably Irrational

"The Humor Code is a fun narrative of how a serious scientific theory is born, tested, and lived."
— Ben Huh, CEO of The Cheezburger Network

"The Humor Code is a rollicking tour de farce that blends academic insights and amusing anecdotes to answer some of the most serious (and frivolous) questions about humor, from what makes us laugh and why we laugh at all, to how the world’s cultures came to have completely different senses of humor."
— Adam Alter, New York Times bestselling author of Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave; Assistant Professor of Marketing and Psychology

"McGraw and Warner have done something quite remarkable and commendable. They’ve taken an intriguing question regarding the nature of humor and artfully mined answers from both the outcomes of scientific research and their own “world-wide comedy tour” experiences. I’ve never seen anything like it."
— Robert Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence

“I’ve always been fascinated by how humor works. I’m not willing to say that The Humor Code solves the puzzle once and for all, but it comes pretty close – and along the way it’s a hell of a ride.”
— Jimmy Carr, Stand-up comedian, television host, actor, and co-author of Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh?

“Spanning five-continents, McGraw and Warner’s quest for a unified field theory of funny may be quixotic but, like Don Q and Sancho, their misadventures are irresistible and their enthusiasm is as infectious as the laughter they chronicle. Together they manage to find the science in comedy and the comedy in science, and share it all with the reader in this playful Baedeker of humor.”
— Barnet Kellman; Emmy-Award winning director of Murphy Brown and Mad About You, professor of Cinema Arts at USC, co-director of Comedy@SCA

""The Humor Code" was informative, entertaining, well-written and moving, and one you won't want to miss."

Product Details
ISBN: 9781451665413
ISBN-10: 1451665415
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 1st, 2014
Pages: 256
Language: English