These Are the 10 Funniest Cities In America

Is it possible to use science to determine which are the funniest cities in America? That’s what Dr. Peter McGraw and journalist Joel Warner set out to find out when they teamed up with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Humor Research Lab (which is a real thing), and apparently the answer is yes. Nothing funny about it!

The project was inspired by McGraw and Warner’s new book, The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. According to the New York Times, the process for the study was twofold: First, researchers created an algorithm to analyze and evaluate factors like the number of comedy clubs in each city, the number of famous comedians born there, and how frequently residents visit comedy websites. Then, they surveyed over 900 people living in the top 10 cities the algorithm picked out, speaking to them about things like what sorts of funny entertainment they enjoyed, having them take personality tests, and asking them to tell their favorite jokes.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Chicago, home of the legendary Second City improv school and theatre, took the top slot; although somewhat hilariously, Chicagoans are apparently terrible at telling jokes. “Many Chicago residents surveyed noted that they could not think of any zingers, since they prefer to mine observational humor from the situations in which they find themselves,” the study notes. Huh. Well, how about that?

According to a press release about the study, other highly-ranking cities include Boston (“residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness”), Washington, D.C. (“humor in the absurdities of political systems”), and Portland, OR (“Portlanders are just plain weird”) — although for some reason, Gawker seems to have difficulty believing that Boston is actually funny enough to rank number two. Speaking as a native Bostonian, however, believe you me when I say that there is more than enough hilarious improv and other comedy in Beantown to support the ranking. Also, Boston (well, Newton and Burlington) produced Amy Poehler. Just sayin’.

Want to know more? Here, have a handy-dandy infographic from The Humor Code's official website. You can also download the whole study over there, so if you really want to delve into the science behind the whole thing, we've got you covered. Laugh heartily!

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