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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 Peter McGraw and Joel Warner (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"It's not often you can say a book about comedy can teach us some serious lessons. This one does-and entertains us in the process." ( Booklist Starred Review)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Real research and a scientific theory of humor!

Where does The Humor Code rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Pretty far up there. A unique niche of science that yields a fascinating tool for understanding what makes us laugh..... the Benign Violation Theory.

What did you like best about this story?

How the author and researcher actually delved into the world of funny, not just in our culture, but many disparate cultures, even other species, like chimps and mice. This also included making a fool of himself on several occasions (like bombing at a comedy club)

Which character – as performed by Peter Berkrot – was your favorite?

The authors journalist friend, who more or less wrote the book in the first person as her accompanied Dr Peter McGraw

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Want to? I did.

Any additional comments?

Totally underrated book, could have been a best seller with a better title and cover.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book

What would have made The Humor Code better?

There were some interesting things in this book such as when they went to Japan and discussed why Japanese comedy is so different. However, much of the book felt like a collection of stories that were documented on their journey to discover what makes something funny. It felt like the stories were included based on whether they happened rather than if they were interesting or insightful stories. The book dragged on. They did some nice things such as how current social events affect humor. However, they did so much of this that I felt like I was listening to someone providing social views instead of providing me insight into comedy. The book is tiring to get through.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

It was a good audio book

It was a very good audio book. I really enjoyed the information given. I felt it was very informative although some parts just seemed like rambling

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great all around

Informative, but most importantly entertaining, therefore easy to listen to. hope to find more books like this one.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Way too much fluff.

It's been like an hour and a half of listening and all I've heard is this long backstory of how they created this book...

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Casey Kasem lives!

Even if this book were great, that would've been clouded by this breathy Casey-Kasem-impersonating actor. Oy! The stories on the book did not grab me. I was after a more psychological breakdown of what makes stuff funny. Hmm, guess the joke's on me.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Louis CK not really part of this book

The authors get 2 questions from Louis with nothing insightful to show for it. To sell the book on his name is disingenuous at best. Adding insult to injury, the narrator mispronounces Louis dozens of times, which is infuriating. This audiobook is an atrocity.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • M
  • 08-23-16

Didn't grip me. Didnt give me personally good tips

What would have made The Humor Code better?

More tips on how to be funny, less mediocre story of these guys doing research.

What do you think your next listen will be?

No idea

Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Berkrot’s performances?

Sure

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom

Any additional comments?

No

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Should have been called "The Humor Journey"

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, I expected to learn a lot, but I didn't. The scientific facts get suppressed (not much elaboration on them) by the clear focus on the story which is their journey around the world. So it should have been called the "The Humor Journey" instead of "The Humor Code"

How could the performance have been better?

There are a lot of jokes in the book, but the narrator reads them in a way so that they often aren't funny

Any additional comments?

Objectively the story is certainly well written.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent adventure story with great insights into

Really enjoyed this look at what makes the funny. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in what makes humor.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful