Psychology helps explain why Louis C.K. is so funny

Salon:

Did you hear the one about Hurricane Sandy? Did you find it hilarious? Tasteless? Or just lame?

Newly published research concludes the answer depends in part on exactly when the joke reached your ear, or inbox.

An analysis of responses to humorous quips referencing last year’s devastating storm suggests the adage that “comedy equals tragedy plus time” needs to be modified. A research team led by University of Colorado psychologist A. Peter McGraw concludes that, at some specific point in the days and weeks after a horrible event, there is a “sweet spot” when we’re particularly likely to find humor in the darkness.

“Transforming tragedy into comedy requires time—not too little, yet not too much,” the researchers write in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Their online study featured 1,064 people (mean age 31) recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Surveys of approximately 100 individuals were taken at 10 different points in time: one day before Sandy hit the Northeastern U.S.; October 30, the day it made landfall; and periodically over the next three months (November 2, 7, 14, 21, and 28, December 5, January 2, and February 6).

Read the whole story: Salon

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