The word joke has its origin in the Indo-European vid , from which, for example, the Greek ἰδέα and the Latin videre also derive. In the Middle Ages, “diu wizze” meant the power of thought, cleverness , common sense, whereby more an acquired than an innate quality was thought of. At the end of the 17th century, the meaning narrowed under the influence of French and contained roughly the same as the foreign word Esprit, which is still used today; witty means as much as ingenious and particularly referred to the quick connection of thoughts, the intellectual combination or the mental agility. From the origin of the word, the joke was a bright, lively mind ("mother joke"). It was only in the 19th century that it became customary to refer the word primarily to the products of funny utterances and to speak of a joke in this sense.
The word “wit” is etymologically related to the English wit “wisdom, esprit ”, but is derived from the Old High German wizzi “ knowledge ”, “sharp observation ” to “wissan”, “to have seen” (cf. English wit also: “ spiritual agility ”, witness “ witness ”,“ witness something ”). Up until around 1800, "joke" meant a human ability , also called ingenium in Latin: the ability to make amazing and informative comparisons and to invent metaphors . The one with whom this ability is particularly pronounced is called a "witty head".
Wit and fun
It was not until the 19th century that it became common to use the word "joke" to refer to products with a funny disposition. Synonyms or partial aspects of today's term joke are joke , joke , joke as a humorous prank , or gag (English: "funny idea").
The joke of the matter is used to express that a certain detail of a topic is the core point, the essential part. Example: And that's why he did it that way? Yeah, that was the joke .
Joke in older parlance denotes a subtle use of the mind . The highlight in today's form is the shrewdness , the esprit ( French "spirit") the ability to surprising but substantial associations . The highlight is the core of a thing.
The change in meaning takes place as a result of the gradual naturalization of a shortened expression that is actually supposed to designate a “witty anecdote”. In the 19th century, the change in meaning to today's understanding was already completed. The French loan word offers itself as a variant: Clou (from Latin clavus literally "nail", compare to hit the nail on the head ). A distinctive feature, an outstanding situation or a good, unexpected idea - the heart of the matter - is the key to a solution. Examples: “That was the highlight of the evening!”, “The highlight of the whole thing”.
Wit and shrewdness
The original content of Witz corresponds to the meanwhile slightly outdated shrewdness and has been preserved in some German terms ( Mutterwitz , Nürnberger Witz ). In this sense, joke is “ peasant cunning ”, “quick comprehension” (cf. French esprit ). This sense is in the meaning of pointless as "without purpose", for example as that is pointless for "that does not bring anything". Further examples are joke for "tactics" or even madness , but here - "beyond" means "beyond the mind". More words in which this sense is used, madness and folly .
The usage in the idiom “The thing is not without a joke” also belongs to this group, whereby in current usage the Anglicism Cleverness stands for joke.
Plato is generally considered to be the first theoretician of humor , because for him humor is the mixture of pleasure and pain . Humor results from ambivalent feelings towards the ridiculous. The laughing person feels superior to the laughing person. Plato's degradation of laughter runs through the history of the West. In his work Rhetorica (approx. 330 BC) Aristotle took the view that the joke should serve the speaker's argumentation , whereby inappropriate jokes should be avoided.
For a long time, the joke was understood to mean the mental ability to “notice similarities between different things”. Due to an ever sharper semantic narrowing, only the individual short narrative was finally understood with wit. The term joke in today's sense was first used by Goethe on February 20, 1809 . “The joke always requires an audience. That's why you can't keep the joke to yourself ... The joke belongs under the play instinct ”. For Emil Kraepelin , the joke was the arbitrary combination of two “ideas that were somehow contrasting with one another”, mostly through linguistic association .
With Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer , a new phase began in research on wit and humor. Both are regarded as the early proponents of the so-called “incongruence theory”, by which Schopenhauer understood the sudden perception of an incongruity between concept and real object as the cause of laughter. Sigmund Freud , the most important exponent of psychoanalytic research on jokes, found three areas of everyday life for whose understanding the unconscious provides the key: dreams , mistakes and jokes. In contrast to dreams and failures, the joke is not a direct result of the unconscious and has (through the listener) a social component. For him - and some of his students - the pleasure in jokes resulted from a sudden loss of inhibitions . This inhibitory effort, which education and society normally demand of us, but which the joke saves us, arises from the taboo of certain thoughts, ideas, feelings or instinctual impulses that should not enter consciousness , but that should be blocked, locked out, repressed or bypassed .
The joke is now the subject of research in several sciences. Both linguistics , ethnology and psychoanalysis and Gestalt psychology deal - each for their own purposes - with the joke. None of these disciplines has so far succeeded in developing a generally accepted definition of the term joke. In linguistics, the joke is a type of text and a definable literary genre , folklore deals with its traditions , psychoanalysis deals with joke analysis with regard to its processes in the subconscious, and Gestalt theory with the analysis of joke structures with regard to the reference system that is effective in it - Change. What all disciplines have in common is the necessary consequence of the joke that recipients are encouraged to laugh. Laughter can have a number of causes, one of which is joke. While many other neurological causes of laughter remain hidden, the joke opens up opportunities for analysis.
Structure of the joke
Based on classic rhetoric , the joke can be broken down into the following components.
- With the Exordium , the narrator draws attention and marks the text as a joke;
- the exposition presents the situation and characters and determines the framework for the further action;
- the complication lets the characters act and offers a possibility of interpreting the action or speech of the characters. It seems to offer a single possibility of interpretation, but imperceptibly another possibility of interpretation is created;
- the Pointe surprise the listener with another possible interpretation and covers the hidden in the complicatio ambiguity on. It gives the insight that the judgment on the facts is not necessarily subject to a single opinion.
With the announcement (exordium) of a joke, the narrator seems to make a promise that he will make the listener laugh. Expositio, complication and punch line are constitutive elements of the joke, the punch line is its core. The punch line makes sense on a different level than the listener was allowed to assume in advance based on the levels of expectation. The anxiety that initially built up because of a supposed problem dissolves into liberating laughter. The laughter of the audience indicates that they have recognized the change in position and taken it with them. With the punch line the joke ends abruptly, every further word would be too much .
According to André Jolles , the joke can be understood as “a simple narrative form . Its regular performance is the short narrative , which has an obvious point of distancing itself from the otherwise necessary seriousness. "
Image jokes are possible in which the viewer completes the plot himself and supplements it with the element that allows distance from the necessary seriousness. A grotesque distortion, an obviously improbable pictorial element can allow a distancing from the otherwise necessary seriousness. In an oral presentation, the signal to distance yourself can be given with a glance or a gesture between the narrator and the audience - the rule, however, is a plot in which the known sequence already contains the signal at which point the listener is aware of the seriousness of the situation can free.
Features of the joke
According to Freud, the joke has 3 functions:
- Satisfaction of hostile and aggressive impulses that otherwise have to be suppressed due to social norms ;
- Satisfaction of the urge to talk about forbidden topics, but which can be addressed in jokes and
- Satisfying an innocent playful instinct .
The script plays a central role in the joke . It contains semantic information associated with the words in the joke text or called up by the words. The text is compatible with two different scripts that are simultaneously in opposition to each other (so-called script opposition ):
“Two hunters meet in the forest. Both dead. "
Meeting is a script opposition that has two meanings. The Complicatio suggests with “to hit” that the two hunters meet in the forest, but the punchline surprisingly uses the “hit” as a result of the mutual use of firearms. A second interpretation is triggered by the language element. The punch line is the point at which a switch from one script to another is possible. Victor Raskin describes this element as the semantic trigger for the script change, which he further classifies into two types, namely ambiguity and contradiction . In a joke, the word or phrase that is considered the trigger has at least two different semantic meanings. When reading or listening to the text up to the trigger, the recipient selects one of these meanings and builds on this accordingly the first interpretation of the entire text. While the joke is read or heard through to the end, it only becomes clear that the second meaning of the trigger should be chosen. This leads to the second interpretation of the whole joke text. In this way two scripts for the joke were created.
Psychoanalysis of the joke
According to Freud, who published one of the largest collections of jokes of his time in his work, The Joke and its Relationship to the Unconscious, which is fundamental to joke research, unconscious messages are transported through jokes. For Freud, dreams, failures and jokes were the access points to the unconscious sources of the individual. He differentiates between 3 basic forms:
- With substitution by mixed word (example: familial - family),
- slight modification (example: Orient Express train and blackmail - Orient Express train)
- Use of the same material
- Dividing joke (example: the urologist asks the patient: "Do you satisfy yourself through masturbation?"
- Change of arrangement (example: singles come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed; married men come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge)
- slight modification (exchange of a vowel)
- Name and meaning of the sentence
- metaphorical and factual meaning
- actual ambiguity (pun)
- Double sense with allusion
Freud also differentiates between harmless (abstract) and tendentious (hostile) jokes. Harmless jokes unmistakably aim to arouse pleasure in the listener. The pleasure in abstract jokes arises from the technique used; in tendentious jokes it arises from the fact that a tendency satisfaction is made possible that would otherwise have been omitted. Targets are always present in tendentious jokes. Freud distinguishes two major tendencies here, namely hostility (which is used for aggression, satire, or defense) and profanity (which is used for exposure). The former include e.g. B. the professional jokes (doctor jokes, official jokes, legal jokes, politician jokes), in which the members of a certain profession are laughed at because of their inability or laziness at work, or some of the blonde jokes in which the blondes are always presented as stupid and naive. The main purpose of trending jokes is to enable people to free themselves from these restrictions because of violations of the moral, logical, or cultural rules they have learned in their upbringing.
Jokes take their subjects from all areas that are endowed with the commandments of serious understanding, compassion, human warmth and respect.
- Language jokes make it possible to no longer take seriously the meaning of the language itself.
- Sex jokes make it possible to meet the area occupied by taboos and the invitation to intimacy and compassion with refusals of the required seriousness.
- Political jokes make it possible to meet a politically repressive regime with a denial of the serious respect it demands.
- Jokes about illness and death thrive in the black humor in the fields with his last consequence demand seriously.
It is characteristic that jokes often pick up on prejudices , fears or taboo topics, deal with social minorities or address human weaknesses; the joke touches on all kinds of human weaknesses. Prejudice jokes deal with issues relating to women or men, smokers (each addressed by the other group) or people with physical / mental disabilities. The minorities that appear in jokes include East Frisians , Turks , Americans , Jews , Poles , Sikhs in India, Ossis / Wessis , politicians and blondes . These social groups are stigmatized in jokes that solidify prejudice against them. In this way, according to Sigmund Freud, taboo or unconscious content can be presented and expressed in a socially accepted form.
One example is the sexist joke that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera told the then President of Mexico , Felipe Calderón , at the end of 2011 , for which he was sharply criticized by female members of his government:
«¿Sabe usted cuál es la diferencia entre un politico y una dama? Cuando el político dice que 'sí', quiere decir 'tal vez'; cuando dice 'tal vez', quiere decir que 'no', y cuando dice que 'no', no es político. Cuando una dama dice que 'no', quiere decir 'tal vez'; cuando dice 'tal vez', quiere decir que 'sí'; cuando dice que 'sí', no es dama. "
“What is the difference between a politician and a lady? When the politician says 'yes' he means 'maybe'; when he says 'maybe' he means 'no'; and if he says 'no' then he's not a politician. When a lady says 'no' she means 'maybe'; when she says 'maybe', she means 'yes'; and if she says 'yes' then she is not a lady. "
Jokes are usually formed according to standardized construction schemes. A narrative is given roughly three increases. The audience already knows that the last increase makes the situation so grotesque that no one has to take the offered story seriously any longer. The standard for this is the joke that confronts members of three different nationalities with a serious problem, the first behaves strangely in the situation, the second increases it, the latter, however, obviously acts grotesque, which is the signal to distance yourself from the seriousness of the situation.
No less popular is the construction with a question to which an unexpected answer is given - the listener gives the requested answer, the narrator the answer, from the seriousness of which everyone can free himself. The jokes with the opening “Question to Radio Yerevan ” follow this construction scheme.
The double - risky and non-risky - meaning of words often has a function in jokes:
“At the time of National Socialism, a cabaret artist enters the stage with a picture of Hitler , looks for a place to hang it on the wall, then puts it on the floor and finally thinks out loud: 'You don't know whether to hang it up or on them Wall should '. "
Formulated a maximum seriously in terms of "Hitler by train or Erschießungs command execute", but at the same time allowed the liberation of the seriousness of the situation. The cabaret artist could withdraw from having only paid the required respect to the picture, because it is supposedly worthy to hang in all offices and classrooms. The joke can be in the linked meaning of the word, for example "firewood rental".
The telling of the joke tends to demand and presuppose group consensus. There are inside jokes that can only be laughed at if you really understand the facts. It is therefore usually tricky to laugh as a stranger with a group in which a joke is being told. The group's laughter usually dies as soon as an outsider laughs along. The group behavior only allows the members to distance themselves from the seriousness of the topic. Those who do not belong should not rise above something that the group is ultimately very serious about when it comes to laughing.
- Function and characteristics
Effect of the joke
Jokes break taboos . They work through a word structure, in the course of which the meaning jumps from one (expectation) level to a completely different and (phrase) level unexpected by the listener; they take advantage of the script opposition. The difference between the two levels is supposed to induce serenity. A strict structure steers the listener's expectation in a certain direction, but the conclusion actually deviates from it. The surprise - and with it the pleasure - is all the greater when the first level is taken for granted or the second level is only hinted at. By selecting jokes, the narrator reveals a lot about himself; by laughing, the recipients confirm that they have understood the joke, but also that they accept the content. Almost all jokes express aggression directed against the subject or object at which one is supposed to laugh. This results in a valve function of the joke. For subjugated peoples, wit and satire are moral weapons against the oppressors.
Laughter is a physical reaction to a joke or a humorous situation; it is a "complex, circular, physiological and biochemical neurological process in the brain and in the muscles". The laughing stimulus is triggered by the punch line. Laughter occurs when displacement energy is released from its static function of hiding something, suppressing something and keeping it out of consciousness. The shock of being free from repression triggers joy and laughter. The joke removes what is repressed by upbringing and cultural norms . The stronger the taboos, the better the jokes. In totalitarian societies the political joke flourishes as a “whisper joke” (In the time of National Socialism : “What new jokes are there?” - “6 months concentration camp”).
Classification of jokes
Jokes can be classified according to different points of view. Content (subject) or its structure, the "mechanism" - that is, a characteristic that adheres to them, or the concealment through humiliation, disparaging exposure or even sexual abnormalities. Many jokes are placed in different thematic contexts in a very similar way: For example, political jokes from older eras are adapted to the new situation or the same joke is applied to different fringe groups .
According to the subject
- Jokes about authorities: official jokes, teacher jokes, police jokes, soldiers jokes, waiter jokes
- Jokes about minorities and social fringe groups,
- Jokes on sexual and suggestive subjects: sexual joke , nonsense
- about typical milieus: circus life, zoo
The folklorist Hannjost Lixfeld distinguishes the following groups of jokes according to the subject.
- Family and sexual
- Social groups
Based on a typical genre of jokes
Specific jokes from different cultural groups
- Political joke : Radio Yerevan , Sponti slogan
- Angler's Latin , hunter's Latin , sailor's yarn
- Scientific joke
- Jewish joke
- Joke in Art: Chindogu
- Man joke
According to the situation
- Stair joke
- Visual joke
- Funny judgments about the quality of jokes: beard wrapping machine
- Funny judgments about the quality of utterances that are in principle not meant to be jokes: farmers' rules of the "obviously" funny kind
An inside joke is a joke that requires special knowledge within certain groups of people, a group of friends or colleagues or within a family to understand. A very common form of inside joke is the scientific joke . Insider jokes also appear in art and, above all, in film and television , primarily as (alienated) quotations from a certain film scene. The motif of such jokes is usually a parody of the quoted work, and occasionally an homage . Often used forms of inside jokes in film and television are running gags and cameos .
A special form of the inside joke is the “classic retelling”. The reteller of the story quoted in the joke replaces little-known technical terms with words from everyday vocabulary. The effect arises from the misunderstanding.
“The neighbor learns that the friend is going to the pet shop. He asks him to bring a pointer . The acquaintance says: 'Yes!'. But comes back shortly afterwards and asks: 'What is a pointer ?' But the classic reteller has forgotten the exact name of the dog breed and tells the joke as [...] you can bring me a dog. "
The effect of such a meta-joke is based on the overall narrative.
Jokes in other cultures
It is often said that the Germans, anyway a “people without a joke”, live in a well-functioning political system with free expression and a middle-class society without profound divisions, so that politically motivated laughter does not offer enough target. The more suffering there is in dictatorships, for example , and the more laughter is needed to create publicity and to reduce fear and frustration, the more valve function, in particular, is played by political jokes .
Whether a joke is perceived as funny depends to a large extent on the culture . Jokes usually only work in a certain culture. In English one often uses puns like “Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust” (trust: don't trust your money, but invest your money safely). The ambivalence of "trust" was exploited here: The first half-sentence announces a contradiction, which is withdrawn in the last part. The so-called superiority jokes are also funny in North America. The word game is also popular in French, especially since the lexeme border is less accentuated in the French language than in German by the pronunciation liaison; this makes syntagmatic homophonies quite common. The misunderstanding is a popular joke technique internationally. Here, the ambiguity, complexity, or fuzziness of the language in the punch line is used to replace the script interpreted by the recipient at the beginning with another one (a man comes into the butcher's shop and says: “I would like 500 grams of liver sausage, from the fat one , rough! ”Says the saleswoman:“ I'm sorry, she has vocational school today! ”).
The ( political ) situation of the respective country is also decisive. When people are satisfied, as the Canadians claim, they laugh very little. If they are not, as the Germans say of themselves, it is easier to make them laugh. Germany was identified by the laughter laboratory as the most humorous country, as the Germans could laugh at most of the jokes. Unlike most other nations, they did not have a preference for any particular type of joke.
The English psychologist Richard Wiseman tried from September 2001 to find out by means of an Internet survey which joke is considered funny by most people. The request to put your own favorite joke aside and to rate the jokes of others was followed by around 500,000 people from a total of 70 countries. Together they posted 40,000 jokes, of which 1.5 million ratings were given. The following joke received the most votes:
“Two hunters were out in the woods when one of them collapsed. He doesn't seem to be breathing anymore and his eyes are glassy. The other guy pulls out his phone, calls emergency services and says, 'My friend is dead! What can I do? ' - The operator: 'Calm down. I can help you. First we should make sure he's dead. ' Short pause, then a shot. Back on the phone he says: 'OK, now what?' "
The decisive factor was that the joke was able to score points in many different countries, regardless of gender and age group. The punch line was used in a 1951 sketch by Spike Milligan .
Joke is also understood as a special cunning, an ability to express oneself in a witty and funny manner (“mother joke”). Freud already made a distinction between jokes, comedy and humor . Humor, comedy or anecdote relates to an actual event, the joke is purely fictional. Joke and joke are closely related and are often used synonymously.
- The deadliest joke in the world
- Cabaret : Cabaret , Comedy
- Philogelos , antique joke collection
- Declaration of joke in Germany
- Fun society
- Karl Fallend: Joke and Psychoanalysis: International Perspectives - Sigmund Freud revisited (= Psychoanalysis and Qualitative Social Research , Volume 5). Studien Verlag, Innsbruck / Vienna / Bozen 2006, ISBN 3-7065-4237-4 .
- Kuno Fischer : About the joke. A philosophical essay . Klöpfer & Meyer, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-931-402-01-0
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- Hannjost Lixfeld: joke . Working texts for lessons. Philipp Reclam Jun., Stuttgart 1978, ISBN 3-15-009542-5 .
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- G. Gabriel: Witz , in: Historical dictionary of philosophy
- Interesting information and results on the Laugh Lab study
- Oral joke storytelling styles
- Anke Blasius: The political linguistic joke in the GDR , 2003, p. 3
- Wolfgang Preisendanz : About the joke , 1970, p. 7 f.
- Thomas Hecken: Joke as a Metaphor. The term joke in poetics and literary criticism of the 18th century , 2005, ISBN 3-7720-8116-9 ; Ekkehard Knörer : Distant similarities. On the history of Witz and 'ingenium' , 2007, ISBN 978-3-7705-4285-7
- Salvatore Attardo: Linguistic theories of humor , 1994, p 18
- Helga Kotthoff: Scherzkommunkation , 1996, p. 11 f.
- Rhetorica 1419b; quoted from Salvatore Attardo: Linguistic theories of Humor , 1994, p. 19
- Johann Christoph Gottsched : Critische Dichtkunst , 1751, p. 102
- Karin Knop: Comedy in Series , 2007, p. 77
- Woldemar Freiherr von Biedermann: Goethe's Conversations 1805–1810 , 1889, p. 240
- Goethe, Conversations 1809 , Zeno.org
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- Wolfgang Preisendanz: About the joke , 1970, p. 15
- Yasunari Ueda: Text type joke and caricature as material for language learning , 2013, p. 31
- cf. above all the work of Hellmuth Metz-Göckel , including Metz-Göckel 1989: Witz structures , Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
- Reiner Foerst: The assignment of the joke , 2002, p. 21
- Bettina Euler: Structures of oral narration , 1991, p. 30
- Bettina Euler: Structures of oral narration , 1991, p. 32
- Bettina Euler: Structures of oral narration , 1991, p. 55
- Mirror article
- Peiling Cui: German and Chinese humor , 2008, p 89
- Victor Raskin: Semantic Mechanisms of Humor , 1985, p. 114
- Sigmund Freud: The joke and its relationship to the unconscious , 1905, one of the key works of modern psychoanalysis
- Alexandria A. Bott: Laughter makes school! , 2008, p. 15
- Sigmund Freud: The joke and its relationship to the unconscious , 1905, p. 103
- Sigmund Freud: The joke and its relationship to the unconscious , 1905, p. 103
- Yasunari Ueda: Text type joke and caricature as material for language learning: Linguistic approaches to philosophizing with children . LIT Verlag Münster, 2013, ISBN 978-3-643-12172-1 , p. 37 ff.
- Sigmund Freud: The joke and its relationship to the unconscious , 1905, p. 110
- Lutz Röhrich : Der Witz , 1977, p. 2 ff.
- Carlos Vergara: Carolina Schmidt, la nueva cara independiente de la política chilena. In: La Nación , July 2, 2013, accessed March 26, 2019 (Spanish).
- Lutz Röhrich: Der Witz , 1977, p. 291
- Sharif Kanaana / Pierre Heumann: Where is peace? Where is Democracy , 2001, p. 9
- Herbert Effinger : Bringing Truth to Laugh , 2008, p. 34
- Andrea Schiewe / Jürgen Schiewe: Witzkultur in der DDR , 2000, p. 17
- All children walk through the cemetery ... ( Memento of the original from October 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Carsten Seidel: The 'Last Words' - Spruchwitz: a commented collection , Tectum Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-8288-8094-0 , p. 11
- Karin Huffzky: Who has to laugh here? The image of women in men's jokes. A polemic . Luchterhand collection 271, Darmstadt a. Neuwied 1979, ISBN 3-472-61271-1 .
- If it rains in May, April is already over. December 31st bright and clear, the next day is New Years
- From: Hans Ostwald: "Der Urberliner", self-published, Berlin 1921
- Otto F. Best: People without a joke: About a German deficit , 1993
- Klaus Hansen: The small no in the big yes: Witz and Politics in the Federal Republic , 1990, p. 137
- Frank Heibert: The word game as stylistic device and its translation , 1993, p. 47
- Laughter laboratory website
- The winning joke ( Memento of the original from February 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Laughlab.co.uk, accessed August 8, 2011
- Spike 'wrote world's best joke' , BBC News, June 9, 2006
- BGB lack of seriousness
- In September 2001 the British Association for the Advancement of Science (the BA) embarked on the world's largest, and most unusual, scientific experiment. The aim of the project was to find the world's funniest joke, and answer important questions about the psychology of humor.