9.10.14: Researching What Makes Something Funny & Designing Technology To Deceive

Sep 10, 2014

This cat, is not amused.
Credit myri_bonni via flickr Creative Commons

At her funeral on Sunday, fellow comedians applauded Joan Rivers for her sharp wit, biting humor, and irreverent routines. What really made Joan Rivers so funny? On today’s show, the director of the Humor Research Lab offers some theories into what makes us laugh. Plus, from walk sign buttons that don’t reflect reality to digital signs over-estimating wait times at amusement parks; we’ll consider why technology is sometimes designed to give us the illusion of control.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments. 


Researching What Makes Something Funny

Teaching People to be Funny

  • Bryan Bowden is a teacher – not of the standard curriculum, but of stand-up comedy – which means not just nurturing talents, but coming to terms with their insecurities. This profile was produced by Annie Gilbertson as part of the Deutsche Welle radio’s series, “Generation Change”. You can listen to the segment here.

Dishonest by Design

Guster's Ryan Miller

  • Born in Boston in the early 1990s, Guster first hit the pop charts in 1999 with the song, “Fa Fa” – and they’ve been drawing sell-out crowds ever since.  We spoke with Guster’s guitarist and lead singer Ryan Miller early last year.
  • Guster is playing at the Palace Theater in Manchester, New Hampshire, this Friday, September 12th. Their latest album is called Live Acoustic and they’ve got a full length album planned for January.