Study finds Chicago is America's funniest city

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Chicago is America's funniest city, according to a study from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Milwaukee ranked 34th of 50 cities, according to Peter McGraw of the Humor Research Lab — HuRL — at the Rocky Mountain high university. The lab is part of the Leeds School of Business.

The research found that Boston is the No. 2 funniest city, followed by Atlanta at No. 3, then Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle.

The study grew out of McGraw's book, "The Humor Code: A Gloval Search for What Makes Things Funny," co-authored with journalist Joel Warner.

McGraw said, “We found humor often has a local flavor. The jokes that get laughs at comedy clubs in Denver seem unlikely to fly with a cartoon editor at The New Yorker, for example. The kind of torturous game shows that some Japanese find amusing would likely fall flat to a sitcom producer in Los Angeles.”

Over a nine-month period, McGraw and his team surveyed the 50 largest U.S. cities to track the frequency of visits by community members to comedy websites, the number of comedy clubs per square mile, traveling comedians’ ratings of each city’s comedy club audiences, the number of native-born famous comedians, the number of local funny tweeters, the number of local comedy radio stations and the frequency of humor-related Web searches originating in each city.

Co-authors included Warner, Adrian Ward, senior research associate at the Leeds School, and Caleb Warren, assistant professor of marketing at Texas A&M University.

“A city’s humor score isn’t just a measure of historic reputation or big-name productions,” said Ward. “It’s a way of looking at the day-to-day lives of people in that city. A city’s sense of humor is a living, breathing thing, created by everything from coffee shop conversations to Web videos shared between friends to the laughter that erupts at comedy clubs.”

The researchers also conducted a survey of more than 900 residents from the top 10 cities deemed funny by the algorithm. The team asked the residents about the kinds of funny entertainment they enjoy and whether they look for humor in their friends and partners. In addition the residents took a personality test assessing their “need for levity.”

Participants also described their city’s sense of humor and told their favorite joke.

“The result was a window into the humor profiles of each of the top 10 cities,” said McGraw. “Boston residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness while Washington, D.C., finds humor in the absurdities of political systems. Portlanders are just plain weird."

Milwaukee placed 34, just below Oklahoma City, Okla., and Nashville, Tenn.

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