Summary of The Humor Code

A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny

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The Humor Code book summary
A journalist and a psychologist travel across five continents to find the secret of humor.


7 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


Laughter is one of the most fundamental of human behaviors, but science has never explained it. What makes something funny? Journalist Joel Warner and psychologist Peter McGraw traveled to funny zones across five continents to discover if they could decipher the secret of humor. They got up-to-date with the latest scientific inquiries into humor, joined Dr. Patch Adams’s “clown brigade” in a Peruvian slum, found humor amid the strife of the Intifada, and investigated the hermetic aspect of Japanese humor. The answer they found is: Humor and laughter are a mystery. Their adventures offer a highly entertaining narrative. Business readers will find value in their brief section on funny ads and their insights into psychology. getAbstract recommends this exploration of humor to marketing and PR professionals seeking a deeper understanding of human behavior and the serious side of funny.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why humanity evolved with a sense of humor
  • How humor functions in social interactions
  • What characteristics make a joke funny


A Humor Quest
Why do people laugh? Journalist Joel Warner and psychologist Peter McGraw set out on a journey across five continents to answer that question. The two Americans traveled to Tanzania, where they investigated an epidemic of contagious hysterical laughter; to Japan, where they...
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About the Authors

Peter McGraw, is a professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and directs the university’s Humor Research Lab. Journalist Joel Warner has written for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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