A Formula for Funny


Pravda online reports that U.S. scientist Igor Krishtafovich has discovered a formula for laughter. While I was personally more impressed that Pravda even had a website, here’s the formula:

HE = PI x C/T + BM, where…

  • HE = humor effectiveness.
  • PI = personal involvement.
  • C = complexity of a joke. The higher degree of complexity the better provided that your audience can solve the problem within 1 or 2 seconds.
  • T = time spent by a person solving a joke. The longer the time, the weaker the effect.
  • BM = background mood. A joker can have an advantage if an audience enjoys the show. However, a real good joke can “blow up” the most dismal audience.

Now I know a number of comedic performers frequent this humble site… Perhaps we can build on Dr. Krishtafovich’s fine work with some formulas of our own? As an example:

HE = DJ + DA, where…

  • DJ = dick joke.
  • DA = drunk audience.

Let the comments begin!


About Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?
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4 Responses to A Formula for Funny

  1. Ed Miller says:


    how’s this:

    HE = (RP + ETH) / PF

    where RP is Russian Professor, ETH is extra time on his hands, and PF is, of course, public funding….


  2. Hmm… Might I suggest tweaking it ever-so-slightly to:

    BD = (RP + ETH) / PF, where BD = boondoggle?

    For those unfamiliar with the term:



  3. Michelle says:

    Sigh. The urge to break down and compartmentalize is all too great in the scientific world. I’m reminded of the time I was horrified to read in my first-year psych class about the “Triangular Theory of Love” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_theory_of_love)

    Dear Science,

    Some things are just better left unformulated and un-pie-graphed! Leave well enough alone….assholes.


  4. Well, scientists may not be good at getting laid, but they’re awesome at putting stuff in tabulated form…


    HE = SOF + NIO, where

    SOF = “shirt’s on fire…”
    NIO = “now it’s out.”

    I got a million of ‘em!

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